In 2006 the brand Vibram launched the now famous FiveFingers shoes. You might not know the name, but they are often referred to as the ‘toe shoes’. Upon launch, they were looked at as odd and more of a novelty than a serious running shoe.
According to their site, “FiveFingers provides a healthy alternative to traditional footwear. Wearing FiveFingers for fitness training, running, water sports or just for fun will make your feet stronger and healthier—naturally.”
Tony Post, the former CEO of Vibram announced on December 12th that he founded a new company called ToPo Athletic. There was not much information or details given on the new company, but a press release said the company will build a brand “based on the unique belief that products should innately amplify, not modify, the body’s natural biomechanics.”
The site was updated Wednesday with more details and images of the new design. Split toe shoes appear to be next for the new venture from Tony Post. A split toe design isn’t exactly a new concept, with it starting as far back as the 1951 Boston Marathon where Shigeki Tanaka wore the style on his way to winning the race. Newer versions of tabi style shoes have been produced by companies such as Brooks, Zem, Nike and SMAAT.
ToPo will be launching three models for both men and women in May. All three will feature zero drop heels to mimic a barefoot running style. A minimalist approach does not appear to be goal of the first shoes, but that could be product line in the future. The RR is their premium racing shoe that will retail for $130. A mid range crossfit RX costs $110. The everyday training shoe should cost $100 and is the RT.
Post told Runner’s World, he thinks the design serves as a key anchor point for the forefoot. “In a shoe with a roomy forefoot, you lack security especially going downhill”. Unlike his previous company’s shoes, the split in the toes will let them move naturally while not sliding around the toe box.
A partnership has also been established with performance sock company Injinji. They will make socks that will be specifically made for the split toe shoe style. For now, information is limited, but you can sign up on their website with an email address to receive any future updates. Interested consumers will be able to see the new line at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market trade show in Salt Lake City later this month.
I’m not sure the shoes will debut with much hype as the design isn’t exactly ground breaking, while the low end shoe still comes in at $100. Time will tell if Post can produce another niche product in a somewhat crowded market.