ZERO DROP "All the Shoes That Fit"


Brooks New ‘Minimalist’ Running Shoes Want You to “Float or Feel” and Not Believe in “Less is More”

Come this Fall, specialty running shoe stores will be selling a new line of Brooks footwear called the Pures. Deliberately eschewing the minimalist tag, these shoes still have a lot of minimalist features: lightweight; flexible soles, very little heel-to-toe drop. Citing extensive market research, Brooks claims that runners aren't looking for "less" in a shoe; they want more! But where that "more" ends up is not a thick, non-flexing tread or monster crash-heel-pad. The "more" seems to be linked to a consumer's preference for snazzy styling and high-tech design and features. To this end, Brooks has introduced a new marketing concept, "Float or Feel." In other words, runners either want maximum connection (proprioception) with the ground, or want to feel like they are running on a surface made from a giant bed of marshmallows. A Footwear Product Line Manager for Brooks Sports explained to the press the reasoning behind FOF:  “'Less is more' has become the design philosophy of many brands in the market right now that are chasing the minimal trend. The hard part about that for us is that we don’t feel that 'less is more' is a great consumer proposition. It is no doubt an uplifting life philosophy, but a product promise? Runners shouldn’t have to pay more for less technology. We want to build a better, biomechanically sound product in a lighter package that allows the runner to feel more with less”. Okay, this all sounds good, but as if runners don't have trouble enough differentiating between all the new barefoot and minimalist running shoes? And of course, you can always charge more for more. Semantics aside,  Zero Drop thought the whole idea behind a minimalist approach to footwear is to allow form follow function, not the other way around.  The U.K. running site, Ransacker has more on Brooks' PureProject. And Runblogger does an excellent job with its pre-launch analysis of the Pures. The photo here is of the Pure Connect-- the lightest and most flexible of all four models. The Pure Cadence, however, has a reinforced heel counter for runners "who need more support," and "internal wedge to prevent overpronation," according to the Brooks' spec sheet. In other words, Brooks has married the old ways (pronation is not how we should choose running shoes because it's flawed, imprecise, and practically meaningless) with the new naturalism.  But c'mon Brooks, you can't have it both ways! Choose sides!

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