VIVOBAREFOOT Miles Men’s Shoe: Review & Discussion

by Editor on February 13, 2012

In the summer of 2011, I experienced a somewhat awkward moment at my university. I had been enjoying running barefoot so much I decided to make it a lifestyle. Unfortunately, the university I work at is not, as I quickly found out, open to barefoot living, either on campus or in the classroom. I was given a warning by administration to “shod my feet” and “look more professional.” At the time, I only had a pair of bright orange Vibram Treksports and I didn’t imagine that the administration would see them as being exactly “professional” looking.

Luckily, I passed a VIVOBAREFOOT outlet just a few weeks later. There, I discovered, to my delight, various “casual” shoes for the barefooter. After all, besides work, there are some places where social manners dictate being shod.

VIVOBAREFOOT has an outstanding selection of various styles that are more “office friendly” than many other minimalist brands, from the retro-looking, organic canvas “Dylan,” to the more office casual “Ra.”

I decided on a pair of red/brown “Miles,” which, according to VIVOBAREFOOT, is a “smart casual shoe” and sports their patented “puncture and slip resistant” soles

Fit

The shoe itself is great and exactly what you would hope for in a casual barefooting shoe. It has a nice, wide toe box (contrary to one anonymous comment I have read about this particular shoe), a very thin sole measuring about 9mm and is incredibly light, weighing in at 258g/9.1oz (with insole).

Appearance

I proudly wore my pair of Miles around campus and was occasionally even complimented on them. In short, they did their job stylishly.

Construction

I can speak to the “slip resistant” nature of their soles. I had no problem slipping or falling about town, in the classroom or in my office.

And yet. In the beginning of December, just a few months after my purchase date, I noticed how quickly the soles of the shoes were wearing down and soon, at the ball of my left foot, there was a small hole that seemed to be apparently from the normal wear and tear of walking around campus. A small rain shower hit and I quickly found that the thin soles no longer protected against the wet ground. My foot was a sopping, water-filled mess.

For $140USD, I would expect a pair of shoes to last a bit longer.

 

Customer Support

I emailed VIVOBAREFOOT about the construction issue (socialmedia@vivobarefoot.com). They offered to replace my shoes and showed genuine interest in my experience. Francisca Amaral, the Supply Chain Director, wrote me this in her email:

In response to your original enquiry our aim is to design shoes that are not only good for you but good for the planet. If we are not achieving this (and in your case we have definitely not) then we are eager to find out why. It could be a specific, one-off fault, or a problem that is more widespread. It would help us if you could send us your shoes back for checking, this will help us assess what went wrong. After that, our next step would be to re-evaluate our approach and do something about it – this could mean changing the design, manufacture and/or materials.

So, though I had a problem with the overall lifespan of this particular pair of shoes, I would still strongly recommend VIVOBAREFOOT. The shoe comfort is great and the customer service outstanding. Let’s just hope that this particular experience is not representative of the whole.

~Lucas M Peters

Please leave your comments below. What has been your experience with VIVOBAREFOOT shoes?

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Dale February 14, 2012 at 10:39 pm

I now own 5 different pairs of Vivobarefoot shoes and they seem to have upped their game with regards to the lasting of the soles. I can highly recomend them as performance or leisure.

Tom February 15, 2012 at 5:59 pm

I hear ya. I am a US diplomat working in an embassy overseas, and I wear vivobarefoot Ra ( all black). When I go to meet with a Minister or important business contact, I slip on something more formal, but that is relatively rare. One issue I have is that they are a bit tight on the achilles, but they make up for them in other ways.

Rachelle February 21, 2012 at 10:16 pm

No question about it, Vivobarefoot really cares about its customers. We received this note from Lizzie at the company:

“I wanted to reach out and apologize about the hole in your shoes, and I hope Francisco was able to find out the problem! We are always trying to better the construction of our shoes, and one of the main goals is to make a sustainable that will hold up for a long time.

Also, I noticed that you said the Miles have a 9mm sole. We continually attempt to make our soles as thin as possible for the maximum barefoot feel, and the Miles are actually 5mm thick.

We do have shoes that are 9mm, as those are our thickest soles. Thank you for your time and I hope to hear back!”

Lizzie, I’m sure that everyone reading this will attest to the quality of your customer service, and thank you for the clarification! Keep up the good work.

Lucas February 28, 2012 at 8:09 pm

I JUST sent these back to Vivo and yes… their customer service is outstanding. Lizzie and everyone else at Vivo deserve a huge two thumbs up because they are really running a fantastic business and are making some great products.

Note: If I remember right, the sole was 5mm and the insole was 4mm (which is how 9mm ended up getting typed up there). These shoes really do have a great feel and I’m hoping to get a new pair to try soon!!!

Denis Pitcher December 14, 2012 at 6:54 pm

I own a few pairs of vivobarefoot shoes but am disappointed with how the soles have held up with my pair of black Ra’s.

I bought them in April 2011 and since getting them, have worn them daily to work. They’re super comfortable but after about a year I noted that any time it was a bit wet out the water on the sidewalk would seep through and my feet would get considerably wet.

Now, as of Dec 2012, they’ve developed a considerable number of small holes in each sole and one larger hole that I suspect will quickly cause the sole to shred.

I’m not unhappy with the shoes themselves, they’re the most comfortable I’ve had and have done wonders for my joints and back, just would have liked for them to have lasted longer.

Dave October 24, 2014 at 8:03 pm

I’ve owned two pairs of Vivobarefoot shoes over the past couple years. Oak brown and…I forgot what the first one was…but it was a suede shoe. Both have developed holes and are really worn down near the toe. My first pair, I emailed them asking how I could fix it. If they sold an adhesive or if they replaced soles, but they said to just send them back and they’d send me another pair for free. They didn’t sell that style anymore so the customer service rep just said to choose another pair. I chose the Oak brown (which were more expensive)…didn’t matter, free shoe. Awesome! But now, after about a year the Oaks are wearing down, and fast. It’s raining now and my socks are currently wet. I called about 7 times and left, probably ten emails without a reply this past summer (2014). After a couple months of trying to get in touch with them they finally answered the phone. The rep said he couldn’t help me. That they only guarantee their shoes for a month after purchase. BUMMER! A shoe should last more than a year. I don’t mind buying another pair at all but I’m nervous as to how long they’d last. It’s not worth it to spend $130 or so and have them only last a year.

I’m looking for alternatives. I’m also considering the handcut Portos because I think they’re guaranteed for life…or at least longer than a year.

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