I've been on the hunt for the "perfect" minimalist sandal for years. For me that means a couple of things:
- Durable and comfortable for walking very long distances and biking
- Reasonably attractive and appropriate for a wide variety of situations
- Flexible and zero-drop
- Not going to fall apart if I randomly get rained no
It's kind of shocking how difficult this is to find. The closest I've had are the Croc "Sexi flip" and Tread Lite Maori Sandals. But I wanted something that looked a little more formal. So I made it myself.
Luckily there is a shoe making school (The Chicago School of Shoemaking) in Chicago and so I had a lot of help and equiment available at the Sandal Making I class. You could use whatever design you wanted as long as it used straight straps and so I chose a gladiator-style sandal. You could also chose the soling and I chose a thin flexible Vibram sole.
The final result was exactly what I was looking for. And it was made with quality leather than should be able to withstand the elements.
One awesome thing is that when we drafted out our designs and traced our feet, we did two lines. The outer line was the outer boundaries of our feet. The inner was where our feet touched the paper when standing. As you can see there was a lot of variation. My draft is in the middle and since I have higher than normal arches my two lines are pretty far apart. Then I was able to put the inner straps so they matched that.
With the election coming up here in the US, there has been a lot of talk about trade. Trade has given us Americans to so many different types of cheap shoes. But I'm not sure it's been worth it. This year I've only bought made in the US shoes. I had a couple of my older shoes fall apart and I replaced them with more expensive and better-made shoes. My old Cuche snowboots I replaced with Steger Mukluks and my Sperry Ballet flats I replaced with Soft Star Ballet flats. There is so much of a different in quality that it makes me think that while trade has given us variety, it's really made it harder to access quality. We can blame deals all day, but ultimately, we as consumers have chosen that we'd rather have fifty cheap shoes (or in the case of expesnive designer shoes, shoes made for fashion rather than function) than a few great pairs made by artisans. But maybe as more of us care about the health of our feet and our ability to actually walk places, we can start a trend against this.