August 13, 2010

EVERY MAN A KENYAN:

Barefoot shoes try to outrace the black market (Jennifer Alsever, August 13, 2010, CNNMoney.com)

Six years ago, Robert Fliri, a mountaineer and industrial designer, approached the company with a novel idea. He proposed a lightweight shoe -- essentially a glove for the foot -- that would mimic the experience of going barefoot while protecting the wearer from dirt and abrasions. Fliri believed that his anti-shoes would enhance muscle development in the feet and improve a wearer's range of motion, balance and posture.

Vibram started making Fliri's five-toed shoes in 2006, dubbing the brand Vibram FiveFingers. In 2007, Time magazine named the shoe one of the year's best health inventions. Two years later, Christopher McDougall's book Born to Run, which touts the benefits of barefoot running, became a best-seller. And this year, a study by Harvard evolutionary biologists published in the journal Nature concluded that barefoot runners land on the balls of their feet, rather than on their heels, ultimately creating less joint stress and reducing injuries.

Customers were hooked. The shoes, which sell for $75 to $125, started showing up on runners at elite events such as the Boston Marathon. Revenue for FiveFingers shoes jumped to $11 million last year, up from $430,000 in 2006. This year, the company's shoes -- which include models for running, training, climbing, hiking and trekking -- are on track to generate sales of $50 million. All of this is separate from Vibram's $125 million annual business making soles.

The company now struggles to meet demand for FiveFingers shoes: It expanded from one factory to five this year and tripled the size of its Boston warehouse and office. About 90% of FiveFingers' shoes are sold to American customers.


Some of us used to run barefoot at summer camp (see post above) but that was on a golf course.





Enhanced by Zemanta
Posted by Orrin Judd at August 13, 2010 5:07 AM
blog comments powered by Disqus
« DEPOSING A THIRD WAY LEADER NECESSARILY MAKES YOU A THROWBACK...: | Main | GET YOUR KID'S APPLICATION IN NOW FOR NEXT YEAR: »