Well, I managed to go about 3 weeks at my workplace before management started to take notice of my new “shoes,” and so far the response has been less than stellar, though I have yet to be told to remove them.  I have scoured over dress code policies up, down, and sideways, and haven’t found anything in there that could even possibly be detrimental to my wearing of VFF’s at work, and so far, the responses I’ve gotten from my customers, though sometimes a little embarrassed to ask, have been very positive and encouraging.  In fact, business seems to have picked up since I starting wearing them, and I’ve even gotten a few customers and other employees coming in at the recommendation of others to see my feet and ask me about why I’m essentially barefoot!  I’ll take increased traffic any day of the week, no matter what the reason!

There were a few things that I did find out reading the dress code policies, however, that made me change a little of my attire.  First off, and probably most importantly, the dress code does specifically state that “socks or hose must be worn at all times.”  Ok, I can do that.  How do you wear socks with five-fingered shoes?  Five toed socks, of course!  My favorites so far (in all fairness, the only ones I’ve tried so far) are the Injinji performance tetrasocks.  Not cheap, about $12 a PAIR, but thin and comfortable, so I can make due with them.  Injinji also has a bamboo “liner” type of sock that I’d like to try, but I can’t seem to find it in stores, so I’ll have to order from their website.

My other concern, or rather a concern that might be brought up, is the super thin mesh-like material that covers the top of the KSO’s I now wear exclusively.  The first comment I always get from management is “what happens if a forklift drives over your toes?”  to which I answer “let me drive one over yours first and we’ll see how your shoes hold up!”  🙂  Seriously, people, unless you’re wearing steel toed industrial boots, a pair of sneakers is going to offer zero protection against something like that!  And even then, the steel toed boots would still most likely result in loss of toes if a freakin’ forklift drives over them!  Anyhow, off the soapbox, I decided that maybe to shirk the issue, I’d look into getting a pair of KSO treks, which are the same type of design as the KSO (full foot coverage), but are made from leather uppers rather than the thin breathable mesh.  At a cost of $125 shipped, not the cheapest shoes I’ve ever bought, but also not the most expensive.  I managed to find probably the only pair of Treks left in the U.S. in a size 40 for sale on sandalshed.com, and ordered them promptly.  Customer service was great and they had fast, free shipping available for my order.  I was so sure that it was an error on the website that they actually had the 40’s in stock that I called to confirm after I placed the order, and the woman I spoke to was very helpful and friendly, and even packed my order up early since I was so eager to get them!

These pictures really don't do the supple leather justice...

Today, after only about a week’s wait, they have arrived.  The pictures on the websites made them seem like much thicker, more shiny leather, but the pair I received has the most luxurious, soft, suede-like leather I’ve ever felt in my life!  Made from kangaroo (yes, really), it is incredible, and from the little booklet that accompanied them, also very water friendly, both in getting wet and getting dry again.  The Treks have a very different sole to them, still thin enough to be flexible in all the right areas (and thinner than some of the other models on the “hinge” points of the sole), but thicker throughout and have these unique rubber “cleats” on the bottom that give the most traction possible in this kind of shoe.

I took them out for a spin for the first time almost immediately after returning home from work (where they were waiting for me), and while they feel a little different than my KSO’s, they are super comfy!  The inner sole lining is a smooth leather, which from what I’ve read does a great job combating the odor that builds up on the regular soles (more about this in another post), and with my Injinji’s on, they are the perfect fit.  The other thing I like about them is the lack of the very obvious Vibram logo on the left big toe.  This was a dead giveaway on my KSO’s, and actually was the part of the shoe one of the managers that saw them at work had the biggest complaint about!  So for there to be no logo, I think the Treks are some very classy looking shoes – at least in the way of five toed barefoot-like shoes.

They’ll be making their maiden voyage with me to work tomorrow, so we’ll see how the responses go, but I’m excited about it.  I don’t know what kind of battles are in store for me and my feet at work, but now I feel like there really isn’t ANY possible way they can squash my choice of footwear, at least without being completely discriminatory for cosmetic reasons, which I think I could fight.

In the meantime, my feet are the most comfortable they’ve been probably in years, I haven’t had even a twinge of knee pain, I managed to run almost 2 miles on the treadmill tonight, and when I’m out and about, I just feel energized and connected with my surroundings so much more than when I was shod.  That, to me, is worth the price and worth the fight if it comes down to it.

And call me crazy (everyone else does!), but I really find them attractive.  🙂

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