"Overall, they are an excellent step in the right direction (pun intended). Understandably, there is widespread fanaticism associated with them at sites such as birthdayshoes.com. We're excited to have an option that maintains the barefoot experience. However, this obsession often borders on religiosity heralding the infallibility of all things Vibram. There is still room for improvement. I'm dreading 10-20 years from now when annoying purists will be singing the praises of "the good ol days" when original FiveFingers came out and selling vintage pairs to each other online."
I hate to say I told you so, but I got it pretty close on this one. Just one big problem with my prediction-it has only taken a matter of months! See the following first impressions from Barefoot Chronicles on pictures of Vibram's new 2011 line.
In all fairness, these folks are entitled to their opinions. They love certain models of FiveFingers. Great. I just find the panic that is surfacing over innovative products a little puzzling. I'm really looking forward to new products from Vibram and other companies because I, for one, am not satisfied with my FiveFingers. Like I said, I feel like they are a step in the right direction, but far from the ultimate minimalist running shoe on Earth. I'm not even saying I like the new Vibrams. I haven't made up my mind yet. But even if they are complete garbage, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Ultimately, feedback like this is what will drive Vibram to develop a refined product.
Now for my next prediction/rant. The next step in the barefoot community will come about like so: Barefoot running will gain widespread acceptance. Products will abound. Disney will have kid's shows about barefoot running. It will become common-place.
Then, the "OGs" will surface-those who started barefoot running when the concept was in it's infancy. They will make sure to tell everyone how long they have been barefooting, emphasizing that they were among the founders of the movement. They'll tell you how hard it was to find minimalist footwear. They'll tell tales of how they did "mods" to standard running shoes. They'll talk your ear off about how they were persecuted by robotic Ivan Drago-esque high-tech shoe proponents. They may even share a sad tale about how they weren't allowed to enter a race without footwear. They will pontificate about how hard they worked to gain acceptance in the running community. Mark. My. Words.
Does this scenario sound familiar? I've seen it take place in two areas specifically during my short lifetime: skateboarding and punk rock. Apparently this has occurred since the dawn of time among new fads. People like to be a part of small movements, then complain about the movement when it becomes more popular and tell everyone else they're doing it wrong, or at least that they best respect the original gangster's credibility.
It used to bother me when I'd see skateboarding on TV or Nike making skateboarding shoes. But, being the capitalist that I am, there is one great thing about a movement like that getting big-cheap products. Skateboards and their corresponding paraphernalia are cheap and abundant. Tiny towns, including my own hometown, have very nice skate parks. So I don't care how big it gets. It just means more opportunities for me. I like skateboarding and I don't care how many other people like it, I'll continue to skate regardless.
Now, does cheap mean good? Obviously not. Wal-Mart skateboards are awful. But there are more quality products at a lower prices elsewhere. And so I envision the minimalist footwear movement to unfold. Wal-Mart will probably have some horrible "minimalist footwear" someday. But that also means that TJ Maxx will have some great out-of-season minimalist footwear for peanuts.
And with that, I end my diatribe. It may seem far-fetched, even delusional.
Just don't say I didn't warn you...