The new Inov-8 Evoskin shoes may look like the wildly popular Vibram FiveFingers barefoot-style running shoes. They may borrow some of the same design philosophies as Vibram’s FiveFingers. But, hey, didn’t Vibram mimic and borrow when it first built its foot-hugging shoes a few years back? Oh right, anatomy! The human foot. Vibram borrowed from the human foot, and Inov-8 Ltd. borrowed from Vibram. Or, maybe a designer at Inov-8 skipped that step and simply took off his or her own shoes and bent down for an inspection.
Whatever the exact origin, the to-be-released Evoskin foot coverings (can you quite really call them “shoes”) will undoubtedly draw attention from Vibram fanatics and there will be many comparisons made to the FiveFingers line. But Inov-8 is taking a slightly different tack. Its foot-shape shoe is a simple mold of silicone with five toe pockets and a heel. They weigh a scant 3.5 ounces per foot. The company (www.inov-8.com) says the Evoskins are made to give a “freedom that was previously the reserve of barefoot purists.”
Indeed, there is only a single layer of silicone between your foot and the ground, and the Evoskin shoes are said to behave like a second skin. The material protects the foot to an extent, though you can stub a toe hard still through the thin material in front. You can feel pebbles through the material underfoot. Further, there is no support at all with these shoes — your anatomy is made to absorb each step, and that’s the whole purpose, in fact.
Inov-8 recommends integrating the Evoskins into a training regimen to aid in strengthening the feet. The company further promises “gecko-like grip” when the silicone skins are used during water sports. The Evoskins will be for sale in February, 2011 for about $65 per pair.