User Stories

Getting Married in Primal Professional Shoes

I got married in mid-October of this year, and suffice to say there were a lot of things that went wrong. It stormed like crazy on our outdoor wedding. Water began to leak in from the sides of our tent. The band cancelled last minute. Our outdoor pictur…

As we celebrate the world not ending today, I’ve got a pretty unique user story to share from Randall. Randall recently got married and was lucky enough to do so as an early-tester of a pre-production model of The Primal Professional!

Read on for Randall’s story, which is basically a mini-review of the Primal Professional. You’ll also find a way to pre-order the “PriPro” and save money, if you do so before 2012 comes to a close. The Primal Professional will be arriving some time in Spring 2013)!

Here’s Randall’s story (Note that the “Mountain’s note” asides were provided by Mountain Chang, the Founder of the Primal Professional):

I got married in mid-October of this year, and suffice to say there were a lot of things that went wrong. It stormed like crazy on our outdoor wedding. Water began to leak in from the sides of our tent. The band cancelled last minute. Our outdoor picture locations had to be scrapped. People traipsing through mud unable to find the restroom on a poorly lit path. The DJ played the wrong song and the efficient got so nervous he called my bride by the wrong name. Needless to say, there were problems. But lucky for me, and thanks to the folks at Primal Professional, my shoes were not one of them.

I had a unique problem coming into my wedding. Several years back I began to run minimalist footwear and escaped the constant pain and injury that support shoes and inserts could not resolve (or perhaps caused?). Since then, whether I’m in my casual office, long-distance racing, or Crossfit WODing, you’ll find me in a zero-drop shoe. There are times, however, that I have to dress nice: formal occasions, job interviews, high profile customer meetings. Those days I would fall back to my old Johnston & Murphy’s. Since going barefoot though, any shoe with a significant heel lift caused pretty bad pain, and I’d take them off whenever I could. I knew that I wouldn’t be taking off my shoes during my wedding, and expected to just deal with it

Enter The Primal Professional! I first saw them on Indiegogo, then followed closely on Facebook and blogs such as this. As our community knows, there aren’t many options in the way of formal minimalist footwear. Sure, there are a few out there but they LOOK like they are a minimalist shoe. The last thing you want in a professional or formal situation is someone constantly staring at your feet wondering what the heck you have on. I decided rather quickly that these would be shoes I would own. They would also be perfect to go with my suit on my wedding day.

I followed the updates from Mountain and his team on the Facebook site, and as the wedding date got closer I noticed they had hit a few production snags. It began to be clear that the shoes would most likely not see a production release by the time of my nuptials. As a last ditch effort I emailed PriPro, explained my situation and asked if they had any updates. They immediately went out of their way to try and locate a pre-production test pair that may fit me and have the shoes shipped my way before the wedding!

Mountain sent me a size 10 W, built on their old last which ran large, so they fit my typically size 11 feet. [Mountain’s note: the new lasts will run true to size]. There was also plenty of width in the toe box for toe splay, which is exactly what I was hoping for. The only thing that wasn’t quite right was the shoe was a bit tight on the top of my mid-foot area and caused a bit of pressure on either side of my foot. Initially this was irritating, but after the leather began to break in it became unnoticeable. The full-grain leather was comfortable, and like any good leather shoe became more-so as leather broke-in and softened up. As far as build quality, this is generally a well-built shoe. I didn’t notice any areas in the leather that would appear to be a concern, or on the shoe’s interior. On one shoe, one of the rivets that the laces go through came loose from the leather. None of the others appeared to be loose or weak so this may have just been a single bad rivet. [Mountain’s note: Production engineers have identified and fixed the problem.]

The pair sent to me was on top of a test sole. This was really nothing more than a roughly cut flat piece of plastic-like material, and there was no kind of simulated heel like there will be in the final production model. It did give the shoe a bit of an odd appearance, but it wasn’t enough of one once on my feet to cause people to stop and take a second look. [Mountain’s note: it really was just a piece of midsole material. We make sure the fit is good with a pull-over sample like the one Randall wore, before dropping $2k+ for an outsole mold] With that being said, much like the top of foot issue, this quickly became a non-issue as I didn’t notice with extended wear. I would say that any thoughts on the sole may be fully resolved once the final production model is released.

