You might have read our recent review of the Merrell Barefoot Road Glove. Well, Merrell Barefoot decided to create a casual wear, leather shoe (potentially for work?) built on the road glove Vibram sole.
It's called the Merrell Barefoot Edge Glove and retails for $110, and if you dig it's suede-leather looks and need a neutral, zero-dropped minimalist shoe for casual or (business casual, if anything) work attire, then read on because this may be the shoe for you.
Meet the Edge Glove
The Edge Glove is one of Merrell's "Barefoot Life" shoes that is geared towards everyday wear. It's most distinguishing feature is probably the simple use of a suede upper in lieu of something a bit more sneaker-ish — mesh — that and being monochromatic (most colorways, anyway) and available in brown, tan, and black. The idea, I think, is to provide an option that may be passable in the office, depending on your office's culture around "business casual."
Under the hood what you've got is a shoe that fits similarly to the recently released Road Glove in that the Edge Glove has the same sole as the Road Glove. The Edge Glove is heavier due to thicker, heavier materials (leather over mesh) and feels a little sturdier on top.
You'll notice that the Edge Glove has a sort-of rubberized toe guard — a "fused rubber toe bumper" — that is reminiscent (though not quite as beefy) as the Trail Glove's toe protection (review).
If a picture's worth a thousand words, take a view below at some images of the Edge Glove:
How's it fit?
The two best things going for the Edge Glove's design as far as fit is concerned are that they are neutral heel to toe having no heel lift (they are "zero-drop"), and they have an anatomically-minded toe box, meaning my toes feel comfortable and not squished or rammed up against the sidewalls of the shoe. My feet are average widths — not wide or narrow.
The arch of the Edge Glove tapers in (as seen with this photo), and while this is noticeable, doesn't annoy and I'd be hard pressed to call it "arch support." Inevitably, if you don't like having something with structure up against your arch, you're likely going to take issue with these (as well as the Road Gloves or Trail Gloves, for that matter).
The Edge Glove fit feels true to size (I wear 10.5 and these were 10.5) and the overall last of the shoe made my foot feel well seated — not sloshing about inside the shoe.
How's it feel?
I tested the Edge Gloves by wearing them both barefoot and with socks. The Edge Glove's insole is stitched-in and there aren't a many seams to irritate your barefoot should you choose to wear them that way (Case in point, see this picture of the toe box from inside the Edge Gloves). So you can totally rock these barefoot should you choose to forgo socks. This was actually my default way to wear them. If you're familiar with VIVO BAREFOOTS, I'd actually say the Edge Glove feels more comfortable on my bare foot than a pair of VBs. Incidentally, I'll say that my favorite wear'em-barefoot-shoes are still the silky smooth-lined NB Minimus Life/Wellness (review) (with the original Minimus Trails and new Minimus Road Zeroes being right up there).
However, you're more likely going to be wearing the Edge Gloves with pants or jeans since you're likely going for a dressier look than sneakers can provide if you're picking these up. And by extension, you very well may be necessarily wearing socks with the Edge Gloves. If that's the case, you'll be happy to know that even though the Merrell Edge Gloves can be worn barefoot, they are actually marginally more comfortable with socks on.
As far as ground feel is concerned, the sturdy Vibram rubber sole matched with the 4mm EVA midsole go a long way toward muting ground feedback. It's hard to measure the total sole thickness of the Edge Glove, but my trusty (?) skinfold calipers put it at around 13-14mm (if anyone has a better number here, please chime in!).
If ground feel is most important to you, I'd just pick some Soft Stars up. Of course you're going to get a slew of ground feel in the Edge Gloves over any number of traditional shoes out there, it's just that relative to other minimalist shoes, I'd not put these at the front of the ground-feel pack!
Meanwhile, the entire platform of the Edge Glove feels a little stiff and heavier than I'd like it to be. These are still pretty light shoes, but they just feel a little more built up than I feel like they should be. Reduce the sole thickness a smidge and maybe eliminate the molded arch and I think they'd feel a lot better.
How's it look?
