A UK shoe company is leading the way in designing shoes which have a minimum effect on the foot.
Research tells us that shoes can be very harmful to our feet and with this in mind UK-based ethical footwear brand, Terra Plana, has developed Vivo Barefoot, a range of shoes designed to minimize the negative effect on feet.
A study published in 2007 looked at the health of 180 individuals from Sotho, Zulu and European cultures and concluded that the traditionally barefoot Zulus had the healthiest feet. The Vivo Barefoot prototype was developed by Tim Brennan, a childhood friend of Galahad Clark, founder of Terra Plana. Tim realized while practicing the Alexander Technique in 2001, that to be healthy, his feet should be barefoot. Knee and ankle injuries were affecting his tennis playing and his father, an Alexander Technique teacher, advised him to try playing barefoot. Tim then came up with the prototype design at the Royal College of Art and the shoe was first manufactured in 2002. In 2009, the Vivo Barefoot was voted ‘Best Shoe’ by treehugger.com.
The shoes feature a ‘back to basics’ design and an ultra thin, puncture-resistant sole. The design encourages the wearer to walk pushing from the toe to the heel, just as we would without shoes. It is also a feature of the design that we can feel the surfaces under foot. Although no specific instructions or training is needed, there is a period of adjustment with the Vivo Barefoot because they do require a different approach to walking than the one we are used to with regular shoes.
The Aqua is the most popular Vivo Barefoot style for men. It’s a stylish suede trainer, with an old school feel, which comes in a choice of five colorways (£75); The Gauteng is a summer canvas version with a 3mm sole (£60); while the Dharma (£75) is a casual slip-on shoe which comes in a choice of leather or canvas.