In recent years, the category of “stylish shoes” has grown rather … expanding. We’ve seen everything from ugly-chic runners and tight socks to cartoonish water shoes. fashionable. (Also, the mule! And the Crocs!) However, one particular style has remained a fashion outsider: the barefoot shoe, and in particular the FiveFingers shoe from Vibram, the bewitching biomorphic silhouette for sure.
Now enter two extremely cool Japanese brands: designer Takahiro Miyashita and avant-garde shoe brand Suicoke. The duo has just been released their take on the FiveFingers – but will that cosign be enough to elevate the weird shoe in the cool sneaker leagues?
First, a bit of history on the puzzling design of the shoe itself. In the mid-2000s, the Italian shoe company Vibram introduced the FiveFingers shoe, intending to appeal only to boaters, kayakers and other nautical types. The “five-finger” sole was intended to provide better grip on slippery surfaces while giving the feeling of being half-barefoot. Surprisingly enough, however, the barely-there footwear drew in runners and fitness enthusiasts alike as “barefoot running” began to gain popularity. Mainstream audiences were mostly repelled by the wild design – and to be fair, many runners still wouldn’t hit them with a 10ft pole. Today, the FiveFingers shoe is worn by those extreme outdoor types, those who probably have multiple hydration packs and a kaleidoscope of carabiners – not precisely the fashion buffs.
This particular FiveFingers collaboration isn’t a total aberration – it’s at least the third time a fashion brand has attempted to co-sign the bizarre design in the span of a year. Last fall, Balenciaga released the “Toe” shoe, a nearly $ 1,300 riff on the style. Then Vibram himself gave the shoe a ninja-goth neoprene makeover in the “V-NEOP” design. And last spring, Suicoke teamed up with Japanese label Midorikawa for a scary and terrifying version, with painted nails, which looked more like a character from Aaahh !!! Real monsters only desirable shoes. However, this iteration of The Solist and Suicoke is perhaps the most acceptable design yet. It has a monochrome blend of blacks with a silhouette that’s been altered – and given the addition of laces – to look a bit more like a real sneaker than the extreme toe-hugging shape of the original.
The world of men’s footwear is undoubtedly as wild as it has ever been, but even by those standards, the Vibram FiveFingers is still darn nonsense. However, if fashion has taught us one thing, it’s that nothing is forbidden. In 2010, The New York Times Magazine demand though the design “could very possibly be the new Crocs”. Well, 11 years later, Crocs are unmistakably cool, co-signed by too many streetwear designers and famous musicians to list here. Even Vibram’s iconic soles have managed to become an integral part of the searing sneaker design. As for the FiveFingers … only time will tell. When it comes to this era of footwear, we’ve learned to expect the unexpected. One can only imagine Vibram keeping his fingers – or, better yet, his toes – crossed so the FiveFingers finally have their moment in the sneaker sun.
This coin was originally published in GQ US
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