This is probably the biggest question needing answering. After all, having checked the box on the Edge Glove being biomechanically "ok" (neutral) and physiologically "ok" (sizeable toe box, minimal arch support), what you're really wondering is, "Could I wear these casually or maybe even to work?"
Well, the best I can do here is share a few photos and talk about my own thoughts — ultimately, this is a pretty nuanced question that will ride on your own perception as well as your own sense of style (and if you're wearing them to work, your office's culture around fashion!).
Let me start with some photos of a recent workday outfit — some pin-stripe Banana Republic boot cut pants with the Merrell Edge Gloves:
I think the above worked well enough and, generally speaking, the Edge Gloves seem to pair well with most pants so long as the pants aren't slacks — the distinguishing feature of slacks being that they are made of a thinner material (usually wool) and look pressed.
The Edge Gloves seem to pair better with pants of substance — like those boot cut pinstripe pants pictured above or with jeans as with below:
I think the suede of the Edge Glove just works better with a more textured pant. At least, that's the best I can do at conceptualizing my own sense of fashion!
Having said that, I've a feeling many of you are likely wondering about Merrell Barefoot's other casual-or-business-casual minded shoe — the Tough Glove pictured at the right. I actually have a pair of Tough Gloves and, for me, the Tough Gloves just didn't look "right" on my feet. It was something with the matte-finish of the leather uppers and the overall bulbous toe box that, in combination, didn't look flattering on my feet (Mrs. BirthdayShoes did not approve). Comparatively, the Edge Gloves just seem to look better all around (Note: a good friend of mine has rocked the Tough Gloves for well over a year to work and they look pretty good on his feet, which are interestingly fairly narrow compared to mine. He loves the Tough Gloves.).
If there's one nit about these shoes aesthetically it's the toe bumper. It's not needed in a "life" shoe and it just doesn't seem to fit with the nice, suede upper. I also don't really understand the use of orange accents on the tan colorway (photoed throughout this review); note that the black and dark brown Edge Gloves have neutral accents. And I'll reserve comment on the light-colored/blue/yellow Edge Gloves. The orange accents are in no way deal breakers, they just don't seem to really be needed for a casual shoe.
Whether or not you could pull the Edge Gloves off at work or casually is going to be up to you. And if you like the look of this shoe, well, that's what really matters in this case — it's all about your personal preferences! For me, I definitely like the Edge Gloves over the Tough Gloves in the looks department and have worn them with virtually zero commentary from anyone. That's a real departure from the norm for me!
I'll wrap and say that I think the Edge Glove is a solid new offering for casual or pseudo-work attire from Merrell Barefoot. At $110 (from Zappos), it's not cheap, but it is a well constructed shoe that should last quite some time. I'm not enamored with mine for some of the reasons stated above, and if I had to pick a borderline business-casual work shoe that is barefoot friendly, I'd probably go with the VIVO BAREFOOT Oaks (review) for all around comfort, style, and foot-friendliness. However, if VIVOs aren't your thing and you dig the looks of these Merrells, well, who cares what I think, anyway?
And on that note, I'll ask: what do you think about the Merrell Barefoot Edge Glove? Sound off in the comments below!
Here's what you're looking at with the Merrell Barefoot Life Edge Glove from an "official specs" standpoint:
Feel grounded and enjoy life in our edge glove barefoot shoe. Its minimal cushioning and Vibram® sole give you just enough underfoot protection, while letting your feet land flat to feel the earth beneath your feet – stimulating the senses, strengthening muscles and improving alignment.
UPPER / LINING
• Barefoot strobel construction offers flexibility and comfort
• Cow suede upper
• Fused rubber toe bumper provides durability and protection
• Nubuck leather rear foot sling provides stability
• Internal support construction secures the midfoot for optimal fit and support
• Integrated microfiber footbed treated with Aegis® antimicrobial solution resists odor
MIDSOLE / OUTSOLE
• 4 mm compression molded EVA midsole cushions
• 1 mm forefoot shock absorption plate maintains forefoot flexibility and protects the foot by distributing pressure
• 0mm ball to heel drop keeps you connected to your terrain
• Vibram® Traction Glove Sole / TC-1 Rubber