Split-Toe Athletic Shoe Corrects The Way Runners Train

Split-Toe Athletic Shoe Corrects The Way Runners Train

The Topo line features a two-portioned toe box that allows the big toe to create an anchor point in the foot.

Libby Garrett
  • 21 january 2013

The Boston-based athletic shoe startup, Topo Athletic, has launched a split-toe shoe line aimed to grab a share of the swelling lightweight, minimalist shoe market.

Inspired by the traditional Japanese designs of split-toe tabi socks and jika-tabi boots, the Topo line features a two-portioned toe box that allows the big toe to create an anchor point in the foot while the remaining toes can spread naturally.

Tabi socks, jika-tabi boots and the Topo Athletic design.

Tabi socks, jika-tabi boots and the Topo Athletic design.

Contrary to conventional athletic shoes that aim to correct the way people run and train, ToPo’s designers

believe an athlete’s shoes should do nothing for them.  Instead, they should do everything with them. This is why our approach to design is something we call innate amplification.  We are in awe of the genius of human biomechanics, and to that we respectfully bring our modern constructions, fabrics and designs that optimize these amazing natural abilities.

Designed to enhance balance and stability while running and strength training, the shoes are made with lightweight materials, welded seams that reducing chafing and a zero-drop heel-to-toe platform.

Launched by Tony Post, the ex-Vibram CEO who helped bring the FiveFinger shoe to market, the Topo line echoes the ethos of minimalist and lightweight athletic shoes, while offering an alternative design, arguably, will incite less hesitancy amongst consumers.

The Topo Athletic Collection

The line has a total of six styles, three each for men and women: the RR, a lightweight racing shoe, the RX, designed for strength training (including CrossFit), and the RT, an everyday training shoe.  Of particular design interest is the RR model.  Replacing traditional laces with thin steel fibers encased in a nylon coating, the RR is cinched tight by turning a dial on the outer side of the upper shoe.

The Topo Athletic RR

The Topo Athletic RR

Athletic brands have attempted to introduce tabi-inspired shoes in decades past.  In 1996, for example, Nike launched the now defuct Air Rift.  More recently, the split-toe Born2Run shoe was introduced late last year, inspired by the seminal barefoot running title, Born To Run by Christopher McDougall.  Now that minimalist and lightweight shoes are starting to significantly drive the athletic shoes market, Topo’s timing to offer a new take on thin, supple, high tech training shoes may well be just right.

Nike Air Rift (1996), Born2Run (2012)

Nike Air Rift (1996), Born2Run (2012)

The brand will be debuting their inaugural line at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market trade show, held 23-26 January in Salt Lake City.  Priced $100 and up, the shoes are expected to hit the market by early summer.

Ex-Vibram CEO Unveils A Split-Toe Athletic Shoe 2

For more on the science fueling the growing interest in a biomechanics approach to athletic shoes, check out our recent article featuring the chainmail minimalist shoe by Gost PaleoBarefoot.

Topo Athletic



Brand Engagement At The Gates Of The World's Largest Open-Air Gallery

Asia Yesterday

Safe Drivers Rewarded In Japan With Free Coffee

Driving Barista is a new app that encourages Japanese motorists to put their phones down as they drive

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Michael Kors Has Designed Their Own Instant Camera

In a partnership with Fuji, the limited edition Instax Mini 70 comes in an exclusive metallic gold color


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Retail: Technology Primer

See All
Health Yesterday

Manage Your Emotional Health Through Your Phone

Pharmaceutical company Pfizer has created a new iOS app meant to help patients track mental progress and set goals

Food Yesterday

Delete Food Pics Off Of Instagram To Feed The Hungry

Land O'Lakes and Feeding America are donating meals for every picture of a meal taken off of the social platform

Related Expert

Sharon Chang

Social Innovation Matchmaker

Design & Architecture Yesterday

This Shape-Shifting Pod Could Be The Future Of The Cubicle

MIT and Google have designed a new form of work enclosure meant to offer privacy in open-office layouts

Advertising Yesterday

Billboard Spies On People As They Walk By

To promote the movie "Snowden," the advertisement broadcasts information on passersby without their knowledge

Fashion Yesterday

Anti-Pollution Scarf Helps Cyclists Ride Through Cities

An innovative system filters pollutants and its accompanying app monitors quality of the air


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed Yesterday

Energy Expert: How American Consumers Are Taking Control Of Their Power Use

Jennifer Tuohy, green tech expert at The Home Depot, discusses green home technologies and developments for renewable technologies in US homes

PSFK Labs Yesterday

New Mentorship Ecosystems Benefit All Levels Of An Organization

PSFK’s Future of Work report explores how technology is being leveraged to support cross-team communication

Automotive Yesterday

Volvo’s Self-Driving Trucks Will Soon Be Put To Work In An Underground Mine

The fully-automated vehicles are part of a development project to help improve safety for workers

Work Yesterday

Editorial Roundtable: How Will Companies Staff The Workplace Of The Future?

Managed By Q, Soma, Workbar, Primary, AltSchool and thinkPARALLAX examine the ways that a people-first workplace might disrupt the job hiring process

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Mischievous Drone Will Drop Paint-Filled Balloons On Targets Of Your Choosing

A German photography team developed the flying device to accurately deliver a payload wherever needed

Retail Yesterday

Snapchat Reveals A Striking Pair Of Video-Recording Sunglasses

Spectacles make memories from your perspective and transfer them to the app


Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders

Financial Services Yesterday

This Peer-To-Peer Insurance Company Is Powered By Bots

Lemonade is a new product designed to lighten the paperwork and provide instant, helpful service when needed

Design Yesterday

Concept Artists And Scientists Form Partnership To Visualize The Future

The collaboration hopes to liberate ideas and innovations trapped in notebooks

Automotive Yesterday

Uber Could Be Bringing Vertical Takeoff Transport To Your City

The ridesharing app is looking into the development of nimble aircraft for urban environments

No search results found.