Heads up, readers, Tony Post is back in the shoe game! Before I get ahead of myself, though, and in case you aren’t aware, Tony Post is the original CEO/President/Founder of the Vibram FiveFingers running shoes. Back in July of 2012, Tony made the seemingly spontaneous decision to step down as CEO, and, at the time, he didn’t offer up any idea as to what his next step was going to be. Well, the legend has returned, and he comes bearing gifts. After leaving VFF, Tony took his ideas on the road and has now built a new company under the name “Topo Athletic“. The title of the company is a combination of his first and last name (To=Tony, Po=Post) and, not surprisingly, the shoes have all of the flair and intriguing design elements we would expect from this former Vibram FiveFinger leader.
Tony’s new shoe line focuses on four key elements: zero-drop, welded seams, wide toe-box, and a split-toe design. Obviously, the split-toe design is the real kicker here, considering the other elements are available on nearly every new minimalist shoe on the market. The split-toe design is actually influenced by the Japanese Tabi shoe. The Japanese Tabi has been popular since the early 1920s because it gives the wearer better traction/grip and gives him better control over his body. In that way, the idea behind the Tabi isn’t all that different from that of the FiveFinger. However, the Tabi design is focused on giving your big toe a sense of control over your foot while allowing the rest of your toes to splay naturally, rather than “forcing” your toes into separate, one-size fits all toe pockets like the FiveFinger does (I covered this topic awhile back when going over single toe pockets vs multiple toe pockets). That said, this idea isn’t entirely unique in the running shoe world. Nike, Asics, and a few lesser-known minimalist brands like ZemGear have been using this styling for a while, but, as our friend Justin at Birthday Shoes mentioned, Tony Post seems to have invested a significant amount of time and effort into researching the functionality of this design. This includes a better focus on aesthetics and quality of materials, and customizing the design for specific activities (there will be running, racing, and cross-training models). The other element Tony has engrained into the product is the idea that these shoes aren’t here to make you better, but that they let “you make you better”.
Here is the quote from their website at TopoAthletic.com.
Every athlete understands that better does not just happen. You have to make it happen.
You make it happen through a series of choices that make you better today than you were yesterday. By choosing to train smarter and work harder. And then doing it again tomorrow.
It was this understanding that led us to found Topo Athletic: a brand created for and by athletes with a mission to develop athletic gear made with humble innovation.
“Humble” because we know quite well that our equipment doesn’t make you better—you make you better. Our role is to help.
“Innovation” because we are committed to the ongoing study of physiology, environments, and emerging technologies that enable athletes to constantly improve.
Let us know what you think of Tony Post’s new endeavor in the comments!