A contributor (thanks Nick!) to the Running Shoes community on Google+ shared a link today to an article on Wired that discusses former Vibram USA CEO Tony Post’s latest project. Post resigned his position with Vibram this past summer, and at the time there was some speculation as to the reason why he decided to step down. My guess was that after leading the company during the toe-shoe boom, he was well aware that sales of the shoes were starting to cool and he jumped ship.
Another possible reason why Post left Vibram is that the company is in a bit of a sticky position since they make soles for other brands (e.g., New Balance, Merrell), and for that business to continue they can’t also be a direct competitor to those brands in the footwear market. As a result, they are somewhat boxed into making toe shoes since making more traditional shoes without individual toe pockets would put them in that competitive zone and risk their sole business. If he wanted to innovate, which it seems Post was keen to do, staying with Vibram would have really limited his options.
The Wired article indicates that Post has indeed been up to something since leaving Vibram, though details are scant at this point. What we do know is that he’s started a new company called Topo Athletic and has $5 million in venture capital backing him. As for what products Topo will be releasing, initial offerings will be revealed at the Outdoor Retailer Show in January. Wired also quotes Post as saying “This is not another toe shoe…This is completely different.”
Here is what Wired has to say about the new shoes:
Post’s hook for his new line of shoes is something he calls “innate amplification” — a mysterious concept that enhances your natural body movements. “Innate amplification takes the body’s own natural biomechanics and tries to amplify and support them,” says Post. “We don’t try to correct or change the way you run or train, but we try to work with what nature gave you.”
Wired also reports that:
ToPo Athletic is going after the geeky, early-adopter fitness consumer – some of the same people who jumped on the FiveFingers bandwagon. “Our narrowest consumer focus is really the early adopter, someone who isn’t scared to take a risk,” says ToPo marketing director Georgia Shaw.
Sounds like the target audience includes myself and a lot of the readers of this blog
It’ll be interesting to see what Post has come up with – after all, a guy that can create immense demand for toe shoes is worth keeping an eye on!