The Skinny on the New "Skins" Shoes

Posted by: Reena Jana on July 12, 2007

I recently tried out a pair of the new Skins shoes, what promise to be chic and inventive products. They’ve gotten a lot of advance raves in design publications such as I.D. and Metropolis, as well as on green-lifestyle blogs such as Treehugger. They’re now available online, via Sportie L.A. and are scheduled to hit stores later this month. And don’t forget this slick viral marketing video:

I have to admit, I was really looking forward to seeing and wearing these shoes, which have a super cool concept: they consist of an ergonomic, sturdy inner support system that can be taken out of a leather or suede shell. The “bone,” or the plastic supports (which cost about $50) can be placed in a variety of buttery “skins” – the shells (which range from $125-300). Get it? The idea is to have one pair of the theoretically comfy inner structures that can be mixed and matched with various outer cases. So the amount of packaging, storage space, and shipping costs of the shoes can be cut down. That’s good, eco-friendly news for both the maker (Skins Footwear) and consumers alike – even if the “skins” are a bit on the pricey side.

But I also have to admit I was underwhelmed by the actual shoes. I showed them to some co-workers, who were underwhelmed, too. Was it because of all the pre-launch hype? After all, the company that created the Skins line has been smart to host a Web site with sexy photography and feature the shoes at hip museum exhibitions and design fairs, not to mention circulate the intriguing video on YouTube, well before their release.

So why were we underwhelmed? Although they were designed by a team that includes the hot designer Dror Benshetrit– known for his elegant, flat-folding furniture, and the latest designer to be signed by Culture & Commerce, a design agency whose clients include Philippe Starck and chef Wolfgang Puck — the Skins shoes seemed like, well, regular old shoes. The pair we tried, sneakerish flats in pink suede and white leather, were luxuriously soft, but no more collapsible than, say, those ubiquitous Tory Burch slipper-like shoes that trendy women have been sporting for the last couple of seasons. And the “bone” insert didn’t feel much different from an extremely stiff insole, although indeed sleekly and gorgeously designed. In fact, it seemed like the “skin” could be worn without it (like the slinky Tory Burch flats). Maybe we were expecting too much? I can’t help but wonder, could the marketing and early buzz around this start-up shoe company be so good as to eclipse the product itself?

Reader Comments

Dan

July 13, 2007 9:51 PM

I was very interested in reading your article regarding the new Skin concept for shoes. I like the idea of having one bone that fits my foot but then collecting skins for different occations. From your comment on underwhelmed, I am not sure what you were expecting from the bone and skin. I personally would like to know how comfortable the bone is and do the skins look like, well, a skin when worn and not a "shoe". You said the bone felt like a stiff insole but isn't that all it is? The skin was luxuriously soft but is that a positive or negative for you? You also said the shoes seemed like regular old shoes. Isn't that the point and a positive for the designer? For myself and all the other wondering followers, I was hoping you could expand on your experience with the shoe. Thank you for your initial comments on this product and I hope to hear much more.
Thanks again,
Dan

jacksin

July 14, 2007 3:32 AM

Thanks for the review. As far as I can tell, you're the first person to review this shoe, and that tells me that the shoes and the company are a little more real than yesterday.

I believe that the marketing seemed to have an effect on you and that's good. In the beginning, a small company like this could only hope to have an effect based on marketing. The product will eventually benefit from the exposure that brings.

Fashion sense and comfort are also very personal things. If you'll check out this link http://www.psfk.com/2007/01/skins_footwear.html#comment-766
there is someone else , in another formum, that put up a review of the item when he saw them at a Vegas show. For him they were "the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn…a bit pricey - but flexibility and comfort that they provide makes them worth every penny".

Thank you for your review. The fact that it has now show up proves in a way that the shoes may be finally launching for real and that the stores online are soon to receive shoes, and that's the best news of all!

mark graves

July 14, 2007 9:01 PM

Skins footwear has been saying that they were suppose to come out back in Jan.07',being that they did not and have since had two more delays because they were coming with a better product,I can't help but think the pair of "BONE" you got was a Jan. pair? The product is coming out in a couple more weeks and I guess the consumer will have to decide for themself and not base it just on one writeup. I am waiting and have been waiting for it to show up in stores,on a shelf at least to where we can do a hands on opinion of them.The product is a good idea and very surprised that anyone had thought of it before now.

Jacques

July 15, 2007 8:14 PM

I have tried them as well but I have to disagree with being "Underwhelmed". They are extremely comfortable and very collapsable. I tried 3 mens models and all three were very sleek, stylish and very collapsable....

Boiler Bob

July 16, 2007 12:39 PM

I got the opportunity to see these shoes at the MOCA Skin and Bones event. The shoes were amazing in terms of fashion. I like the concept and I'm glad they're taking their time to bring these shoes to market. I would rather see a tried and true version of this shoe. Check out the video fo the event:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=49q0vz-RV8E

Reena Jana

August 8, 2007 11:56 AM

I see from the discussion that the experience of wearing men's Skins shoes might be different from that of ours wearing the women's line. Perhaps there are more similar styles of soft, flexible, and collapsible (not to mention stylish) shoes available for women than there are for men on the market? Thanks for the dialogue.

Lana

August 10, 2007 4:49 PM

These look great!! If you follow new shoes with style, check this out!

http://www.ragingartists.com/artists-in-advertising/2007/08/all_is_revealed_as_slam_skins.html

Kristin

August 10, 2007 4:59 PM

I can't wait to get a pair of my own, did you see Skins at WSA? Check out what the SLAM guys did...those Yellow Skins need to be mine!
http://www.ragingartists.com/artists-in-advertising/2007/08/all_is_revealed_as_slam_skins.html

Sarah

December 17, 2007 5:06 AM

I have found an amazing shoe store FootLocker Here I purchase latest shoes and got great discounts and offers on coupons.

Tony Searight

November 26, 2008 5:00 PM

I own 6 pairs. 2 male shoes for myself, wife has 2, and daughters own a pair apiece- small women sizes 7-7.5. They are 11 and 12 years old and love the shoes and concept.

Tony Searight
www.tonysearight.zoomshare.com
Searight Investments,Education,& Entertainment For Youth And Families

R. Rugg

December 11, 2008 8:05 PM

I was introduced to this product by a friend. I was strickly looking at this product as an investment protential; however, I plan to drive to Shreveport, La. to purchase a couple of pair of these shoes for a "test" run. I am also making a large purchase of their stock, because this shoe will be the next NIKE. Just may take some time though.

Doug

May 3, 2009 9:51 AM

This idea has all the makings of a "rad fad" that will last one summer. Think hula hoops...but then they laughed at the frisbee, didn't they?

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What comes next? The Bloomberg Businessweek Innovation and Design blog chronicles new tools for creativity and collaboration, innovation case studies in both the corporate and social sectors, and the new ideas that have the power to change the way things have always been done.

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