In 2006, Tony Post launched the Vibram FiveFingers brand in the United States. The five-toed shoes exploded in popularity, making Post, who is a former pro runner, a star in the footwear world.
This month, after leaving Vibram last year, Post launches a new venture. To be unveiled at the Outdoor Retailer trade show in Utah next week, Post and an investment partner have formed a new company and a line of shoes under the Topo Athletic brand name.
Like Vibram FiveFingers, the Topo shoes are unique. This time instead of five separate toes the Topo shoes have just one split for the big toe.
The split-toe design creates an anchor point, Post says, for the forefoot in stride. It offers a “stronger connection to your footwear,” the company press materials cite.
But the remaining toes are not locked into sleeves of their own. They sit free in a normal toe box and are able to naturally spread out and flex.
Based off the historic design of tabi shoes from Japan, the Topo Athletic footwear will come in three split-toe models for men and women.
The split-toe design emerged prominently in western consciousness in 1951 when a Japanese runner won the Boston Marathon in a pair of tabi shoes.
Topo is not the first brand to do the split-toe design. As recently as 2011, we reviewed a split-toe design from OluKai Inc. in the post “Split-Toe, Minimalist ‘Octopus’ Adventure Shoe.”
But split toes is just one unique facet of the Topo build. The shoes have a zero-drop footbed and incredibly light weight. A men’s size 8.5 shoe will weigh about 5.3 ounces a foot; women’s size 7 will be about 4.6 ounces, which is lighter than an iPhone.
Further distinguishing the shoe, a Boa Technology twist-to-tighten closure system is included in lieu of laces on the running model. They have removable EVA footbeds (8mm thick) and a 4mm rubber outsole.
Another model is made for fitness and training, not running, including weight lifting and CrossFit regimens.
Topo has $5million in funding. Post knows the ins and outs of the footwear world, and we have got to believe his name and reputation alone will close deals to get this shoe in stores.
Injinji, a brand known for its “five-toed” socks, has already announced that it will make a split-toe sock for the Topos.
We’re looking forward to trying out the split-toe experience when test models are shipped in late winter.
Topo Athletic is based in Newton, Mass. Look for its initial models to debut in stores this June with prices starting at $100.