To that end, I've been wearing brown Vivobarefoot Oaks since about Christmas (the review on these is coming soon.) Having only a pair of brown shoes (slightly oddly styled) that I could wear was OK but I basically cut out half of my work clothes because they didn't go with brown shoes.
Enter the VIVOBAREFOOT - Ra which, thanks to a coupon code, arrived at my house a few weeks ago. As with all Terraplana product, they arrive is a nice reusable shoe box and each shoe is individually wrapped in a reusable shoebag.
Since it appears that every blogger needs some type of schtick, I've somewhat uncreatively come up with my 6Fs. Flat, Fit, FLex, Flair, fPrice, Finale. There is no F synonym for price so I have taken the liberty of adding a silent F.
As with all Vivobarefoot shoes, Ra are zero drop. This means there there is no rise to the heel at all for my non-barefoot crazed readers. All of my regular wear shoes are zero-drop so far. I know a 10mm drop is too much for me but I'm not sure how much drop I can tolerate.
With an advertised 3mm sole, these shoes are really flexible. The upper is entirely leather so it did take a day or two to soften them up. The shoes come with a removable insole that adds a few millimeters of padding but I immediately removed it and have not used it. It's the same insole as the Oak and with my experience it will add a bit of squish if that's what you are looking for.
As I expected, these shoes fit great. In my casual shoes, I prefer a looser fit so these are right up my alley. They are extremely light for those who are used to normal shoes. As I mentioned above, the uppers are all leather so they took a day or two to break in and soften up. I initially noticed a bit of pressure/rubbing from the top of the tongue but this went away after the tongue softened up in a day. I also saw a warning on the Ra web page about the high cut and wearing socks during break-in. I do not intend to go sockless with these so this was not an issue and I don't think it is an issue now that they are broken in. The leather uppers also make the shoe a bit warm but since I mostly wear these in the air conditioned office, it's no worse than any other dress shoe. I ordered a size 45 after consulting with the helpful staff at the NYC store and they fit as I expected. My VFFs and Oaks are also 45 and my Trail Gloves are size 12.
The style is basically a plain black oxford shoe.
They are normal looking which in the universe of "quirky looking" minimalist shoes is a godsend in my attempt to integrate zero-drop into a conservative office environment.
List price is $150USD which is a bit steep for me but I waited for a 30% off coupon before ordering. Yes, I paid my own hard earned money for these shoes as I have not earned enough status YET as a blogger to get free stuff. I'm hoping to change this soon so if you want to send evaluation product my way, please drop me a line. ;-)
In the very limited world of minimal business footwear, the Vivobarefoot Ra hit the mark. They are light-weight, comfortable, flexible, and have great ground feel. I would recommend these to anyone out there who is looking for a minimal business shoe. You might even get away with these in a suit.
A note on Terraplana/Vivobarefoot: Their shoes are a bit pricey but I find they are durable and very comfortable and worth the expense to keep my feet happy at work. Also, their staff are very responsive and happy to answer your questions. I hope they will expand their retail presence into New England soon.
I will definitely be trying other shoes from Vivobarefoot though I need to slow down on my shoe purchases for the sake of my marriage.