I had to opportunity to wear a pair of the Vivobarefoot dress shoes known as the Lisbon during a lecture on running I gave at the American Podiatric Medical Association National Conference. The easiest and best way to describe them is – flat, no heel, flexible, and looks just like a typical men’s dress shoe. Buts it’s minimal! It even has a wide forefoot! Here’s my review in the standard format.
Shoe Name: Vivobarefoot
Model: Lisbon (Available in Black and Dark Brown)
Weight: 11 oz for a size 9.0
I know what your thinking- expensive. Well, here’s the deal. If you need to look the part and need a dress shoe, this is it. There is no “block” heel that will throw your biomechanics off by plantarflexing your ankle and increasing your lumbar lordosis- ie back pain. Did I mention it looks just like a men’s dress shoe? You can wear it with a suit.
Vivobarefoot Lisbon (Dark Brown) Men’s Lace up casual Shoes $280 at Zappos
Drop: zero (0mm) Very unique for a men’s dress shoe. This is crucial for those spending 8 hours a day or more in dress shoes as the elevated heel alters the gait and strike pattern significantly leading low back pain and plantar fasciitis.
Forefoot: As with all of Vivobarefoot shoes, these have a side forefoot or toe box to allow for adequate function of the toes. The trend a few years back was for the narrow pointed toes. Not onky does this cause irritation to the toes themselves, it interferes with gripping during landing and push of during the propulsion phase of gait.
Cushion: There is none. But remember these are not running shoes and cushion really is unnecessary unless it’s desired by the runner typically in distances of 10 miles or greater. Another debatable subject but definitely not needed in a dress shoe. The leather sole is described on the website to soften and adapt specifically to your foot allowing for a true barefoot experience. I have not worn my long enough to vouch for this, but they have softened since I’ve been wearing them.
Flexibility: Decent flexibility when compared to my standards for running shoes, and excellent when compared to dress shoes. Remember, men’s dress shoes by design are rigid platforms that typically lead to sore feet. As a general rule they are really only made for fashion in accordance to today’s society. The flexible nature of this shoe will allow for a more natural gait. Passes my roll up test- well sort of!
Overall: Finally a shoe that is minimal and can be worn with suits or dress apparel. The quality and craftsmanship of these shoes are outstanding. They’re described as being hand cut and the leather is hand finished and polished making it suitable for a formal occasion. My only concern is the price, but in fairness, a pair of Johnston & Murphy’s are priced in range from $250 – $375 (couldn’t be any worse for your feet!!! Rigid, narrow and a high heel!!). So at $325 you are getting what you are paying for. There really is no other shoe out there like these for formal occasion. Prior to this shoe, my formal shoe was a casual shoe or a dress shoe of which I physically cut off the heel. If you are suffering from foot pain and need to change your formal work shoes, this is it.
They’re available in both black and dark brown.