Adidas Jumping into 'Toe-Shoe' Game

Footwear giant Adidas launched a “toe shoe” this week and subsequently jumped into the ring with Vibram FiveFingers in a weird niche of a market that continues to gain momentum. But unlike the VFFs, so-called “barefoot runners” are not a target of the Adidas shoe, called the Adipure Trainer. It is a barefoot “training shoe” designed specifically for the gym, Adidas cites.

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Adidas Adipure Trainer, men’s model

Like Vibram and other “toe-shoes,” including the Fila Skele-Toes, Adidas is touting “natural movement” and the “harnessing [of] the body’s natural mechanics” with the Adipure Trainer.

The shoe, available in November for $90, has a right-against-the-ground sole that’s just 0.25-inch thick. There is a men’s and a women’s model. The aesthetic is decidedly “Star Trek,” including shiny materials, neoprene-like cuffs, and an articulated spread of “toe slots” up front.

Says an Adidas designer, “To achieve your full potential during a workout, focus on how your foot interacts with the ground in the same way you think about how your hand interacts with a ball or a bat.” The quote continues, “Using your foot’s natural power and movement will help you strengthen muscles you never knew you had in your feet, lower legs and throughout your core.”

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Adidas Adipure Trainer, women’s model

It will be fun to watch for reactions in the barefoot-shoe world, which is stacked with passionate, evangelistic followers. And we’ll be monitoring the legal wires to see what Vibram’s attorneys think. Will Adidas be served a “we’re suing” letter from Vibram like Fila received last month? I wouldn’t bet my pinky toe against it.

—Stephen Regenold

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