'Barefoot-Style' Shoes for Hipsters

By STEPHEN REGENOLD

“What are those hipster shoes?” My friend and running partner was staring at my feet. I was dressed in running shorts with a T-shirt on, but on my feet were a pair of stealthy, slipper-like shoes made by a new company, Kigo Footwear, based in Atlanta, Ga.

You might be sick of reading about “barefoot-style” shoes. But Kigo jumps on the barefoot bandwagon with a new line coming to market next month. The company’s four models range from my “hipster”-oriented Drive, a unisex shoe with a bungee lace, to the casual, Mary-Jane-style Flit model made for women.

kigo drive shoe.jpg

Kigo Footwear Drive shoe

The Drive comes to market on August 1 and will cost about $90. For that you get a simple, flexible-soled shoe with water-resistant uppers and a 2mm footbed inside. As noted, the laces are small elasticized bungee cords, and you tug them tight to fit the shoe on your foot.

With the Drive, Kigo attempts to distinguish itself from the myriad barefoot options by offering a shoe that does double duty during activity and as casual wear. In my use, I see the ratio skewing more “casual” than “performance” for most all wearers of the shoe.

kigo shoe copy.jpg

Elasticized bungee cords serve as laces

A flexible sole and a zero-drop footbed put pressure on a runner to stride with grace. No slop allowed with this kind of shoe. Road running is harsh with this shoe, and on dirt trails the lightly-treaded sole offers the bare minimum for traction.

Fit is somewhat loose — the Drives do not securely cinch on your foot like most running shoes do. The lacing system provides a weak hold. But in my tests the plastic cincher on the laces stayed put even after a couple miles of running, and overall the shoe felt fine on soft trails.

Kigo touts light weight as a hallmark, advertising that the average Drive shoe weighs 4 ounces. Not so on my scale. My men’s size 12 Drive shoe measured 8.1 ounces with its footbed installed. This is lightweight, to be sure, but nothing out of the ordinary.

kigo drive shoes.jpg

Drive model is built for running and everyday use

In the end, I like the Drive shoe for its comfort and its looks. It’s a great everyday shoe that can occasionally be called upon for a hike or a casual run. But as a dedicated barefoot-running shoe, the Drive falls short. There are many better choices on the now-crowded barefoot shelf.

—Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com. Connect with Regenold at Facebook.com/TheGearJunkie or on Twitter via @TheGearJunkie.

Posted by Robert - 07/15/2011 03:57 PM

I hope they do better this time around. The Kigo Edge I ordered last year sized 12.5 was more like an 11. Had it matched true sizing, the toe box would have been too narrow to be comfortable. After restocking and shipping, I was out $20 on the return. The Drive looks like they may have fixed the toe box. Hopefully the sizing is more realistic as well but unless there is a local shop with them in stock I’m not going to gamble again. I’ll stick with VFF and Terra Plana.

Posted by Zooloo - 07/17/2011 02:56 PM

This “Kigo” brand product looks awfully similar to the “Vivo barefoot” line. I hope they haven’t been stealing Vivo’s ideas…
I suppose there aren’t any patents for these kinds of shoes, but, well, credit where credit’s due.

Posted by kigogal - 07/26/2011 01:47 PM

Robert, you’re right about the sizing issue, and it was the first thing we worked out. All new lasts, true to size, anatomically shaped with a nice, wide toe box and less of a bumper create a comfortable, even roomy fit. You’re absolutely justified in your opinions, but we hope you’ll give us another chance. If you decide to, please email your comment directly to us and we’ll see what we can do to make a purchase easier. Or check out one of our retailers to try on a pair for yourself.

Hey Zooloo – interesting comparison. Vivobarefoot has a wide line of designs, for sure. We promise we haven’t been stealing any ideas – we have enough to do with our own so lord knows we don’t need to take on anybody else’s!

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