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


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+fashion / apparel
+fitness / sport
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