Tony Post has gone from five fingers to two toes, all in the quest for the ultimate sneaker. The former Vibram CEO, who brought us the FiveFinger shoe, is finally showing off his next shoe project from his startup ToPo Athletic. Just like the original Vibrams, ToPo’s (Tony Post, get it?) first line is sure to elicit the same puzzled reactions from those count their toes in sets of 10.
Post’s shoes are based on the split-toe tabi design from Japan, used mostly in socks and Jika-tabi boots, which separates the big toe from the rest of your piggies. Runner Shigeki Tanaka wore the first enclosed tabi shoes, made by Japanese company Onitsuka (now owned by Asics), when he won the 1951 Boston Marathon. Since then, well, there hasn’t been much attention paid the two-toed approach outside of surf booties and oddball bohemian fashion. Nike dabbled in the tabi design with its Air Rift design in the late ’90s, but even the word’s mightiest athletic shoe marketer couldn’t make the shoe sell. But with the “barefoot” running craze in full swing, Post is betting the two-toe approach is finally due for a comeback.
The tabi design is supposed to help improve balance and stability while running and lifting weights. “One of the challenges with a full toe box (the traditional shoe design) is creating a sense of security,” says Post. “With the tabby fit, it creates a unique anchor point between the first and second toes.”
ToPo Athletic’s first line has three styles for men and women. The RR is a lightweight racing shoe that uses 48 thin steel cables twisted together and covered in extruded nylon as lacings and will cost $130. “This is our premium shoe,” Post says. The $110 RX is designed for CrossFit training and weight lifting and has a strap across the instep of the foot to give it more stability. Lastly, the RT is an every day training shoe and will retail at $100.
Post knows the design won’t win over every sports shoe shopper, but he’s betting on serious athletes embracing the two-toe kicks for their performance characteristics.
Right about now you are thinking, socks? How will that work? ToPo Athletic collaborated with toe sock company Injinji to make tabi socks that fit the new line. Of course, without socks, all your toes will fit inside just fine.
Make all the lobster jokes you want, but remember Post was the man who convinced the likes of author Timothy Ferriss, Google’s Sergey Brin, and tens of thousands of others to put those rubber FiveFinger gloves on their feet. By comparison, the two-toes look downright sleek, and more than a little bit performance driven. So don’t be surprised if Post pulls off yet another shoe market upset.
If you’re itching to get your feet into a pair of ToPo Athletic shoes, and can stand a little mocking, you’ll have to wait until May 2013 when the shoes hit the market.
Source | Re-blogged: Wired