Help find a new casual / business casual shoe

Discussion in 'Gear & Footwear' started by Eric's feet, Oct 21, 2016.

  1. Eric's feet

    Eric's feet Barefooters

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2016
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    1
    Please move this thread if it should be elsewhere. I'm asking for opinions of footwear that isn't strictly 'running', but is similar to many barefoot running shoes, so I figured you all might be able to help.

    So, I guess this is a sign of me getting older, but I finally found a pair of shoes I love, and now they don't make them any more [​IMG]

    I picked up a pair of Merrell Barefoot Reach Gloves back in 2013. I was originally skeptical, but I fell in love with this 'snug' lightweight shoe, and was able to wear it almost everywhere in a casual / business casual environment.

    Things I loved about them:

    • Lightweight
    • Snug fitting with a high instep (I have a moderately narrow foot without super wide toes)
    • Seemed to last forever, even though the sole was thin and lightweight. I wore them for three years and they were only just starting to show wear on the fabric of the insole, and the sole was only around 50% worn.
    • Zero drop, and thin, so that I could 'feel' the ground. Originally this felt weird, but I grew to really like it.
    However, I recently left them in a hotel room overseas, and now Merrell doesn't make this or any similar shoe any longer. The gloves they do make which have similar soles are very athletic-looking running shoes, and I just don't feel like I can get away with that in a business-casual environment.

    The Tune footwear boat is the top contender I have seen online that 'looks' similar with a similar sole. But I don't see many reviews of it. The biggest concern I see in the few reviews I do find is for durability of the sole, but on other accounts it seems the most similar to my reach gloves. The fact that this company was launched out of an indigogo campaign also makes me question the overall quality level as they likely just went to a low-cost Chinese shoe manufacturer and didn't have a ton of experience going into the design.
    http://www.tunefootwear.com/boat

    Most other 'minimalist' zero-drop casual and business casual type shoes seem to have gone for more 'slipper' type flat soles. I have no doubt they are comfy, but I get the impression that they won't hug my foot with a higher instep like the reach gloves did:



    Anyone have any suggestions? If you know of other forums online I should ask, please let me know as well.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Barefoot TJ

    Barefoot TJ Administrator
    1. Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2010
    Messages:
    20,481
    Likes Received:
    6,614
    Have you seen the new Ipari Hanas from Xero Shoes? I'm working on putting up a Giveaway Contest right now, so look for that. In the meantime, you can check them out and order a pair here: https://xeroshoes.com/shop/ipari/hana/
     
    jjb and Eric's feet like this.
  3. Eric's feet

    Eric's feet Barefooters

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2016
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    1
    No, I hadn't. They look like a great option. Thanks!
     
    Barefoot TJ likes this.
  4. tilleyman

    tilleyman Barefooters

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2016
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    1
    I would take a look at the Soft Star Shoes Hawthorne Chukka. I have a pair and they are amazing (looks, comfort, quality, build). You can order different widths. They make most shoes to order and do so QUICKLY and you should talk to them about your foot. I get more compliments over these shoes than any other pair I own. They are ALMOST dressy enough to wear with a suit. They are perfect for sportcoat and no tie and are really perfect for starched shirts and khakis type of dress.

    PS: I have a pair of Merrells (medium/default width) like you did and if you liked the fit in those you will like these in a narrow width. Also, the toes are a bit snug the first week. It takes them a while to form to your foot. But when they do they are very comfortable and you don't notice the shoe on your toes (which means they are not to snug nor too lose- just right) I also am intrigued by the new Zero shoes model. Not that I need a pair but I will eventually have to get a pair since I love their sandals.
     
    #4 tilleyman, Oct 24, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2016
  5. Tristan

    Tristan Barefooters
    1. Ohio

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2011
    Messages:
    1,855
    Likes Received:
    2,761
    I second Soft Star, and you'll get a quality small local business made product and not something made in a Chinese factory. I don't have the ones tilleyman mentioned (don't think they were available a few years ago when I got mine) but I got the Dash, in both smooth black and chocolate, and they pass for business casual good enough for my job. The leather is very soft and a bit stretchy, if it is snug you'll be able to see roughly the outline of your toes through the leather, which is unusual for a shoe but is what makes them so comfortably soft feeling. I also would have mentioned Vivo and Lems but see those already hit your list.
     
  6. tilleyman

    tilleyman Barefooters

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2016
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    1
    I have a pair of Soft Star Dash's for running. I've thought about trying them in the office but their structure is much more loose than with the Hawthorne Chukka's- comfort the same. It would sort of depend on your office's definition of business casual. In some places that simply means removing your coat and tie. In others it just means no jeans or shorts.

