Vibram Five Fingers
Initially brought to market in 2004, Vibram FiveFingers underwent extensive biological, psychological and cultural research in the years that preceded its release. Unlike other products on the market, it was born out of necessity rather than consumer want; designed to feel free from the burden of using a heavy boot and craved something different, something more natural that wasn’t available. That’s how this ‘foot-glove’ was developed, which was characterised by a special sole - extremely light and super thin - composed of rubber that hugged the foot and guaranteed maximum protection on all terrains.
Whether you are traversing the rocky terrain on the trails or the endless concrete sprawl of our urban environments, Vibram FiveFingers moulds itself to the foot and conforms to its natural movement while simultaneously protecting it. With such a stripped back and minimalist design, you wouldn’t think of the Vibram FiveFingers as a functional product, but, in a primal and naturist way, it really is. In the same way that a jacket sporting a 3-layer fabric composition is like a man made ‘Second Skin’ as it possesses the ability to allow sweat and moisture to escape without letting water in, akin to human skin; the Vibram FiveFingers are ‘gloves for feet’.
Few brands are as synonymous with the outdoors as the high performance soles producer, Vibram. Founded in 1937 by Vitale Bramani who, two years prior, lost six comrades in a mountaineering accident, partially blamed on improper footwear, lends his name to the brand - Vibram. During the two year period between 1935 and 1937, Bramani set out to improve footwear safety levels and, in the process, he developed a vulcanized rubber lug sole with a tread design called Carrarmato (tank tread), inventing the first Vibram sole. In the many decades since, Vibram has continued to balance form and function as they delve deeper into the experimental world of footwear. This breakthrough, along with the design of the Carrarmato Sole, changed mountain climbing and footwear forever.
Vibram’s deep-lugged soles are used by more than 1,000 footwear makers including the likes of Danner, Hoka One One, ROA and New Balance. The application of this technology reaches far-and-wide and is not exclusive to one division of footwear; it has been utilised on mountain boots, trail running shoes and lifestyle trainers. Purpose-built by nature and with functionality coursing through its veins, Vibram operates on a different plane to those that occupy the same space as them. The forward-thinking Vibram FiveFingers model is a minimal product, but a functional one - something that their competitors have attempted to balance in years gone by, but have consistently fallen short. Through further development of their Vibram FiveFingers technology, the brand is concentrated on the essentials with this “second skin” design: protecting the foot in the most natural way possible.
From the outset, it was adopted by the outdoors community and became a symbol of innovation, particularly among those in the ‘barefoot’ running tribe - a phenomenon that, at the time, was sweeping across North America. The original model paved the way for several later versions - Classic, Sprint, Kso, Flow, Moc, Performa - varying in shape and material, and catered to different disciplines like water sports, running, yoga, trekking and travel. 17 years later, in 2021, the Vibram FiveFingers is still sported by those looking for a more natural, form-fitting shoe. The outdoors and innovative products go hand-in-hand as functional apparel and footwear are essential in keeping you protected from the elements. As long as you have that trademark yellow Vibram stamp on your sole, you’re all set.
Text by ali geroge hinkins