First Impressions: Vivobarefoot Venus


We’re coming in to spring now.  time to retire the winter boots (for the most part — curse you rainy weather!) and dig out the cute shoes.  The cute shoes go to work, or to visit my family, or to the library for just the right book to knit with.  They are not clunky.  They are light and breezy.  They look like spring.

Like these.

These are the Venus shoes from the newest line of VIVOBAREFOOT by Terra Plana.  What do you think?  I contacted VIVOBAREFOOT and asked if they would share a pair of shoes with me in exchange for a review on Simple Savvy, and they obliged.  I couldn’t be happier.

I asked VIVOBAREFOOT and not another company because VIVOBAREFOOT sells barefoot (or minimalist) shoes.  Barefoot shoes are shoes that are essentially the same as going barefoot.  Check out these soles.  They are 3mm thick.  There’s not a whole lot of rubber between me and the ground.

[As a quick introduction to barefoot and minimalist shoes, I’ll tell you that research suggests that having less cushioning and support in shoes is better for your body and health.  If you want more information, check out Damien’s blog, Adventure in Progress and the forum Toe Salad.  Damien hooked me onto minimalist shoes in 2009 when I began considering the impact of my posture on the migraines.  Which means I’ve been jonesing for shoes like these for two years.  So I’ll get on to the review.]

These Venus shoes are cute — so cute that I squeed when I opened the box.  They don’t look anything like Vibram Fivefingers (VFFs), which is currently the most popular brand of minimalist shoes out there.  VFFs are toe shoes.  Mr. Savvy has a pair of VFFs, and every time we go someplace while he’s wearing them, someone stops us to ask about them, or people openly point and stare.  And while toe shoes have their place, I can’t wear them to work.  I want shoes that multitask!

As far as first impressions go, these Venus shoes fit the bill.  They look like most normal shoes, fashionable to the point where I can wear them with business casual clothes and not get funny looks.  I ordered the purple colorway, but the shoes that arrived are closer to gray, which is perfect.  They have a criss-crossed elastic over the top of the shoe to keep them on my foot, canvas sides, and a rubber sole.  The sole is extremely flexible, and there is a little stiffness where the sole meets the heel.

Their fit is a bit big — a half size big, according to their website — but for some reason, if I leave the removable insole in, my big toe brushes the front curve of the shoe.  I’m a size 10, so I ordered a women’s size 41, which is normally a size 10.  I expected them to be big.  I didn’t expect my big toe to be pushing against the front seam when I walk.

No worries — out come the removable insoles, leaving me with less cushion and fantastic ground feel, which is exactly what I wanted.  It feels like I’m walking barefoot, except with shoes on my feet.  I can’t feel the texture of the grass, but I can tell I’m walking on grass.  Ditto for my flagstone walkway and wood floors.

Unfortunately, without the insole, the shoes slide around a little.  I expect them to mold to my feet as I wear them more, and the sliding isn’t deterring me from wearing them, but that’s something to keep an eye on.  The seams on the inside are all finished, so no discomfort there.

In the day since I’ve owned these, my feet have worn a dusty outline on the shoes’ soles, leaving me with some concerns about durability.  Lily and I are hard on my shoes.  We went through a pair of (admittedly cheap) winter boots in six weeks.  I’ll be sure to watch that progress as well.

Overall, I’m pleased.  My feet stayed dry as I dashed through the downpours we’ve been getting.  I wore these shoes to work and no one noticed they were different from normal shoes until I pointed them out.  Score!  I’ll be sure to check back in a few weeks to see how things are coming along.

There are a lot of companies out there offering barefoot shoes of different styles and colorways.  Check out VIVOBAREFOOT if you’re interested in stylish minimalist footwear that you can wear to work.  And if you want to go barefoot, there are some really comprehensive resources out there with great information.  Learn ahoy!

My favorite barefoot people


©2011 at Simple Savvy, the simple living blog where I’ll give you fair warning: don’t just jump into minimalist footwear, or you’ll hurt your feet.  Take it a little at a time, okay? 

11 responses

  1. Great review! Wow, and thanks for all of the link love!

    Please post a link back to here from the Toe Salad directory too, others would definitely be interested in reading this.

    • Look at you, with time to post on my blog when you’re moving to another country! Thanks for popping in, and I’m happy to send links your way anytime. 🙂

  2. Nice Review, thank you! 🙂 What I totally love about the VIVOBAREFOOTs is the looking: As you mentioned, nobody recognizes any difference to normal shoes. So I can have my ‘barefoot-feeling’ everywhere, even at work 🙂

  3. I love the style, but I worry about durability too. Definitely post about that later, if you don’t mind! I’m curious what these will look like in 6 months. I’ve noticed a lot of these barefoot shoes are just ridiculously expensive, when the whole point is to be using as little fabric/leather/rubber as possible.

    • I’m keeping an eye on the durability for sure, especially because barefoot shoes are pricey. I think they cost so much because the manufacturers use higher quality materials (in theory, at least) since they’re putting less stuff in the shoes. That is, of course, my opinion as a non-shoe-making person. 🙂

  4. Christine,

    Would you think me “uncool” if I got the exact same shoes as you? I’m being offered a pair and I just love this model. We wouldn’t necessarily be showing up at the same social functions now would we?

    • Of course I wouldn’t think you uncool! Unless you hit up social functions in the Connecticut/Massachusetts area, chances are we’ll never come across one another. And even if we did, we could be shoe twins. I don’t mind these things. 🙂

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