Sole Man: 12 Things We Learned About Minimalism

One big factor that helped push minimalism was a very real demand coming from consumers. Photo: Brian Metzler

Minimalism Was A Fad And A Sales Pitch

Yes and no. It’s all about supply and demand and ridiculous hype. No matter what your goals are, you need running shoes — possibly twice a year — to run a new PR, to start yet another fitness program or to just finish your one and only marathon. Running shoes are a commodity backed by a good amount of marketing and advertising dollars. Running shops are in business to sell running gear and when the demand is high for a certain type of product, shop owners are smart to sell as many as possible, whether it’s minimalist shoes, compression socks or running weights of the early 1980s. No online likes to admit it, but most people buy running shoes on the aesthetics (colors, patterns, etc.), step-in feel (cushiness, seamless interior, etc.) and less about how the shoe performs. And frankly, running stores stock their stores with those notions in mind.

A few years ago, the demand for some of the hot brands of minimalist shoes was so high that shops couldn’t restock ’em fast enough. As soon as a new order came in, they immediately went out the door to customers eager to try to the new trend. But the dark secret that no one was talking about was that a lot of people were getting hurt because they weren’t prepared to run in those shoes. How those store owners have dealt with disgruntled or injured customers is their own business. But the problem was exacerbated by stories in the New York Times proclaiming barefoot running as the next greatest thing, the mainstream success of “Born to Run” and the wide range of information readily available in cyberspace. With a short number of clicks, you can find a video of a water skiing squirrel and the New York Times turning about face with another view about running in barefoot-style shoes.

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