I also think the shoes could benefit from some padding at the back of the heel cup. This may just be personal preference as all my minimalist shoes tend to have this feature. There were no signs of rubbing on the back of the heel that would indicate to me that this is a requirement, but rather I feel it would be an added bit of comfort.

Over the past month I’ve put about 30 hours into my test pair. They’ve been through heavy rain, mud, cold and sunshine. I’ve walked up and down steep hills at a winery commitment ceremony and jogged on wet pavement to get out of the rain. Through it all, as is the sign of any good shoe, I never noticed they were there. Perhaps more importantly, nobody else did either. My shoes didn’t for one moment take away from my formal appearance. They blended in with my formal attire just as they were supposed to do, and gave me one less thing to worry about on the day of my wedding. I can easily recommend The Primal Professional to anyone looking for a minimalist shoe to match business or formal attire, and I for one can’t wait to see how the final run turns out.

First off, congratulations on getting married, Randall! Looks like you survived a wild (er … primal!) wedding ceremony.

Second, thanks for the detailed observations on the Primal Professionals! I’m pretty sure a huge swathe of the minimalist shoe enthusiast community is eagerly awaiting the arrival of these “barefoot dress shoes.” Really, to me, having a comfortable dress shoe that won’t make me cringe to attend a wedding is something I’ve been subconsciously desiring since I was probably 10 years old and being “dressed up” in my Sunday best.

It’s been a long time coming.

Mountain, Founder of The Primal Professional, passed on that they are now building molds for producing the PriPro’s unique outsoles. This process will be complete January 18th and they’re projecting 12 weeks from there to shipping shoes (around mid-April).

For now, you can save $30-$50 with a pre-order before 2013 (so any time through December 31, 2012) by placing an order at Guarantee a pair for yourself from their very limited first production run with no risk — “Full refunds available anytime before ship date, estimated to be Apr 12th.”

Thanks, Randall!

I’m going to take a wild guess as to who has the most comfortable footwear in this photo …

By Justin

Justin Owings is a deadlifting dad of three, working from Atlanta. When he's not chasing his three kids around, you'll find him trying to understand systems, risk, and human behavior.

6 replies on “Getting Married in Primal Professional Shoes”

I was among the minimalist show enthusiasts who eagerly awaited the arrival of the Primal Professional. Then I saw the price. I am sure it is very hard to get a new shoe to market, and maybe it really is that expensive to produce a show of this quality as an independent manufacturer. But at $310, I will never own a pair. At $100 I’d snap them up. At $200 I’d give it some serious thought. At $310, I’ll be wearing my Vivobarefoot Ra for about 1/3 the price. Maybe he’s planning to compete against the really high-end dress shoe market, but I just can’t imagine spending that much on a pair of shoes.

I agree with Dan. I just got married in October in Vivobarefoot Ra’s. My then-fiancee thought they’d look terrible (“clown shoes” was the term she used) but they looked great and no one knew I wasn’t in stiff-soled loafers.

Michael, I have to disagree. If you want to take care of your feet, then you have to get good shoes. My job requires that I walk and be on my feel all day while wearing a suit. The Primal Professional price of $330 is nothing compared to a pair of Ferragamo’s at $1,200. While good shoes may sound expensive, they really are a bargain in the long run. Doing all the walking that I do, I was buying a new pair of shoes for $100-$150 per year. Now I buy Magli’s or Ferragamo’s and they last for at least two or three years before I take them to be resoled for about $25-$30. With the resoling, my shoes last between 5-7 years. Do the math: I can spend $150/year for five years for a total of $750, or I can buy a $400 pair of Magli’s and my feet are better for it. Plus good shoes don’t have a break-in period, they fit like a glove from the moment you put them on.

Getting back to Primal Professional, here are my issues:
1) I hate the idea of waiting 6-12 months to get the shoes. Nobody wants to tie up $330 for six months
2) I don’t like that they only come in whole shoe sizes. Some of us are half sizes and whole don’t fit, no matter how wide they are
3) I don’t like the fact that half the toe-box is empty so your toes end in the widest part of the shoe. The website says that all good shoes leave space at the end. I can tell you as a 20+ year wearer of the best shoes available that this is not the case. The toes extend to the end of the toe-box. I would imagine that he empty space at the end of the toe-boxes in Primal Professionals will eventually cave in after a few months of use, which is unacceptable for a $330 shoe. I feel they should simply widen the end a bit more (they can leave it a bit tapered for appearance sake) rather than leave half the toe-box empty.

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