Friday, November 23, 2012

Death to Flip Flops - Steven Sashen's Passion at XeroShoes (b2d Interview Conclusion)

Flip flops are great ideas but they suck -  they cause all sorts of walking aberrations  clawing toes to hang onto these things; not real fit, and we've all lost one making an attempt to run in them. And they make a funny sound in a quiet hallway. Nice to feel the air on toes; not nice to kill the foot in the pocess. 

Huaraches, on the other hand, solve these problems. They are the next best thing to being barefoot, and in some respects, they may actually be better in terms of bringing awareness to one's step. The best sandals i've encountered for running, walking and generally banging about - from the warmth of a Seattle Summer to the rain of a UK fall - are Steven Sashen's Invisible and now Xero Shoes. And yes, even in the fall heading to winter, these are cool footwear. 

an example of a slip on tie style for a xeroshoe - 5kmile guarentee.
The b2d first six weeks review is posted here. There's also the first part of an Interview with Steven about the modus operandi behind founding Invisible (now Xero) Shoes over here. 

It's Thanksgiving in the US; Facebook is filled with reflections on folks giving thanks, and talking about various dinner options. A lot of thanks is around health. It seemed appropriate to come back to the final part of the interview with Steven more about the philosophy of barefooting, eating, health and well being around now. 

That Steven's also hosting a Thanksgiving 20% off sale on XeroShoes till Dec 2 is no small thing either. 

So without further ado, let's step into the messy irony of talking about "barefoot running" when very few of us are actually naked of foot

Steven Sashen Xero Shoes:
Mission - death to Flip Flops

How do you feel about the term barefoot running, when really most of us are not running with bare feet? 
Check out our post "barefoot running isn't just running barefoot"
All right, i've done that. And you're suggesting that you see folks run just as poorly in minimalist footware as you do in runners.

Part of me finds this narrative really really hard to believe: one of the things that has become a truism with me when i talk with folks about taking off their shoes to explore grass and other surfaces running is that YA CAN'T HEEL STRIKE - or put it this way - you won't do it more than once or twice cuz it hurts: it's self correcting. apparently not??
That said... It depends.Most people use the term as shorthand for "barefoot-style running" which is shorthand for "natural movement" which is shorthand for "don't overstride, mid- or forefoot strike, get your feet off the ground by lifting your knees rather than pushing with your feet, and HAVE FUN!"I'm okay with that usage.But I take issue with shoe companies that refer to their "barefoot" products that are still, well, just shoes.
I don't care how flexible your outsole is (not as much as ours) if there's .5" of EVA foam under your foot, or if the shoe has a big arch built into it, or it's so narrow I can't get it on my foot, or it restricts my foot's movement.
example of an outline for a custom xeroshoe

one of the fun facts i like to share with folks:our feet have 24% of the joints in our body - the most of any part of our body (besides the head and the movement of those joints is debatable so leaving that aside)why have that many joints in the feet? each joint being surrounded by proprioceptively wired nerves is sending information about where we are in space and how fast those parts are moving. The brain is WIRED to get that information. The more of that picture it gets, the happier it is, the clearer it's sense of where we are is.
AGREED... and if you don't give the brain that stimulation, it stops paying attention (the brain map for your feet de-differentiates).
The analogy is with shoes on it's like being in a region with a weak cell signal - only a couple of cell towers to give a phone signal and the transmission can sound choppy and drop out and just be really hard to hear what exactly is being said - lots of effort goes into getting the info.
Great analogy.
When there's loads of cell towers in an area, the signal is strong, the voice comes across loud and clear, we can relax and just focus on the conversation - less effort. Our feet are wired to give the brain a super duper incredible clear signal because i guess we evolved such that that much info was pretty important. Shoes kill our wiring. 

sorry for that digression. 

And the brain (your phone) needs to be turned on with the battery charged. If you don't use it, it drains and gets no signal.(it's a feedback loop). 
Even the VFF has enough padding/stiffness in the sole that it dramatically reduces the amount of feedback you get (and need) from the ground.
hmm. i've been pretty happy with the bikila's - but yes running actually barefoot does feel a lot different. 
I've seen SO many people put on Bikilas and go out for an overstriding, heel-striking run.
Most of us on "this side" of the barefoot running movement will say "It's not about the footwear, it's about the form," but that's only partly true.
everyone can be their own cobbler with xeroshoes
nice observation.

Barefoot is not the same as shod (even in our sandals). And having your feet touch the ground is a very different experience... and a valuable one.
agreed. but unlike Mike Wilkinson whose series on Barefoot Running you commented on i believe - i haven't given over to all bare all the time. Perhaps i'm just a wus. 