    You mentioned Lems. Their Primal 2 is one of my favorite shoes. It is pushing it a bit for me to wear at the office but I do sometimes anyway. (they are sort of a hybrid of a sneaker and casual walking shoe) Would love to try a pair of Vivo's but hesitate as it seems they have less toe room than other minimalist brands out there.

    Edit: The Tune's look interesting but the reviews I saw seem carefully and safely written. I think the jury is still out on their build quality. They may be great but I would wait for some more adventurers to say so.
     
    #6 tilleyman, Oct 25, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2016
  7. jjb

    jjb Barefooters
    1. California...

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2015
    Messages:
    90
    Likes Received:
    82
  8. hikerdana

    hikerdana Barefooters
    1. New Hampshire

    Joined:
    Feb 29, 2016
    Messages:
    176
    Likes Received:
    264
    Has anyone tried out these shoes by Primal Professional now called Chronology. They are the classiest dress shoes I have ever seen and they actually look like a real dress shoe with a heel, but they have zero drop and a thin sole. They are very pricey around $350 USD, but appear to be well made. I've been following them for a few years now, wondering when I'll get enough money to buy a pair.

    The website has some interesting information most people on this site would find interesting. I liked the part where humans can actually run down any animal on the planet.

    http://shoes.chronology-lg.com/
     
  9. Smogz

    Smogz Barefooters
    1. Sweden

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2013
    Messages:
    126
    Likes Received:
    44
    I have the Vivobarefoot Lisbon. What I like about them is that you can see that they are barefoot with a totally flat sole. But that's me. Don't like the Primals because they pose as heeled shoes. I might be the only one, bit if I wear heelless shoes I don't want a heel to be seen.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    DNEchris likes this.
  10. jjb

    jjb Barefooters
    1. California...

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2015
    Messages:
    90
    Likes Received:
    82
    Those are so gorgeous.
     
  11. Kyrrinstoch

    Kyrrinstoch Barefooters
    1. Minnesota

    Joined:
    May 20, 2014
    Messages:
    239
    Likes Received:
    289
  12. Smogz

    Smogz Barefooters
    1. Sweden

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2013
    Messages:
    126
    Likes Received:
    44
    No, not att all the same. But the Ra II are ok, not on the same level though.

    Porto is on the same page, more chukkalike, not sure if they are still in production.
     
  13. hikerdana

    hikerdana Barefooters
    1. New Hampshire

    Joined:
    Feb 29, 2016
    Messages:
    176
    Likes Received:
    264
    I have the vivobarefoot Ra and I think they are the Ra II. They have a orange logo on the back. I don't care for the logo, but otherwise they are nice shoes. So far I haven't been told they are not fancy enough for the dress code and I've had them for almost a year. At a glance they are better looking than some of the shoes other people wear, but you are not suppose to wear 'walking' shoes either. They are easy to slip on and off under my desk so I can stay barefoot except when walking around the office.

    shoes small.jpg
     
  14. kozz

    kozz Barefooters
    1. Oregon

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2011
    Messages:
    200
    Likes Received:
    132
    All these designers that think a wide toebox is the thing are completely off the mark. A high toebox is what's important. And most err on the too-wide side making for a slippery shoe.
     
  15. Tristan

    Tristan Barefooters
    1. Ohio

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2011
    Messages:
    1,855
    Likes Received:
    2,761
    I have to disagree there @kozz too narrow of a toe box is probably the biggest or perhaps second most important thing wrong with most shoes, in my opinion. My feet aren't that wide by measurement but appreciate the roomy toeboxes and often times are still not wide enough for me. Some very flexy shoes like my Soft Stars bend easily with your toes so height isn't even an issue, kind of like saying socks need more height. The shoes should be secure through the mid section where laces are and firmly set by the heel, toes shouldn't be providing the support. What often happens though is they make the whole shoe too wide, not just the toebox, then things might get a little sloppy feeling. But sure in a more rigid shoes like the Vivos above they are a bit snug with the height. Perhaps a bit more space would be nice, but I'd not say that it is much more important than proper width.

    Doesn't look like Eric ever came back though. Maybe he will yet return.

    I had debated on a new pair of shoes for work, mainly just on Soft Stars since I know they work nicely for me and check all the marks I want checked for a good minimalist option. But I jumped ship this time and trying Lems nine2five. They had a good sale back on black Friday weekend which made the shoes quite a bit cheaper than I was looking at with the Soft Stars. They definitely have a more businessy look to em, and I've had their boulder boots for a while and they seemed like great minimalist footwear other than the somewhat thick sole which isn't much concern to me just for walking around the office. Well first impression is they are a bit stiff and rigid but maybe will loosen up with some use - I've not worn them but around the house so far. Will have them when I go in to the office next week so time will tell. They look quite nice really just like a normal shoe, but I really do like the unique and hand made look of the Soft Stars.
     

Share This Page