Although polarizing, Vibram created a buzz among consumers and footwear industry insiders alike when it launched its atypical FiveFingers “toe shoes” in 2006. But the latest evolution of the franchise is sure to spark a different conversation.
In what Vibram has called the first step in the future of FiveFingers, the company has delivered the KSO Eco iteration of the shoe. Vibram said the look, which is described as an everyday casual and comfortable minimalist shoe, honors its “long history of respect and love for nature.” With this in mind, Vibram equipped the KSO Eco with updates added to reduce impact on the environment without sacrificing the comfort, quality or performance.
“We are setting ourselves up to listen more closely to our end users through a consumer-led product development environment. We are connecting and engaging with them more than ever and in different ways, and what we’re hearing from them, very clearly, is the desire for products made with natural ingredients,” Fabrizio Gamberini, Vibram Corporation global chief brand officer and president, told FN. “With the new FiveFingers KSO Eco, we know we’ve achieved that goal for our end users but also it’s another step forward for Vibram as we continue to work in more sustainable ways.
He continued, “From as far back as 1994 when we launched the Vibram Ecostep compound, made from a minimum 30% recycled rubber, Vibram has had sustainability at its core so bringing that into FiveFingers was vital.”
For starters, the Vibram FiveFingers KSO Eco features the company’s N-Oil outsole, a flexible and grippy component that is made with more than 90% natural ingredients. Also, Vibram said the colors used the soles come from 100% natural pigments that are extracted from plants or through drying techniques. And the model also comes equipped with soft and form-fitting sustainable hemp uppers.
What’s more, Vibram stated it didn’t use additional materials such as PU and Film to produce the uppers, and the creation process was performed without the use of solvents or chemicals.
After a limited-edition drop in December 2020, which Vibram said sold out within days, the company has restocked the FiveFingers KSO Eco via Vibram.com with a $110 price tag.
Looking ahead, Gamberini explained the role sustainability will play in Vibram product creation, including FiveFingers.
“Innovation is in Vibram’s DNA. While we continue to provide confidence on the feet of our end users, we are also looking globally at different innovations as well as the grade of sustainable materials — biodegradable materials for example,” Gamberini said. “We are committed to exploring, investigating and investing in materials that won’t impact our planet and our wonderful outdoors.”