DOET #6: Vibram FiveFingers

Today I look at the my Vibram FiveFingers:


[first impression]

I bought my FiveFingers in July 2011 with my REI Dividend, and they have been my favorite shoes ever since. They felt strange the first few times I wore them; my feet (toes especially) weren’t use to the freedom and mobility. The feeling was both natural and foreign. I felt like I was walking barefoot but I wasn’t in direct contact with the ground. Around my foot, they initially felt similar to a sock but the range of motion that they allowed my toes made them completely different.


When my FiveFingers are on, I love them. They allow me to be nimble and the natural feeling they give my feet is amazing. However, I have qualms about them when they aren’t on. They aren’t the easiest to put on, and usually require a two-step insertion: one to get my toes in and another to fit my heel. This process usually takes twice as long as putting on normal shoes. However, I find difficulty imagining how the design would allow otherwise; the glove-like fit requires a very tight design. They’re supposed to feel like I’m not wearing them, and they perform that design priority excellently.

Also, while this isn’t necessarily a usability issue, I consider their smelliness quite annoying. To keep the stench of feet manageable, I have to wash them every three uses or every week (whichever happens first). I don’t know what material they could have constructed these out of that would be both durable and stench-reducing, so again I face a problem I have no viable solution for.

[overall analysis]

There are two common reactions when others notice my “toes shoes”: 1) a confused look accompanied with a funny comment like Hey, did you forget to put on your shoes this morning? or 2) an intrigued look with a curious How do you like those? I enjoy both, and my response always evokes how much I love them. While some may have aesthetic disagreements with the design, I actually enjoy how they look. I haven’t spent much time looking at the other colors, but I love the two-tone black and silver.

Inside my house, I take every opportunity to walk barefoot. I would enjoy doing the same outside but my feet don’t play well with rough ground and would be burdensome to clean. These have been the perfect solution for me to “walk barefoot outside”, and I will surely be a loyal FiveFinger fan for years to come.

[about DOET]

Last year I read Don Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things. Inspired by Steve Jobs’ biography, I recently began thinking and reflecting on the beauty around me. There is a lot of design coverage and discussion about well-known and extraordinary things, such as a Retina Macbook Pro or a Lamborghini Aventador, but there is little towards better understanding the normal objects around us.

For the next 14 9 days, I will randomly choose an everyday household object and conduct a thorough analysis of its design in what I’m calling my Design Of Everyday Things, or DOET, project. My goal with this is to learn more about design through the careful scrutiny of products I would have otherwise overlooked. This is my refusal to take design for granted. Each analysis has three parts: first impression, usability, and overall analysis. I don’t consider this to be a review, but rather an exploration: there will be no numerical rating, purchasing recommendation, or a pro/con section.

Past DOETs: