With the 2012 Olympics only 10 days away, companies left and right are beginning to release their Olympic-style gear, Olympic branded soft drinks, and Olympic advertisements. This marketing phenomenon reaches our televisions, store shelves, and fast-food restaurants every two years (between the summer and winter games). My celebration of the summer Olympics began with my recent discovery of slow-motion videos showing the amazing running form of Olympians such as Usain Bolt and Greg Nixon. This discovery was soon trumped, however, when I found that Vibram was getting into the game with Olympic flag-style FiveFingers. Vibram chose to represent five flags in the form of an Italian, Australian, British, Dane (Denmark), and American version of the FiveFinger Classics. Even though these shoes are only available for a limited time in the Boston Vibram store, we managed to get our hands on two pairs….more after the break!
Rather than going over details regarding the sole or the performance of this VFF model, which I’m sure you are already familiar with, I wanted to use this post to quickly share my thoughts on the aesthetics of each flag style.
Although the Italian flag version of the Classics is not my personal favorite, I think it is a great tribute to Vibram’s home country. The relatively simple design of the country’s flag lends itself well to this medium. I think Vibram made an especially great call in choosing to wrap the stripes all the way around the sides of the shoe.
As much as I wanted to call these the “Denmarkian” version, I cannot, because it turns out the correct term is actually Dane (I want to get it right for our readers in Denmark!). That said, the Dane FiveFinger Classic is a fantastic model. Although the flag is simple, the colors are bright and the design was very well thought out, with the white stripe running straight up the second to last toe. Denmark’s inclusion in this limited release was a little surprising to me, though. It definitely makes me wonder if VFFs are particularly popular there. Hopefully one of our Dane readers can shed some light on this for me!
Australia, like the American version discussed below, unfortunately suffers a bit from Vibram having to jam the whole flag design onto just the toe section. The lack of symmetry and increased complexity of this and the American flag means that it is much more conspicuous that the flag is backwards on one foot. However, I do appreciate Vibram’s choice to extend the blue color across the entire shoe.
I can’t decide if it is just my personal appreciation for the British flag, if Vibram spent more time on this specific model, or if the flag design just works better than others on this medium, but the British version is hands down the best in the Olympic line-up. Not only does every detail fit perfectly on the toe box, but the colors stand out in such a way that it really puts the other models to shame.
Even though this is the model I plan to keep and will cherish (and probably almost never wear) for a long time, it is, in my opinion, the worst of the models released. Not only does the mirror image of the American flag look a little ridiculous on the left shoe, but all of the stars are not represented, and only 12 stripes are accounted for (11 if you don’t count the white area that extends around the heel of the shoe). Furthermore, I suspect that these colors will definitely run if they get wet considering the all white scheme Vibram went with. There are numerous suggestions I would have given them in regards to cleaning this design up. Mainly, though, I wish they would have done something similar to what they did with the Italian flag and extended the final (missing) red stripe around the heel of the shoe, making the sides and back of the shoe red rather than white. Also, I feel that using the deeper blue seen in the British flag model would have made the stars appear more prominent and provide a better contrast to the red and white stripes.
Despite my slight disappointment with the American flag model, I think Vibram did a great thing in releasing these exciting limited-edition models. I hope to see them come out with additional branded and/or limited edition Classics in the future as a way to make up for the discontinuation of all of the colors except for black. Be sure to vote in the poll below for your favorite version of the Olympic VFFs Classics!