Merrell reports barefoot progress

Footwear brand continues growth after ‘phenomenal’ success

Footwear brand Merrell said it has seen strong growth in its barefoot collection, and will continue to develop its range to meet the needs of the market.

Speaking at OutDoor last month, marketing manager Jonathan Pennington said it is set to ship one million pairs of barefoot shoes into the US in its first full season; a ‘phenomenal success’ for the spiritual home of barefoot running.

To support this success, Pennington said Merrell has grown its barefoot range to suit the widening market for the shoes, including the Bare Access range, which offers zero heel-to-toe drop but with greater cushioning.

“This acts as a progression from cushioned shoes that people are used to into true barefoot running,” he said. “Some people are scared of going truly barefoot so want a level of cushioning, coupled with the zero heel-to-toe drop that is the hallmark of barefoot running.”

Merrell has also developed a shoe using Gore-Tex, a first in the barefoot running market according to Pennington, and children’s barefoot shoes, which he described as a ‘natural progression’. “Children love to take their shoes off and run barefoot, so they are an obvious market to target when it comes to barefoot shoes.”

In addition, Merrell is launching a new trail running shoe, the Mix Master, which Pennington said acts as a bridge for retailers and consumers to understand how Merrell can offer both barefoot running and more supportive hiking shoes.

It is described as ‘faster, lighter’ and has a 4mm heel-to-toe drop, a forefoot shock absorption pad, sticky rubber outsole and a Merrell Float midsole. It can be used across a number sporting disciplines, although is primarily intended for trail running.

For more news from OutDoor, see the August issue of SGB Outdoor