Just when we thought minimalism had finally started to fade into the background, it seems primed to come roaring back. In a stunning move, Vibram unveiled it’s new prototype: the Vibram Pheidippides.
Vibram first burst onto the scene back around the turn of the millennium basically as a boat shoe company. More specifically, yacht racers would were them so they could get a barefoot feel without slipping off the boat. Once a couple of barefoot runners started experimenting with the shoes on dry land they became a bit of an underground phenomenon. Everything changed for them when Born to Run came out in 2009. All of a sudden the five fingered shoes, or toe shoes, were quite the hot item.
Models like the Bikila were soon on shelves in run specialty shops and you couldn’t seem to run anywhere without seeing them. The debates about whether or not they lived up to their claims were heated, even in a friendly way. For some, the new style and the logic that came attached to it just made sense, and, it worked! Still, traditionalists clung to their heavier shoes and heel-striking, shunning this so-called fad.
These five-fingered shoes, which became all the rage seemingly so quickly, fell out of favor almost as quickly. Where did they go wrong? Some would say the exposed five fingers were a terrible look and that it was too much. However, it appears that the opposite was true; the five-finger look just wasn’t enough.
“In a standard shoe, you had the option to move your toes around a little bit,” said Vibram chief strategist John McNamara. “What we overlooked with our initial five fingered versions was that flexibility. Your toes were stuck in their compartments. This is the compromise. Now you can choose which compartment.”
That’s right: the new Pheidippides will have six toes. Nobody saw this coming. Now you can have some options in terms of toe placement to further customize your fit experience. Have a gap in your toes and want to leave a middle slot open? It’s your call. Does your foot hang a left (or right) hand turn, making it an awkward fit in traditional shoes? Well, their thinking is that more toe slots can help that slanty foot of yours. In fact, why not store your key or some money in the open slot? It’s totally up to you.
This was thought to be so big for the once trendy company that they gave the project a code name: Project Camel. “The name ‘Project Camel’ had a certain meaning for us,” explained lead developer Steve Rogers. “We had been stagnant for a while and this was going to get us over the proverbial hump.” With a product that they expected to put the company back in the driver’s seat for a new movement, the project name didn’t matter too much. However, once word leaked out to other companies of the code name, the competition quietly began to refer to it as the Camel Toe, which didn’t help much. It was still a big step up over the code name of the first five finger shoes: Operation Hard Sock. Although never confirmed, it has been said that more than a few people lost jobs over that one.
One big question remaining is why make such a big shift in philosophy? “Due to the excessive amount of pollutants and contaminants being released into our ever shrinking world, we’re pretty sure that most people will have six toes on each foot soon enough,” explained McNamara. “We’re making a move to corner that market before it even develops.”
To prevent the toes from tearing through the upper, there will be customizable acrylic press on protection in various colors. This will play well to the consumers who go for fashion over function. It also is quite convenient that there’s an extra toe on the shoes all of sudden. This potentially increases revenue for their new accessory by 20%.
Some argue that the shoes could be even more minimal and offer more ground feel. Rogers explained that this was an easy one to come up with. “I always loved the street punk look of the 80’s with the fingerless gloves, and then it hit me: lose the toes on the shoe!” The latest model, the Vibram Cyrus, is basically the Bikila with the toes chopped off. This allows the runner to lose some of that unnecessary bulk and provide more ground feel, along with making them look much more badass. If there was a scene in The Warriors where they stopped fighting and went for a run, this would be the shoe they all wore. Eventually there will be a line of 5 and 6 fingered models that are missing the toes completely. For now, the Cyrus will be the only option for those who are looking for all of the wiggle room they can possibly get.
In researching this piece, information was found pointing to another future release. However, we could not confirm the existence of a Vibram Goliath prototype. Many believe it is coming anyway and will feature six fingers, a 64mm stack height in the heel and a 54mm ramp. It will without a doubt get you up on your toes.
“Minimalism, maximalsim, it’s all just an arms race in ridiculousness,” proclaimed Rogers. “Those other companies thought they could out-ridiculous us just by beefing up the sole. Nope. Six fingers. Top that.” The gauntlet has been thrown down, and it will be interesting to see how the competition responds.
For those scouring the web for a place to buy six-fingered shoes, this has been another April Fools Day post from the Level.