Some of you may have heard early rumblings about another initiative to bring suit- or slacks-ready barefoot shoes — no, I'm not talking about Primal Professionals or Tune Footwear's just arrived loafers (Surprise! Tune's are for sale now! Stay "tuned" for a first look in the next few days!).
Allow me to introduce you to Altum Footwear. Altum is in the early stages of producing an Oxford shoe for men that can easily pass in your dressiest attire. The Altum dress shoes promise to have the following characteristics:
- Thin, flexible Vibram sole
- No heel or arch support
- Lightweight materials
- Wider-cut toe box
That is, if they see the light of production. And that's where you come in. Let's get this kickstarted! Read on!
Altum on Kickstarter
First a video to whet the appetite. Check these shoes out:
Altum was founded by Rory Hennessey and Jeff Mroz — ex-college roommates turned professional football players (Rory for the Lions and Jeff for the Cowboys). Rory and Jeff are trying to bring their brand of dressed up, business-suit-ready-yet-foot-friendly shoes to market by crowdfunding the initial manufacturing process through crowdfunding site Kickstarter.
You can check out their Kickstarter campaign here. It officially launched yesterday and is already off to a great start with $16,822 raised of their $30,000 goal!
If you're new to Kickstarter, here are the details of how the process works — in the words of Altum:
We are launching our pre-order campaign in partnership with Kickstarter, a crowd-funding site that makes the pre-order process nice and easy. By using a pre-order system for our initial order with the factory, we are able to make sure that we get the exact size and color combinations that you want. This removes the guesswork in trying to figure out how many size 9s we should order or how many pairs in black or brown or red. Knowing this information allows us to really hit the ground running.
This is a quick overview on how Altum’s Kickstarter Project will work:
- We will have 30 days to raise $30,000 through the sale of pre-orders to fund our initial order of shoes. (Why $30,000? That is how much cash we need to source and manufacture our first order of made in the USA shoes.)
- You will be able choose the color(s) and size(s) of the shoes you would like to pre-order and enter your billing information.
- At the end of 30 days, if we have successfully met our goal of raising $30,000 your credit card will be charged and we will begin making our initial order, getting them delivered to you ASAP.
- Even though our goal is $30,000, there is no cap to how much above and beyond that we can raise. Hopefully that number ends up being $300,000 or better yet,$3,000,000!
Sound interesting? What exactly would you be getting with an Altum pair of shoes?
Let's check out the prototype shoes.
Altum has already tested out four colorways of their Oxford barefoot shoes. You can see them above. Also, below is a walk around the shoes in the brown and light brown leather colorways. Note that the photos were provided by Altum — I've yet to try these in person!
Being that it's so hard to get a sense for the toe box of an Oxford-styled shoe—any guy will tell you these shoes are notorious for cramping your toes—I asked Rory if he could photo his foot stomped down on the front of a pair of Altums.
While this is in no way a scientific way to solve photoing the width of a toe box, things look pretty good:
As for the Vibram soles Altum plans on using, you can see them below. One benefit of using Vibram soles in this way is that it should make sole-replacement much easier since it's less proprietary (than say the cleverly camouflaged but brand-proprietary Primal Professional sole that is currently under production).
Here's a close-up of the soles:
As you might expect, a thin, rubber-soled shoe is likely to transmit a lot of ground feel. Even better, it's likely to be exceedingly flexible, allowing the foot to move dynamically:
Between the wide toe box and the thin, flexible sole, Altum co-founder Rory has been wear-testing his Altums running and working out. Why would you run in dress shoes? Well, you probably wouldn't except as a means to prove a point, which is that functional, healthy footwear is defined by it's lack of constraints on the dynamic, natural capabilities of your feet. In other words, a good shoe should be functional in all sorts of endeavors, even if it's aesthetic best fits an expensive suit.
Here's a shot of the insides of a pair of Altums (and you'll note throughout the photos Altum provided, none are with socks, which tells me these are pretty comfortable shoes against your bare skin):
Barefoot Shoes for Suit Slacks!
Ultimately, the question is: how good will these shoes look paired with the kinds of pants you'd wear with a suit? Well, as you can see above and in the photos below, aside from the notable lack of a blocked out heel, these black Altums look great with some pinstripe pants. Mind, you're probably going to need to make sure your pant hems are short enough not to drag on the ground — a trip to your tailor may be in order!
Will Altum be Funded? It's up to you.
While I've yet to try a pair of Altum's out or even held a model in my hands, I like what I'm seeing out of Rory. These Oxford's look really good. The word "premium" comes to mind.
But will they see the light of day? It's not clear. Raising $30K is no walk in the park. And if you're not sold on some of other, existing options in the barefoot dress shoe category, maybe these Altum's are just what you're looking for.
What say you? Want to invest? If so, head on over to Altum's Kickstarter page now!