There are no bonus points or gold stars for being barefoot all the time. 
Further, I hate when people say "I got hurt barefoot running," and they've never actually been barefoot or, worse, they've only been in a pair of Nike Free.
i hear ya. 
And I really hate when doctors say "My patient got hurt barefoot running," and they never asked the patient "Were you actually bare footed?" and didn't check their form on video tape, and don't keep in mind that, 40 years ago they were saying "My patient got hurt in these new padded running shoes."I could go on... ;-)
by all means, feel free: your experience with real folks is valuable here, so i'm happy to take in whatever ya got. 
Oy, I would if I had the time. It's all (mostly) on the blog... and in the upcoming posts
--Ok, well lets shift a little bit to what's on that site. you also tell folks how to make their own sandals - without purchasing from you. That's very cool. how did you decide to give this away? 
It just seemed like the right thing to do.I made my first pair by scrounging for materials and it was a blast. I wanted to make that possible for others.Plus, I knew it would foster creativity. I like to say there's been more creativity applied to sandals in the last 2.5 years (since we started) than there has in the 19,998 years since this type of sandal was first invented.
You have collected some impressive stats, Sandal Man.
I do what I can.
is there a commonality among IS wearers? 
Other than that they wear our shoes?
yup - but that in itself is cool.
 Less and less every day.The types of people who wear our shoes expands every day. At first it was almost all men. Now it's probably 55/45. More kids are wearing our shoes lately. More hikers, kayakers, walkers, and other non-runners are buying from us. More people who just like the look (and no nothing about performance or biomechanics) are buying from us.
do you find that most folks are still buying for running, or is it becoming all the time everywhere?
More and more customers are not runners.
(personally, i'm trying to figure out how i can wear these through the uk winter of rain - how many months in can i get...i really do want to get this tying thing sorted for that invisible feel, so that these *just work* for breaking into a run - which is most of my commute mechanism) and
Cool acclimatisation work there...

[Update - two days ago 5C UK, hard rain - those sandals were great for keeping my feet - well not dry of course but not sopping wet with wet shoes and socks. got to work, sluiced off my feet, put on some sandals i have there, and away we went.]

Ok back to business and vision: what would you like to see happen with your business? what looks like success to you?  (what's next for invisible shoes)

Oh, boy... I know that what will REALLY happen next is probably something I can't plan, so I don't actually know what's next.That said, things are expanding and growing FAST.
it seems to have been fast pretty much from day one!
We're moving out of the house (which can't fit all the product and people) and into commercial space in 2 weeks (edit - this statement is from end of Aug. 2012; move is done).
he makes bows as well as shoes...
Thanks.I guess it'll be a while until I get  that nap I hoped for.

We just hired the founder of Avia Footwear (who, most recently was the senior designer/developer at Crocs )
Good for you taking that person away from unflexible flippy shoes  
He came willingly. ;-) 
We have a few BIG accounts we're talking with (thanks to our success at the Outdoor Retail trade show.
May i ask - what does that mean - folks who would like to see iShoes/Xero's in their stores? buy them for all their employees?
Can you say "Huarache Making Merit Badge"?Or LL Bean catalog?
So, what's next is expanding our product line, improving our current products, providing more educational material online
The friendliness of the material is awesome.YOu have great prsescence on the vids - professional while also being engaging. 
Very kind of you to say.
Also will be doing more comedic stuff (like sh*t barefoot runners say / and sh*t runners say to barefoot runners ).
that's very good. i particularly like "where do the orthotics go"

and really, dude, over 50? would not have guessed. thank you for redescribing age perception, too. 

Thank my mother and her lineage. That's where I got it.
And if you don't mind - another aside - what is your weekly TIME spent doing movement stuff - deliberate movement like running or biking or training of some kind - is running your main movement activity (sounds like you bike as well?).
I bike around town a lot... oh, and I have a treadmill desk. So I'm moving about 8-10 hours every day, minimum.
and one more: how would you describe your approach to diet/food? 
Curious, inquisitive, unwilling to believe in miracles (but wishing there were one), and, as always, looking for what's TRUE rather than what people THINK is true.
For example, the paleo diet is a big deal now...
Well, I've never liked meat. EVER. (one paleo doc thinks I have a genetic disorder where I 
don't taste umami well and, therefore, don't like meat). Plus, many paleo teachers and bloggers are still 20-50 pounds overweight!  
As far as I can tell, what makes paleo work, for those that it works for, is that fat and protein are satiating for them, so they eat fewer calories without noticing (I have more research that proves that). But there are vegans who make the same claim. 
The idea that one diet fits all makes no sense to ME in particular, because I'm a genetic freak (remember, fastest Jew in the world over 50). It seems reasonable that my dietary needs would be different from someone who doesn't have the same genetic makeup and can't sprint. That could be wrong, but it's reasonable. 
It's not worth getting into the particulars of my diet... but let's just say that I'm happy and worried about the fact that our new office is less than 100 yard from
Cool - thank you - so Success for Invisible/Xero shoes is...
Success? Our goal is the eradication of the flip flop from the planet! ;-)
Goodness - i admit i have reasons to think the flip flop is evil but what are yours? and i support your mission!
They don't fit, they use your feet all wrong, they fall apart (or are too expensive)... etc. In the meantime, I'm just focused on growing the brand, helping people discover the fun and benefits of getting out of their shoes, engaging with our customers, and having FUN doing it.
Care to share a few of the things that equal "fun doing it" with captal FUN? that would be great to hear. 
oh, making the comedic content, teaching, chatting with people online, going to events, having meals (did I mention there are gourmet doughnuts near our office? ;-) ) If, along the way, someone offered to write us a check with a lot of zeros at the end... I wouldn't complain.
goodness, we must have a similar philosophy i wouldn't mind that either. 
I'll see what I can do.
Excellent! Thanks for the time about the business, you, and the where and how of where y'all are going. 

And with that, Steven, shod in new green colored Xero's, went off to his donut, walking desk and replying to more customer queries. 

Reminder of that Thanksgiving Day Sale...till Dec 2, 2012

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