See “update” section below!

Everyone is getting on the barefoot bandwagon these days. What more, given the burdgeoning success of Vibram FiveFingers — the original toe shoes — not to mention the uber-economical-(though-functionally-inferior) Fila Skeletoes, which brought mass distribution and mass marketing to the toe shoe market mix, is it surprising that finally a big shoe manufacturer decided to run with toe shoes in lieu of releasing yet-another-Nike-Free (cough Reebok RealFlex, Skechers GoRun cough)?

It’s almost like “barefoot shoes” are a recognized segment of the footwear market these days. What gives?

More photos, video, more after the jump!

Photo via CounterKicks.

Introducing the Adidas AdiPure Trainer. Adidas just announced these guys today and there’s been a decent amount of press due to an AP article on the matter. Here’s a clip of the “adiPure” news via Sarah Skidmore of the AP:

The world’s second-largest athletic company unveiled its first “barefoot” training shoe Tuesday, which is designed to mimic the experience of exercising barefoot while providing the protection, traction and durability of a shoe. The Adipure Trainer, which is a cross between a glove for the feet and a traditional shoe, hits U.S. stores in November priced at $90.

The barefoot shoe is part of a strategy by Adidas, which is based in Germany, to expand into the U.S. where rival Nike dominates. Adidas joins a list of athletic makers trying to tap into the small but burgeoning U.S. market of fanatical runners and gym-goers who swear by shoes designed with as little material between the wearer and the ground as possible.

The Adidas AdiPure Trainer toe shoes mark the first entry by Adidas in to the five-toed footwear market.  Photo credit: Associated Press.
The Adidas AdiPure Trainer toe shoes mark the first entry by Adidas in to the five-toed footwear market. Photo credit: Associated Press.

“People who believe barefoot is the way to go…are very emphatic about it,” said Matt Powell, an analyst with industry research organization SportsOneSource Group. “They want to spread the message. It sounds religious but some of them are evangelical about it.”

Here is a video of some exercises you could do in “barefoot shoes” — mind, none of this will come as any surprise to just about anyone of us, but imagine how many people will now be exposed to the concept of “toe shoes” through Adidas. For those of us who “grew up” with Vibram FiveFingers, are you ready to have people ask you about your Adidas toe shoes?

Check it out:

While details are still emerging on the Adidas Adipure, what we know today is that they are going to be making their way into stores at a pricepoint of $90 in four different colorways. Stores that are expected to carry the Adipure toe shoes include The Sports Authority, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Foot Locker.

What do you think? Just by the looks of these, I’m optimistic they are more flexible (and comfortable) than the Fila Skeletoes. It’s interesting that they went with a strapless design for the upper of the adiPure. I’m also wondering if the soles on the adiPure are intentionally not rising above the ends of the toes so as to ensure they aren’t running afoul of any intellectual property questions (and avoid a lawsuit by Vibram).

If you hear anything about the adiPure, send it on in to us or comment below.

I have to admit: I’m pretty curious to try these things out! What do you think?

Update

Photos from Gizmodo of the Adidas Adipure toe shoes.
Photos from Gizmodo of the Adidas Adipure toe shoes.

Seems someone at Gizmodo got their feet into a pair of Adidas AdiPure.

Here’s the essence of the Gizmodo write-up — see if you don’t find it a bit … well lacking in detail:

So how do they feel? Actually good. The shoe’s upper is similar to low profile water shoes (better quality, natch)—elastic, stretchy and hardly noticeable around the top part of your foot. I do, however, feel a bit of restriction around my toes. The ethylene and vinyl acetate midsoles—essentially a ton of foam cells that contain air—are perfect though. When your foot lands, the foam compresses and the air gets pushed out, then sucked back in. Unlike Nike Frees which focus on re-creating a barefoot (read: less shock absorbent) feel, the Adidas Adipures provide a cushion so you don’t feel every jagged edge of the ground. But it doesn’t try to overcompensate on that cushioning, so when you’re doing exercises like box jumps you’ll feel your toes and feet searching for balance, trying to grab the ground. It’s like doing brand new core exercises for your feet—working the important little muscles that mean more than the big swooping ones.

So if I’ve got the Gizmodo author right, he thinks that Nike Frees “focus on re-creating a barefoot (read: less shock absorbent) feel” whereas Adipures “provide a cushion so you don’t feel every jagged edge of the ground.” Yet Nike Free 3.0s, the most minimalist of the Free line-up, are cushy enough to block ground feel almost entirely. How could the AdiPures, which appear to be much more thinly soled than the Frees, still be so plush as to be more cushy than a pair of Nike Frees? I’d be amazed (and perplexed as to why) if Adidas pulled off this feat.

Meanwhile, how do you mention Nike Frees in the same sentence as the Adidas AdiPure toe shoes and not mention Vibram FiveFingers? I don’t get it.

What catches my eye most from the Gizmodo piece is the photo of the toe shoes being worn, shot from above. Anyone else feel like the AdiPure toe shoe pockets extend a bit past the ends of the toes? One issue with all shoes — one solved by adding “toe spring” by traditional footwear — is that the fronts of the shoes can “snag” on the ground due to the shoes reducing the dorsiflexing of your toes. FiveFingers do this from time to time, which can cause the toe to bend under the foot and snag the concrete/ground, resulting in a tear to the upper fabric (hence the addition of “TPU toe protection” on models like the Bikila FiveFingers). Anyway, it seems the rubber wrap around that you get with FiveFingers may have been a design feature to reduce extraneous toe pocket material off the end of the toe pockets on toe shoes (there’s just no easy way to say that). I wonder if this will be a problem for the Adidas AdiPure shoes.

Update 2 – Stack.com video

More on the adipure via Stack magazine’s video featuring Mark Vestergen (NFL, pro-athlete trainer) and founder of Athlete’s Performance:

I’ve tried to round up all the relevant info out there on the Adidas AdiPure toe shoes here, but owe thanks and mention to other discussions about the shoes around the web. For further reading, check out: Yelling Stop, RunBlogger, CounterKicks, Nice Kicks, and Zero Drop.