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Top Shoe Trends 2011: Barefoot/Minimalist Shoes

Earlier this week, Footwear News released their list of the most popular shoe trends of 2011. Among the list of top trends/styles were:

  • Vintage/Americana
  • Lightweight running
  • Espadrilles
  • Ladylike silhouettes
  • Color-blocking
  • ”Flatforms”
  • Menswear-inspired looks

The TOP trend of the year however was the “Barefoot/Minimalism” style. Popular with runners and sports enthusiasts, minimalist footwear has definitely become the most sought-after shoe style of 2011.

So what’s the big idea? minimalist footwear mimics the barefoot running style, which experts argue allows for a more natural foot strike and less joint discomfort. Also, it’s suggested that the lightweight and minimal cushioning in these types of shoes helps to strengthen the muscles in the foot and improve balance.

Brands like Vibram Fivefingers and Merrell are at the forefront of the barefoot/minimalist footwear craze. Both companies promise the runner/sports enthusiast the basic attributes of the style, and beyond. Here are some of my top picks of barefoot/minimalist shoes to take note of.

Vibram Fivefingers

Vibram Fivefingers shoes offer protection from the elements, but with the benefits of barefoot running. Vibram Fivefingers shoes have five toe slots that are said to help to improve/realign the foot and promoting muscle stimulation in the feet, ankles and lower legs. They offer no cushion in the heel pad, and there’s only  around 2-3mm between your foot and the ground. Vibrams also come equipped with durable rubber soles that provide the traction you need on varied terrain.

Vibram Fivefingers Women’s KSO Slip-On

Buy Now:KSO Slip-On

The KSO promises all of the wellness benefits of the barefoot/minimalist shoe and comes equipped with Aegis Microbe Shield to help control odor.  This style is extremely versatile and a great fit for the multi-sport athlete.

Vibram Fivefingers Men’s Treksport Slip-On

Buy Now: Treksport Slip-On

This durable slip-on is great for trail and road running, cross training, walking and travel.


Merrell has been a top-selling brand in footwear for years. And their line of minimalist shoes have proven to be a huge hit as well.  These shoes looks more like the standard running style, while boasting the same benefits of the more “barefoot” Vibram-style shoe. Merrell’s minimalist footwear line is proving that sometimes, “less is more.”

Merrell Women’s Lithe Glove Oxford

Buy Now: Lithe Glove

The Lithe Glove oxford offers a 4mm compression molded EVA midsole cushion and zero heel drop to help you keep connected to your terrain. Also, this style boasts a 1mm forefoot shock absorption plate that maintains forefoot flexibility and protects the foot by distributing pressure as you run.

Merrell Men’s Trail Glove Oxford

Buy Now: Trail Glove

Along with the 1mm shock absorption plate and 4mm EVA midsole, the Trail Glove is DWR-treated to resist water and  stains, while the Vibram rubber sole keeps your feet securely on the ground. This minimalist shoe is a definite must-have.

*Important note: It’s recommended that you consult your physician before trying any style of minimalist shoes.

Vibram photo courtesy of ruleofnext