Barefoot Shoes

Meet Tune Footwear: Barefoot-Friendly Dress Shoes

A few months back BirthdayShoes became aware of Tune Footwear. They are a nascent minimalist shoe manufacturer focused solely on bringing to market men’s footwear that could fit in in the office environment — in the form of the age-old men’s style, the loafer.

Foot health is so hugely dependent on wearing shoes that allow feet to function naturally (more on this here), yet most of us spend at least eight hours a day working in office environments where shoes that look like feet just don’t fit the office culture. And really, of the minimalist shoes available even as the category has grown, there haven’t been a ton of options for dress shoes that cater to bare feet. That’s changing. While you may be aware of Primal Professionals (Dressy oxfords set to be released soon, hopefully), I doubt you’ve heard of Tune Footwear — until now. A few months back BirthdayShoes became aware of Tune Footwear. They are a nascent minimalist shoe manufacturer focused solely on bringing to market men’s footwear that could fit in in the office environment — in the form of the age-old men’s style, the loafer. Intrigued? Want to learn more about Tune’s mission? Read on for more photos and a survey that will directly impact the future of Tune Footwear!

About Tune Footwear — straight from the Founder

BirthdayShoes blogger randomly met the founder of Tune Mike Norris whilst out and about wearing his Skora Forms. Lo and behold, Mike had read Tim’s review of the Skoras not a few days prior, struck up a conversation with Tim, and quickly learned that they had BirthdayShoes in common! Tim, Mike, and I quickly got in touch over email and I started learning about Tune. The result of these conversations and Mike’s appreciation for our community here are why he decided to bring a first look at one of his Tune Footwear styles straight to But before we get to those photos, I asked Mike to share a bit about the future of his company. Below is what he had to say!
From left to right are the tan pebbled Ornament Loafer, the chocolate pebbled Tassle Loafer, and the Tune Boat shoes. (Not pictured: the Penny Loafer)
Tune is coming out with four different styles, a penny loafer, tassel loafer, ornament loafer, and boat shoe. All designs are a dress/casual style and are made for young professional in the workplace that have adopted minimalist athletic footwear into their shoe collections. I myself am a young professional in a very traditional office environment. I work in financial advising industry and the dress code is what you’d expect. After I made the transition to minimalist athletic shoes (I’ve owned Five Fingers, NB Minimus, Stems/Lemings, Altras, and I even golf in True Linkswear), I found it extremely uncomfortable and unhealthy to wear my classic loafers and oxfords to my 9 to 5. I also realized I was wearing my dress shoes for at least 8 Hours A Day, and that they were worse for my feet than my old traditional running sneakers. Most dress shoes have big heels over 20mms, a very narrow toe box, and extremely stiff outsoles. That’s why Tune’s first campaign is called 8 Hours A Day….we’re encouraging men in the workplace to wear healthy footwear for the entire span of their workday. Tune footwear is all about wellness; however, we’ve done our best to keep the classic looks and styles that have stood the test of time in men’s dress/casual footwear. Whether you call it minimalist, wellness, or just plain healthy, Tune Footwear has focused on three main principals:
  1. A shoe that’s Flat. No pitch (zero drop) is crucial in order to walk with a natural stride.
  2. A shoe that Fits. A wide toe box is necessary for every man in order to account for the natural expansion of his foot at impact, and all the way through the stride. A wide toe box is masculine and I think lots of guys will appreciate that….especially when they realize that pointy dress shoes evolved from a feminine high heel design.
  3. A shoe that Flexes. All men’s dress casual shoes are stiff, rigid, and hard which make it almost impossible for your foot to function the way it should. The human foot evolved to flex and feel when in motion. Ground feel is so important for balance and stride adjustment. Feeling the ground actually helps prevent injury.
Thanks so much for the help and please let me know if you have any questions. You can tell fans to visit us at and to like us on facebook. Mike

Meet the Ornament Loafer from Tune Footwear (Tan Pebbled Leather Colorway)

The following photos are of Mike’s present design of the ornament loafer. Mike’s Tune designs have already been through a series of testing and iterations are being made (right now) to finalize the design for the first production run! Until we get a hands-on with the Tunes (which we will!), how about some photos to whet your appetite? Personally, I am incredibly excited that Tune is bringing these loafers to market. There is a gaping hole in the minimalist dress shoe market and I think Mike’s products here could be just what we need to restore comfortable feet to the (often stuffy) workplace! I think Mike has his ducks in a row in how he’s approached the design of the Trues and, really, just looking at them I have to say they look incredibly comfortable.

You can shape the future of Tune!

At the bottom of this post are a handful of questions around Tune Footwear. The survey requires no email address or other input (other than a minute of your time) to complete. Basically, it will help Mike determine which colors in the dressier styles (not the Boat shoe) readers would prefer. Note that the black pebbled leather is not pictured. If you want to stay on top of Tune, check out their Facebook page or their website (Note the site isn’t fully fleshed out yet!)!


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.

22 replies on “Meet Tune Footwear: Barefoot-Friendly Dress Shoes”

Looks great! I love that they look like regular business casual shoes! Sometimes you just need to have that business casual look! I am looking forward to these being available! Any idea on price point?

