Taking inspiration from minimalist shoes like the Vibram FiveFingers, old-school aqua socks, and octopus tentacles, a to-be-released shoe from OluKai Inc. promises to be something different. The Maliko, available for sale in 2012, has a split-toe design that the company touts as providing “big toe freedom” to help with balance and dexterity.
I picked the shoe up at a recent demo in Utah during the Outdoor Retailer trade show. It felt solid in the hand — more a trail runner build, less something you’d usually find near the water. There’s a removable insole, arch support, and heel cushioning. It is made of mesh for draining water after submerged, and it has what the company calls “octopus tentacle-inspired rubber suction cup” detailing on the sole. This includes raised rubber stripes with tiny suction cups as well as small slits in the rubber that grab for traction.
The company, based in Irvine, Calif., but with inspiration taken from Hawaii and other island places, calls the Maliko a “crossover, minimalist adventure shoe.” Around the water next year, there will be few other shoes like it. Available in March, 2012, for $100.