As has happened a few times in my life, I started a business - Peluva Footwear - out of frustration. In this case, it was my frustration with footwear. Shoes – of any and all kinds – have never been truly functional and comfortable for me. Despite a long career in the health field, a keen interest in foot health, thousands of miles of running and my having sampled hundreds of “better for you” shoes, I have never found anything that met my criteria for good-looking, comfortable, functional shoes. They either looked great and cramped my feet or were comfortable and quasi-functional but looked goofy. As a former marathoner, my high-tech running shoes certainly absorbed some of the impact of those tens of thousands of miles of hard running, but ultimately all that did was bypass the important sensory input (feel for the ground) and divert those impact forces to cause knee and hip issues and create other injuries. I have never been able to wear normal dress shoes for any length of time without discomfort. My feet just get too cramped and uncomfortable. I once threw a brand new $200 pair of hiking boots away just three miles into a three-day Grand Canyon hike because they hurt my feet so badly. Even most of my wide toe box minimalist shoes still didn’t allow the kind of toe freedom and toe “splay “that I wanted and knew I needed. And, finally, those relatively comfortable 5-toed minimalist shoes that I could find online were either completely void of cushioning or just plain ugly and made me too self-conscious to want to wear them in public places.
I knew exactly what I wanted (and what I suspect millions of other people wanted), so I set about to create what I truly believe is the ultimate shoe. It has been a two year process so far and continues to evolve. But I have already solved the issues that had plagued me with footwear for decades. I have built my dream shoes: comfortable, functional and stylish. I wear them all the time now, and I can’t wait for you to try them.
“I have built my dream shoes: comfortable, functional and stylish. I can’t wait for you to try them.”
My number one objective was to develop the most comfortable shoes I could possibly wear. Through prototype after prototype, I quickly became my own most discerning and critical customer. These shoes had to be comfortable not just for a few minutes or hours, but for longer periods of standing, walking and sitting – generally all day. That meant literally building a shoe from the ground up, throwing away every notion built into modern athletic footwear. I noticed that even the most comfortable “cushioned” shoes would feel great initially, but then they would cause knee pains or back pains (often as a result of the excessive “comfortable” cushioning). My son and co-founder Kyle came up with the term “sustainable comfort.” What he implied with that term was that we build a shoe that was comfortable when worn for long periods of time, not just the first few minutes of trying it out walking the aisles of a shoe store.
Next, these had to be truly functional: Not just a wider toe box – lots of companies offer that - but they had to allow for individual articulation of the toes (individual toe movement up and down as well as side to side). This was another primary goal. We wanted to create what were effectively “gloves for the feet” with a thin layer of cushioning material and then strategically placed traction and wear points. Other companies have tried this, but usually in the name of performance. We wanted a shoe you could wear all day, for any occasion, that enveloped your toes the way driving gloves would envelope your fingers.
The shoes had to be thin enough to allow for the foot to flex significantly and to feel and to adjust to the changes in terrain underfoot. On the other hand, they also had to have enough shock absorption (yes, there’s a tiny bit of cushioning) so that one could walk for longer distances on very hard surfaces and not experience pressure under the metatarsal area that sometimes can feel like a “bone bruise” when you are on concrete.
They had to have little-to-no drop in elevation from heel to toe in order to allow the calf muscle its fullest possible natural range of motion when walking and standing. Doing so would possibly help take some of the strain off the Achilles tendon and/or plantar fascia, a problem that happens all too often with modern shoes that have lifted heels.
I wanted shoes with no artificial arch support built in. A primary reason for minimalist shoes is to allow the smaller muscles of the feet to work a bit while walking or standing. Most regular shoes provide so much arch lift that these smaller muscles don’t get activated and tend to atrophy over time. Yes, you could add orthotics if you wanted, but the idea over time was to get away from the artificial support.
Equally as important as functionality, my new shoes had to have style. Most of the other attempts at 5-toed shoes have been, shall we say, less than attractive. Like trying to put ballet slippers on 200 pound UFC fighters. And many of the regular wider toe box minimalist shoes, while often fairly good-looking and stylish, still don’t allow for the individual toe splay.
To be clear, I was always against the idea of using these shoes for “performance.” In fact, almost to the contrary, I wanted shoes that people could wear all day long, in any situation other than running or playing hard sports. The idea was to allow the toes to be comfortable and the small muscles of the feet to work easily through ranges of motion that simply included walking, standing, climbing stairs, working out in the gym, driving a car, maybe cycling, most of the things you normally do in a day. Then, when it was time to “perform” you would put your running shoes on and go run, or your basketball shoes or cleats and play. My friend Jim Van Dine coined the phrase “precovery” for this. It meant that with Peluvas you would slowly, gradually, easily and comfortably spread the toes out a little and build up the strength in the smaller muscles of your feet that may have been neglected for years or decades in your regular shoes. Your feet would thank you when it was time to hit the roads, the track or the pitch.
To complete the dream, I wanted a system of footwear that would accommodate any occasion in life – from just walking around in your house, to going to work, to driving your car, to standing around in an office or clerical setting. In fact, once you try these out and get a sense of what toe-freedom really feels like, we think you won’t want to wear regular shoes ever again.
The end result is Peluva - a shoe that I believe might just change the way the world walks. I hope you agree. Please have a look around our site and give them a try. M