To follow up on my previous article on the benefits of wearing minimalist shoes, this article aims to introduce you to some brands, known and less known, that offer quality barefoot shoes.
This non-exhaustive list is presented in alphabetical order. Plenty of other brands could be listed as well, but I've decided to only feature those I've purchased from before, or would like to purchase from. The brands are carefully selected for their quality and environmental values.
[last update : 07/07/2023]
Table of contents
- Ahinsa – vegan shoes designed by physiotherapists
- Be Lenka – the comfort of minimalism with beautiful aesthetics
- Bohempia – comfy and roomy hemp sneakers
- Kineyatabi – Japanese tradition and expertise applied to minimalist shoes
- Freet – to practice outdoor activities with comfort and lightness
- Realfoot – extra-wide toe-box for extra-free toes
- Skinners – the ultimate minimalist experience
- Softstar – very wide toe-box and multiples customizations
- Télito – eco-friendly french barefoot brand
- Vibram – like gloves for the feet
- Vivobarefoot – innovative materials and a reconditioning service
- Wildling – minimalist shoes with environmental values
- Xero Shoes – choice, quality, and frequent discounts
Vegan and handmade, Ahinsa's shoes are designed by physiotherapists and available in two categories : « barefoot » and « comfort » (for transitioning towards barefoot). Ahinsa offers a broad selection of styles, as well as an extra-wide range to accommodate wider feet. This range is one of the widest on the market, featuring a « toe-box » (i.e., the front of the shoe) that is at least 11 cm wide. A large toe-box allows the toes to have more space, which helps develop and maintain optimal foot functions.
Ahinsa's shoes are made in Czechia and Crotia with european materials.
Be Lenka is a Slovak company offering minimalist shoes, made in Europe with sustainable materials. Their design is urban and elegant, featuring a wide toe-box and a 4 mm sole.
For those who want barefoot shoes that are also fashionable, Be Lenka is an excellent brand to keep in mind. Many styles are available, whether you are looking for sandals, sneakers, boots, or even socks.
The timeless design of Bohempia's shoes will satisfy those who are seeking for barefoot sneakers that look like conventional sneakers.
Made in Europe and entirely vegan, these shoes are primarily made of hemp or Ultrasuede®. If your feet are looking for more space, Bohempia offers a « wide » range for all of its models, marked by a « w » when selecting the size.
Based in Saitama, Kineyatabi is a Japanese company. Founded in 1949, it manufactures a style of traditional socks and shoes, called « tabi », that are characterized by a separation between the big toe and the rest of the toes.
The big toe being a crucial element to keep balance, this separation will give it more freedom to move, which will help to better engage the muscles of the foot.
N.B. : The Mutekis are my favorite shoes, I don't own any other pair that matches their comfort.
Based in the UK, Freet offers comfortable barefoot shoes that are particularly light, robust, and suited for practicing outdoor activities.
While Freet's shoes are made in China, the company is making sure to reduce its environmental footprint by using sustainable materials to produce them. For instance, the models Tanga and Pace are made of recycled coffee ground.
Realfoot is a Czech startup company, offering minimalist shoes featuring an extra-wide toe-box. It's one of the few brands that designs fan-shaped shoes that have an 11+ cm wide toe-box. If your toes never have enough room, even in barefoot shoes, then Realfoot shoes are a great choice to give them more freedom of movement.
These shoes, made in Czechia, are unisex and feature a 3 to 4 mm sole, depending on the model.
The flexibility and comfort provided by Skinners's sock shoes offer a stellar barefoot experience.
Made in Czechia from European materials (sourced in Sweden and Italy), these slippers have a very flexible, resistant and grippy sole that is only 3 mm thick. Plus, they are machine-washable.
Since walking in Skinners' sock shoes does give the impression to only wear socks, you can feel all the ground's asperities. They are therefore an excellent choice for those who are used to walking barefoot but are looking for a bit of extra-padding when headed outside.
Made in Portland (Oregon), Softstar's shoes (the « Primal » range in particular) have one of the widest toe-box available on the market. Its fan-shaped design respects the morphology of the foot and offers great freedom of movement.
For those who like having a single pair of shoes to practice different activities, Softstar shoes will be ideal allies since they are designed to be multifunctional; from the city pavement to the forest path, they adapt both functionally and aesthetically to different uses.
Softstar makes sure to use leather from sustainable sources to manufacture its shoes. To my knowledge, it is the only brand that offers the possibility to directly customize shoes when ordering (leather's color, lacing, and type of sole).
In addition to being particularly elegant, minimalist shoes from Télito are vegan and made from recycled and/or sustainably produced materials. The French brand sources its materials in Spain and manufactures its shoes in Portugal.
Télito is committed to recycle its customers' used shoes in order to produce new soles. Since the thickness of the sole is 7 mm (thicker than most minimalist shoes), Télito's shoes are particularly adapted for people who wish to transition to barefoot shoes.
A leader on the minimalists' shoes market, Vibram is known for designing glove-like shoes, aka « five fingers ».
Following the same principle as the Japanese « tabi » shoes, the separated toes help to use the entire surface of the foot, thus giving a better barefoot feeling.
Vibram promotes an ethical and ecological business approach by providing a shoe repair workshop and by developing natural and recyclable materials. The brand is invested in the research and development of new technologies for the design of its soles, which combine flexibility and durability.
Vivovarefoot is a great choice for people who want to invest in minimalist shoes made from ecological and innovative materials.
Often worn by influencers on social media, their modern aesthetic will please those who are looking for both technical and casual shoes.
Also committed to reducing waste and preserving the environment, Vivobarefoot has launched a second-hand platform, ReVivo, which allows you to buy reconditioned models at a lower price.
The German brand Wildling sells stunning shoes with a unique design that can step on almost any type of terrain.
The sole of Wildling shoes is one of the thinnest on the market and varies, depending on the model, from 1.5 mm to 3.5 mm. The shoes offer a wider angle for the big toe, allowing it to move better laterally.
Made in Portugal from organic and European materials such as cotton, hemp, linen, wool and cork, Wildling shoes will satisfy those who are looking for shoes that blend comfort, durability and aesthetics, while also supporting a company that defends environmental and social values.
Another leader in the minimalist shoe market, Xero Shoes offers a wide selection of sneakers, boots and sandals. Sibce the company often have discounts on its products, it is therefore a brand to keep in mind for people who are looking for quality minimalist shoes at an affordable price.
Xero Shoes also offers a 5000 mile (8000 kilometer) warranty on their soles. Their warehouse (for European site) ships from Czechia.