A really early '2nd skin' experiment


I'm pretty certain I wasn't the first or the only barefoot running enthusiast to take a pair of socks (or pair of shoes) and MacGyver a minimal 2nd skin.

It was the summer of 2003 and I was still getting used to the heat of Ft. Myers, Florida. Without question a mecca for year-round running. There was only one problem. The long summer made unshod running on the skillet hot pavement too much too handle. My running was limited to a frustrating 20 minutes.   So...

I took a pair of basic low-cut cotton socks and painted several coats of liquid latex rubber on the sole, toes and heel.  (I wish I had a pic).  Imagine an ultra thin poor man's version of the FiveFingers. But alas, FiveFingers were yet to make their way to Robert Fliri's sketchbook. I named my new invention 'Flexsocks' and began running in them around my community.  They lasted no more than about 30 miles before they started to fall apart. But for only $4 it didn't really matter.

It become apparent very quickly that these rubber socks of mine would not revolutionize running. So I put my idea on the back burner for a couple of years.

27 thoughts on “A really early '2nd skin' experiment”


  • By Tim Foreman

    I literally thought of this a week ago when I was trying to run down my icy street...that feeling of termites eating my feet didn't take long and I thought if I just had some latex to dip my feet in. I am now more confident in ever that your shoes will be for me. I look forward to more sketches.

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  • By Andrew

    You should go onto this Google group and keep people update about your status and and answer questions. There are about 2000 people in the group that are very interested in minimalist shoes.

  • Hi!
    Here in Sweden we have something called "sockiplast", socks-in-plastic. It works! I run in sockiplast, it feels great.
    A B

  • By Ken Ng

    Aloha! Have you checked out Sockwa (originally for beach volleyball)! Minimal is happening! Still, feet are lovin' LA this Spring! Feets don't fail me now!

  • By Oscar Chu

    I actually tried adhering felt onto a pair of Injinji toe socks (after I put them on). Unfortunately, it rained the first day I tested them and realized they don't do well when wet. Twigs also tend to get stuck in them too. The felt also made the soles very hot. Still, on a dry day, they are much more comfortable than even VFFs! Please shape these shoes to fit bare feet like a pair of socks! That's the key! No pointy-toed, high heeled, too-much-arch support, motionless-control junk! And please remember the wide footed and flat footed people like myself! Many of us go barefoot because we can't find wide or flat-footed shoes!

  • Hey, pretty exciting, I’m looking forward to checking the new Skora shoes. I would love to add my name to the list of testers. Thanks. Wilhelm.

  • @Karen : we're certainly considering the needs of female runners; and we're certainly not looking at the traditional male or female colors either. Thanks for your note.

    @Ken Ng : Thanks for the kind words. Yes, barefoot running is best. Period.

    @Andrew : Working at a 2010 launch - seeking funding to ensure production. Not easy or cheap to launch a new footwear line, especially when you're redefining the industry. Follow us on twitter @skoraRunning for our updates.

  • By Andrew

    So what is the status of the shoe? Is it on track to start selling them this coming summer?

  • By Ken Ng

    Aloha! Happy 2010! Can't wait (though I have to) for the minimal shoe you're working on. Right now I'm alternating between barefeet and Invisible Shoe huaraches (LA weather is great). The prototype looks cool. Baby, we were born to run!

  • By BethL

    I ran across your site while looking for some shoes to wear while running on a treadmill. I's love to be a potential tester for your women's shoes.

  • By Karen

    Hi! I've been wearing and loving Vibram FiveFingers (for hiking only!) and Vivo Barefoot shoes for the past couple of years, and was excited to learn about the pending birth of Skora. My only criticism of the other two brands is that I was unable to get a perfect fit, since I wear a Women's size 11, and hadn't been able to fit comfortably into the largest women's sizes in Vibram or Vivo (though it looks like Vivo is starting to remedy this by offering larger women's sizes). Also, I think my feet are starting to spread out and maybe lengthen a little more since I've been going virtually barefoot in these shoes.

    Anyway, I've been making do with the men's styles in both brands, even though the fits are a little too loose overall; I'd rather have them be too loose than too tight! I'm not a girly-girl (I DO NOT require bright or pastel colors, and DO prefer neutral or earth tones), but I WOULD like my shoes to look and/or be a little less "mannish" in their shape!