So……women get left out of Tune’s lineup? Hmmmm……I suppose this is typical, but with a start up I would think Tune should branch out before launch. This all looks interesting but not for half of the population.


No doubt it’s disappointing to see women are left out, but I think you have to consider that this is a start-up business — not a well-funded shoe release. I’m actually blown Tune is able to roll out four (albeit similar in concept) shoes in their first run. Given that Mike was first and foremost trying to solve a problem he personally had, it only goes to follow he’s start with a men’s shoe, right?

Oddly enough, I know of a handful of minimalist shoe upstart companies and not a single one was founded by a woman (yet). I’ve no idea why this is the case but I do know that this should be a huge sign that someone could come along and really get a head start on creating foot friendly shoes for women. Hmm …

@Lydia: In my workplace I’ve noticed women generally have a much greater variety of footware to begin with than guys. Where I work we (theoretically) have a ‘business professional’ requirement for attire; many women wear sandals of various kinds that get a passing grade.
For men- our options are pretty much limited to oxfords or leather loafers.. all of which current have raised heels of course, and are as inflexible as anything.
Please don’t begrudge us this meager expansion of footwear!
Women have many excellent options that are close to minimalist wear already, and I’m thankful someone has noticed the market for the dudes.

Great concept. Would it sound ungrateful if I said these look a little *too* traditional? As in, more my father’s style than mine. Still, a great first run. I hope to see some more modern styles soon.

I linked to the website but all tabs were passcode protected so I couldn’t look at anything beyond the front page which is really just a splash. Did the founder provide a code to allow for viewing his site?

I like them. I’m hoping that some company will put a non-slip sole on minimalist footwear. I work in an environment where that is needed as well as the conventional look.

These look pretty decent. I like the boat shoes quite a bit actually. Hopefully the toe box is plenty wide in these. It is hard to tell from the pictures.

+1 to Cameron.

Wearing sandals to work is just not acceptable for men, and women get by with sandals even if it is below freezing outside. Luckily, I don’t have strict shoe requirements at my work. I usually have my SoftStar Roos on most days. If I have to wear something dressier, then I only wear them for a couple hours at most.

Justin, I didn’t see the most important question. What’s the price going to be?

I think $150 plus free shipping is a reasonable price point. It would say that women many more options than men when it comes to footwear in the workplace, so it’s nice to see a company work to meet a specific need. I love have the represent the bass clef….that reminds you march with a healthy natural stride (beat) and helps you step in tune!!!

i would LOVE a pair of barefoot feel penny loafers – but as a woman i seem to get left out of the barefoot dress shoe revolution. yes, we have more “options” – more painful, restrictive, bunion irritating, blister causing, hobbling options. i wore my five fingers to work with a LOT of criticism. i am looking forward to a woman’s shoe!

Women already have “ballet flats”. Even ones that are made to roll up and fit in a purse (Footzyrolls and, I think, I’ve seen another brand in the footcare section at Walgreens). Men have nothing. Minimalist dress shoes for men should be even a bigger market than minimalist athletic shoes for men, since no one cares what you wear on your own time.

Men’s dress shoes are inherently generic looking anyway so, all a female has to do is find these in an appropriate size.

About these “Tune” shoes:
It’s a nice attempt at a sorely underserved market, however, the toebox looks “wide” in the same sense as those by Vivo: not very. Here’s a sole view of the Tunes:

I’d like to see companies focusing more on ‘oblique’ for the toebox, rather than just “width”. Vivo makes the forefoot wide but then still crunches the toes together by making the toebox symmetrical. Obliqueness is what’s needed to allow the big toe to be straight and not have the overall foot swimming in the shoe.

I think I might wait for the Leming dress oxford. Leming’s current shoes have extra width where it’s desperately needed (at the big toe) so, I’d gather their upcoming shoes to be similar in that way.

The shoes are out now, just got mine in the mail and i have to say they are great. I’ve been running barefoot and with vibrams for about 3 years now, and since i work on a farm I’m either in vibrams or barefoot nearly 100% of the time. However, when ever i go out on weekends or to a casual event i have to cram my toes into my loafers. Now that i got these i can look good and still feel great. At first glance i thought this was too good to be true and felt the pictures made them look not wide enough, but they are perfect width, and they fit and feel like ninja shoes, I’ve never felt so agile in a pair of loafers. Props to tune for filling a much needed market and doing it right.

These are very nice looking, comfortable shoes. However, just be warned that the lining is plastic and the soles are pretty thick. I really liked the fit of these shoes but my feet quickly started sweating, with and without socks, just sitting at my home office. I’m not sure how the soles do outside because I wasn’t keen on the lining. I’m waiting for the alternative linings and then will repurchase.

Beware: Tune promises easy returns but it is anything but.

In fact, it’s been seven months since I’ve sent mine back for a different size, and I have yet to be reimbursed for the size that didn’t fit.

Tune is aware, and has promised to remedy it, but has failed repeatedly.

In fact, lately, they just ignore my emails.

Edit from above post:

Apparently, there was a snafu where my emails where accidentally sent to Tune’s spam folder.

Not only did they make good on my refund, but they sent me an additional free pair of shoes!

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