Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Next Big Thing - Products to get excited about: Part 1 - Skora

So, barefoot running as a movement is officially having a serious impact on major shoe design throughout the industry. "Barefoot" and minimalist shoes are now making up a significant percentage of overall running shoe sales in the U.S., and all indications are that the trend is only going to increase. The fact that some of the big boys (New Balance, Merrell, Nike!, etc.) are on board with increasingly minimal footwear is great news for gear junkies like myself, but I get really fired up by the smaller, innovative upstart companies that are pushing the envelope in innovation and design. I most recently reviewed the exquisite, ultra-minimalist Altra Adam and found a new favorite road shoe.

All the pretty colors!

With a market so newly-flooded with intriguing minimalist shoes, one may ask where a smaller company fits into the picture. Skora, a complete newcomer, appears to be aiming at becoming the Apple or Volkswagen of the running shoe world. Their product line, currently consisting of the asymmetrically-laced Form and the criss-crossed-with-velcro-straps Base road running models, boasts high-quality materials, innovative and unique designs, a "connected" running experience, and a fetching aesthetic. For a complete list of features, check out the tech section of Skora's website. The combination of these factors really sets Skora apart from the field, and their prices reflect it ($125-$195). If the shoes are as good as they claim, however, I believe the prices will prove quite reasonable. I would expect the Base to appeal greatly to the triathlon crowd which would put it in direct competition with another boutique-cum-heavy-hitter Newton. The Form is a bit harder to categorize, but its appeal to minimalists is already clear simply based on its zero-drop, proprioception-focused construction, which is still quite rare especially in such a neat looking package. I hope to be able to review one or both of the Skora models in the near future to bring everyone the full picture with a feature-by-feature breakdown. *fingers crossed*
Interesting marketing angle. Oddly enough, Skora's shoe might just be a preview of the future of running shoes - making minimalism the new normal. I dig it.
The two flagships. Note the prices.
One item that Skora has unquestionably gotten 100% right is the educational side of the running equation. Skora seems to have taken cues from the likes of Merrell and VIVOBAREFOOT by rolling out instructional materials that teach good running form. The fact that the majority of runners transitioning to minimalist shoes that have not run barefoot/minimalist before are going to have to drastically change how they run is embraced by Skora. Their method: "The Three Rs." They stand for reconnect, reposition, and rhythm.

Related anecdote: I remember being a teenager watching videos of skateboarders shredding a session down an entire city block and getting completely pumped to go ride my skateboard. As I matured, I recognized in myself a love  of watching videos of athletes doing athletic things athletically because it always motivates the heck out of me. Runners with strong form now top the list (followed by rock climbers/boulderers; I could watch that crap all day!). If you suffer from the same tendencies, here's a bit of motivation from Skora to give you that push off the couch. Enjoy!

For more info on form, products, and pricing, check out or  

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