    So.... One request I would like to make (while Skora is still in the fetal stage) is that you take into consideration that there are a lot of female athletes out there who have feet that are large (in length), but not as wide in the heel and toe-box as men's feet of the same length. I have struggled my whole life to get shoes that fit well without making me look like I'm wearing my brother's hand-me-downs! I guess what I'm looking for is a "unisex" look, but with a "custom" fit.

    By the way, I too daydreamed about custom-making my own minimalist shoes by dipping some socks (I was thinking toe-socks) into liquid rubber (like they use to make those nifty gardening gloves). A snug but flexible fit is what I've been looking for. Maybe Skora will be the answer?

    I'm looking forward to checking out the Skora line when it is born, and would love to add my name to the list of potential "testers!" : )

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  • @Sean : I too prefer trail running whenever possible. Those of us with wide feet are actually better off. Feet become wider from barefoot running which proves that our body (feet) require a larger surface area to maneuver our surroundings. We're still working out the details but yes, wider feet will be more comfortable in Skora.

    @Adam : Thanks for following us! I hope not to disappoint with Skora's first line.

  • By Adam

    I've been paying attention to your project for a couple of months now. Very intrigued. Do you have any plans for casual shoes? I think that is an important part of our lives (standing and walking) and I would love it if all of my shoes were minimal.

    I've been wearing Merrell Mootopias without the insole, but they were discontinued a few years ago. If I could get dressier shoes in differing styles that had minimal soles and roomy toeboxes (I am also a 4E like the previous poster) then I'd be a customer for life!

    Stoked for your runners, too. I go barefoot whenever I can, but run trails where I simply can't. KSOs are good for me, but I think they can be improved upon.

    I'd also be a happy tester ;)

  • By Sean

    I'm intrigued. I have bunions, making my feet quite wide (4E), with mildly low arches. I run trails exclusively, mostly because I find it more fun, but also because the softer surface is easier on my feet. I run about 25-30 miles a week, with lots of elevation.

    At this point I use Brooks Beast shoes exclusively, which, as the burliest "motion control" shoes available, are pretty much the complete opposite of barefoot/minimalist running. I've run in others, but these are the only ones that let me run pain free. I've never tried barefoot/minimalist, 'cause I can't run barefoot on our rocky trails, and I can't find any minimalist shoes in a men's 9/4E size.

    My trail running gait is probably quite a bit different than an average road runner, and I try to minimize the heel striking as much as I can. I imagine a minimalist stride will be similar, so it might be a fairly easy to adjust.

    Anyway, if you end up making these shoes in a size that fit me, I'd love to give them a try. E-mail me at the address I submitted this with if/when they become available, and I'll buy a pair to try.

  • By Phocion Timon

    Addendum to my comment...

    If you are looking for overweight testers, I volunteer. I am tough as hell on running shoes due to my size and I might be a good candidate for your data collection.

  • By Phocion Timon

    LOL, I tried the same thing. I used thick socks, wrapped duct tape around them and used Shoe Goo to cement a thin rubber sole to them. Feh. Worked for two runs.

    Man, I can hardly wait for your shoes to come out. I am currently running in some $13 sneakers from Walmart -- thin soles from toe to heel and a fairly wide toe box. It is this wide toe box factor that makes me exited about your shoes. I suffer from gout and although I can run, any constriction of my forefoot makes things painful after a while.

    Apply a whip to your R&D team and git 'er done.


  • @ Martin from UK : Thank you for the kind words! I'll put your name down on our ever growing list for testers - assume the email you entered when writing your post is valid.

    And don't worry, won't forget about the UK! :)

  • By Martin from Brighton, UK

    I was about to resort to something like this when I came across your project. I know you've got a lot on your plate but please don't forget us here in the UK and Europe!

    I've been running POSE and minimal for three years now and it's tricky getting hold of the right shoes in the UK.

    Loved the sketch in your newsletter and really excited about seeing and getting hold of the real thing. You'll probably be swamped with volunteers for testing but I'd be up for that.

    Good luck. =D

  • @ david from chicago : Thanks for this sharing this great video! Guess what's old is new again :) Happy barefoot trails.

  • By david from chicago

    hey, check this out.

    percy cerutty training his champions barefoot back in the 1950's.


  • Cool! Neat to see some of the early thinking and experimenting that were the genesis for Skora.

  • By Kate

    My club cross country coach a few years back did something similar except with duct tape. I don't know how long they would last for him. I thought he was absolutely crazy at the time. (well, he is a bit crazy - he has his PhD in physics afterall!) But now I agree with him on the barefoot running stuff.

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