Merrell is making big, big waves in barefoot-style running. Not only have they developed some revolutionary products specifically for running, they are taking the whole barefoot lifestyle seriously. Shoes geared towards running, casual wear, work, water, hiking, fitness, and even snow are all on the market or in the pipeline. The biggest deal in the Merrell Barefoot Collection, though, may be the attention towards women. Rather than a traditional "shrink it and pink it" approach, where manufacturers have been guilty of just dressing up a men's shoe, Merrell actually have an entirely women-specific line with unique women's models.
But even aside from the products they are offering, today Merrell rolled out an entirely women-specific online barefoot running resource, which they call Pretty Strong. I like what Merrell did with the Bareform program (you can read my thoughts here on how I feel form is more important than the shoes themselves). Merrell's Pretty Strong campaign provides videos, a blog, a place for testimonials and stories, and even music that has the kind of tempo that helps with barefoot-style running.
My favorite aspect is that the website has a 40-day training program for women looking to ease into barefoot or barefoot-style running. Rather than just hock shoes, the program actually encourages truly barefoot training. Remember, shoes are tools. Moira is planning on doing the whole program and blogging about it, as she is a perfect candidate, right at that critical time in her own fitness and training. Check out this video about the whole Pretty Strong campaign, then scroll below for Moira's take on one of Merrell's newest casual styles for women, the Wonder Glove. The video is very well done, shows some great running form (check out our friend Emily on the road, she truly demonstrates good, barefoot-style running form).
This is Moira's second shoe review! Her first one, about the Merrell Dash Glove, highlighted her new strides as a runner dipping into barefoot-style running. This one will focus on one of Merrell's casual styles for women. The best part, in my observation, is that it looks great, she says it is comfortable, and she gets all the same barefoot benefits she would in something a lot more conspicuous. Take it away, Moira!
I am a Mary Jane girl. Since I ditched my Doc Martens from college, I've worn Mary Janes for work and casually for years. My feet are a little narrow so they always seemed to fit me just right. Since I switched to wearing minimal casual shoes last fall, I had a big hole in my work shoe lineup. I was left with two pairs of black pumps and a pair of beat-up Toms, which just weren’t cutting it.
I had seen the Wonder Glove online before a pair of my own arrived at my house, I was so excited by the prospect of such a cute minimal casual work shoe! These shoes feel a lot like Toms, in that they are feather light and almost like ballet shoes. The Merrells are obviously far superior in construction and fit, however. Really durable, and they are leather. The interior of the shoe is smooth and ideally suited for sockless summer days. The strap kind of wraps around my foot, as it's a little diagonal rather than just a straight-across-your-foot fit. There's a bit of elastic fabric across the mid foot (the toe and heel are leather) and a cuff of elastic around the top of the heel. This kind of helps to cup the shoe to fit your foot.
The best part about these shoes is the attention to detail! There are pleats across the toe, and a great silver scroll features that dresses these shoes up (but they would work with shorts or jeans as well as with a business casual skirt of dress). I got many compliments on these shoes the first day I wore them to work. They also provide a nice kick of color, which is unexpected in an office environment. They are totally flat on the bottom, no arch support, which feels fine (and makes these more of a “barefoot” shoe than a conventional Mary Jane). I don't stand a lot at work so I really can’t comment on how these would be for someone who was on their feet all day. For casual wear, arch support is not necessary for me, although the very subtle arch curve in the Merrell Dash Glove, which I also reviewed, was welcome for running.
So if you're looking for the elusive minimal casual/work casual shoe, you need to give the Wonder Glove a try! I'm so thankful that Merrell took it upon themselves to provide a minimal non-running shoe, and make one that is so darn cute.
The Wonder Glove is available from Merrell in a wide variety of colors, as are several other similar styles...now there are options for a funky, fun, casual, minimal shoe for women! Here are a few more photos:
The Wonder Glove was provided by Merrell.