Just finished listening to the livingbarefoot.info podcast with Al and Tina in which they interview "Barefoot Moe" and then Vibram USA's Georgia Shaw. Moe's portion is certainly informative, but it lasts into the first 45 minutes of the podcast with Georgia's part in the last fifteen minutes or so. I took some notes from Georgia Shaw's interview regarding Vibram Five Fingers, so if you prefer to just get the gist, read on:
- [minute 45] Barefoot Moe has fivefinger Sprints and Classics. Moe talks a bit about the pros and cons of VFFs.
- [minute 53] Georgia Shaw interview begins
- Is a women's KSO Trek in the cards? heard a lot of feedback from women who would like to have KSO Treks. Assurance that consumer feedback is always considered- "the more we hear back from women who are interested in trying this model, the more likely we are to answer that."
- Why only men's KSO Trek? KSO top model for men in early 2008 when KSO Trek was considered. Sprint was first, then Classic, then KSO.
- FiveFingers Moc design? Vamp higher for Moc for aesthetic purposes - men like the coverage to come up to the hemline.
- [minute 58] FiveFingers Bikila: running-specific model. Released Spring 2010. Available for both men's and women's. Bikila will be released to retailers with running-specialty shoe space "carved out" will be carrying Bikilas. Mid-February and early March.
- [minute 60] FiveFingers Speed: won't be released in North America. Could be exclusively in Europe or only a concept piece.
- [minute 61] BirthdayShoes forum questions:
Why difference in price between America and Europe? Products in Europe tend to cost about 50% more in Europe than in the United States. This is due to different distribution models in Europe than in the U.S. VibramUSA distributes direct to retailers in the U.S.; not so in Europe.
- Waterproof model in the works? Premature to say they are coming out with a waterproof model, but they are always testing new designs out.
- Wide options in the future? Traditionally FiveFingers can fit feet from A to EEE, so hasn't been necessary.
- Production increases in the future? Yes. See [Vibram's note on availability and production per the official Vibram fivefingers facebook page]
- Kangaroo leather. Is it more stretchy or less? Less. It has no stretch at all, but there is elastic at the collar to provide it some give.
Though a lot of the material covered by Georgia has been covered here on the blog or in the forums, there are a couple things that were mentioned in the interview I have thoughts on:
It's informative to hear the rationale behind not carrying a women's KSO Trek. There's been a lot of gnashing of teeth about Vibram's decision here and many have opined about it in the forums. My hunch was apparently close to reality — the decision was due to gender specific demand. I had guessed this on looking at the results of the birthdayshoes sizing and fit questionnaire (still teasing that data for more insights!). Mind this data is just from a sample of those willing to respond to the survey, but even so, out of one hundred respondents, roughly three-fourths of all respondents were male.
Here's the FiveFingers gender breakdown by model:
Mind, the decision on the male-specificity of the Trek was made in early 2008, so things may have changed somewhat now. I'd also guess based on Georgia's comments that it was the popularity of the Sprint with women that drove the creation of the 2010 Performa Jane. The tipoff I picked up was that Vibram is keeping their ears to the ground — if there is enough interest in the KSO Trek for women, they are likely to produce it.
I also found the European vs. United States pricing discrepancy point interesting. It seems that one of the drivers of higher prices in Europe, in addition to things generally just being 50% more expensive there, is that the distribution model is more involved, meaning there are more layers between sellers and buyer, which tends to drive up price.
Finally, I have to wonder if the fivefingers Speed will ever see the light of day. Georgia noted that it may be released in Europe or it may just be a prototype (Like the hapless fivefingers Cortina)