Merrell has made quite an impact in the running community with their Barefoot range, including the Trail Glove and Sonic Glove. Describe how the idea for creating this collection began.
It was clear that there was a grassroots movement in process in the running community. Merrell believed that there was an unmet opportunity to bring mainstream barefoot products to fitness enthusiasts. Our performance credentials and Vibram FiveFingers know-how were a perfect solution to meet this consumer’s needs. Our goal is to provide barefoot footwear that stimulates a connection to the terrain, delivers a natural gait to improve posture, and strengthens feet and leg muscles. We want your feet to lead you!
Explain the concept of Merrell Bareform and how it applies to the design of Merrell footwear.
Merrell Bareform is about applying a simple, yet effective, technique that allows one’s running to become more natural. In a way, getting us back to running like kids (without shoes). Bareform Running is a three part technique which is made up of landing on your midfoot, leaning forward slightly, and getting the cadence up to 180 beats per minute. The Merrell Barefoot product is designed to facilitate this natural running technique. Additionally, special attention has been paid to ensure the products allow your foot to work naturally with a design philosophy driven by deconstruction. We pride ourselves on the integration of the footwear design and the running Bareform technique, which can be further explored online at www.merrell.com/barefoot with videos/articles from experts in barefoot running.
What’s been the reception to the Merrell Barefoot collection by runners, and did you receive any feedback-good or bad-that surprised you or was unexpected?
Running in Barefoot product is a different feeling. We are blown away at the level of passion we evoke from newbies to seasoned barefoot runners for Merrell Barefoot. Our Barefoot products continue to gain a following and users are super-psyched to tell the world about their joy. We continue to listen to the feedback from runners and our future offerings will bring fine tuned adjustments to improve the barefoot experience.
The Sonic Glove hit stores just before the Fall season really gets underway. Can you talk about some of the unique benefits and features to this shoe?
Barefoot fans have been asking for a way to extend their workouts as the weather changes in the Fall season and early Spring months. In these transitional months, the weather is unpredictable and varied. Our solution is the Sonic Glove for men and the Lithe Glove for women. We took the successful designs from spring and reinterpreted them in our AeroBlock mesh, which blocks wind and is highly water-resistant. This added protection is delivered without reducing breathability. It’s the ultimate “cooler weather” Barefoot runner!
Explain how the collaboration with Vibram worked to create outsoles and utilize barefoot technology for the Merrell Collection.
Merrell has been a long-standing partner with Vibram. We are honored to have been one of the select partners for Vibram to launch barefoot products beyond FiveFingers. Merrell function/style combined with Vibram know-how has been a great success formula over many decades, and Barefoot is no exception.
There’s more and more vendors with minimalist/barefoot shoes on the market each year. can you explain Merrell’s philosophy or approach to creating this footwear, and how that differs from much of the competition?
Every Merrell Barefoot product is based on a Vibram outsole platform. Every Merrell Barefoot product is based on the ZERO drop architecture. These two elements separate us from many other Brands. Finally, every Merrell Barefoot product is designed and engineered to allow a natural FIT, barefoot-friendly interior (without socks) and built via a minimal design direction we call Subtractive Design. With these guiding principles, we are confident that Merrell Barefoot will bring new consumers to the activity and delight existing barefoot consumers.
It’s been a ground-breaking year for Merrell footwear with the Barefoot collection in 2011. What’s next on the horizon for Merrell?
Merrell has been working closely with end-users across many different activities. Next stop: build a great Road Running shoe, which will debut in spring 2012. Along the way we are also taking Barefoot to water-sports with water-specific applications to augment up-and-coming sports such as Stand-Up Paddle-boarding. Finally, we have been requested by users to provide solutions for living Barefoot 24/7. The result is our delivery of versatile, lifestyle products, which allow you to train those muscles even in your daily living. They look at home in the office or at a coffee shop while you dream about your next Barefoot PR. Let your feet lead you!
Photos: Brandi Fitzgerald, Fusion Arts & Photography