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Adidas Jumping into ‘Toe-Shoe’ Game

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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.

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.”

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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