Are Minimalist Shoes the Same as Barefoot Shoes?

In short, NO.

“Minimalist” was a term that big shoe companies came up with in mid-2010 to describe the shoes they created to capitalize on the sudden interest in running barefoot.

While “barefoot shoes” are minimalist, not all minimal shoes are barefoot.

Harvard’s Dr. Irene Davis defines minimalist/barefoot shoes as:

  • No unnecessary cushioning
  • No unnecessary “support”
  • Wide enough for natural movement
  • Flexible enough for natural movement

She calls shoes that do some of the above “partial-minimalist.”

Frankly, we call them “fake minimalist” because they claim to be the same as true minimalist footwear, but they’re not.