I've been selling running shoes for the past 20 years, buying running shoes for 15, and owned FootZone for 13 years. I've seen a few things come and go in this industry and always looked to cut the crap and get to what actually means something to my customers. But honestly, in that 10 years the running industry has followed a fairly consistent course. The objective has been to make better fitting shoes that offer cushion and support. Honestly, especially as I look back. there hasn't been much variety. Most of the shoes have been the same offset from heel to toe (10-12 mm) in either stability, neutral, or motion control categories.
When Born to Run and Vibram Fivefingers came along they introduced many to at least the concept of less is more when it comes to shoes. This got a lot of play in the media and it made sense to people so they started asking for new options. Meanwhile, runners, running stores and vendors started challenging what they've always thought and realized that this isn't just a fad. Minimalism works for many runners. The challenge has been defining what minimalism means to runners and what is sustainable and what isn't when it comes to shoes. I'm well aware that many will argue for purity when it comes to minimalism. I've also watched many ride that bandwagon only to end up back in what allows them to get out for their daily run (minimalism be damned). Seems the holy grail is footwear that borrows from lessons of minimalism but will allow people to log their miles without getting injured. Runners want smooth, simple shoes with a de-emphasized heel but most still want some cush.
So... Fivefingers made a huge splash and they make great product but it's not most runner's new pair of everyday runners. The Nike Free has been around for years and fits into this conversation (they almost bailed on the whole thing before the minimalist craze boosted it back into the limelight). The shoes are great and have been a valid option despite still being pretty high in the heel. New Balance nailed it with the Minimus Trail as a great piece of footwear that some folks can run in. However most still utilize them as a workout shoe or everyday footwear. I'd argue that Saucony has led the way for shoes that most runners can actually log daily miles in with the Kinvara and Mirage. These are both shoes with a 4mm offset from heel to toe, a de-emphasized heel, plenty of cushion and a very smooth ride. Saucony doesn't get enough credit for being the first to bring to market viable running product that realistically addresses the minimalist ideal for runners in an everyday running shoe.
Now comes the Brooks launch of the Pure Project. It's relevant because they have a shoe for every type of need (stability wise) all with a 4mm offset and enough underfoot for everyday running. It's also relevant because it's Brooks. They're the strongest brand in specialty running these days and they execute product incredibly well. The whole company oozes the running vibe that most runners relate to and they back it up with consistent product that works for real people.
We're anxious to see what it means and excited to be included in the launch. Please come and let us know what you think.