Author Archives: SKORA

  • Behind the Design: An Interview with Designer Richard Kuchinsky You’ve been involved with SKORA since the very beginning. Can you tell me how the concept for SKORA first started?

    RK: I met with SKORA CEO and Founder David Sypniewski in late 2007. In 2002, David, a runner, had been sidelined from injuries sustained while wearing conventional running shoes and had started barefoot running as a part of his recovery plan. He had an idea for an extremely minimal running shoe and brand and had asked me and my consultancy, The Directive Collective, to help make his dream a reality. So, the design and concept for SKORA running shoes was already in place at the time?

    RK: Not quite. David’s original concept was a sock with a thin layer of rubber on the bottom. At the time, I was only somewhat familiar with the concept of minimal running shoes (I had a few pairs of the original Nike Frees and Prestos) and had never experienced barefoot running. David had to work hard to convince me of the potential. Initially we didn’t see eye to eye. He actually made me run around barefoot in the parking lot! Here I was, a footwear designer, with years of experience creating technical performance products to help stabilize the foot, increase cushioning, add support and more features to shoes, and he was asking me to do the opposite.

    We had quite an involved discussion and while I could see the potential of the concept, it took a lot of back and forth to find the right middle ground for SKORA. With my experience in the industry, I felt it was important that the products and brand needed to have the right set of features and performance to be successful. If too extreme and minimal, it would be only appeal to a very small market, and if too conventional, it would not fit the goals and philosophy David embraced. How did you find the right position for SKORA?

    RK: From the start, we worked very strategically, to outline the position, tone and vision of the brand. We wanted SKORA to be a brand unlike other athletic footwear brands in terms of design, DNA and personality.

    As the core concept was a return to a more natural style of running, we wanted to create a more natural personality. While most athletic brands are all about “faster, stronger, better,” and use a lot of technical and marketing jargon to sell product, we wanted to create a brand that was more rational, honest, straight-forward and personal. Both David and I wanted to give the consumer more decision-making credit than conventional brands typically do, and challenge the status quo of how athletic brands communicate to athletes. Quite simply, we wanted to cut out the BS. How did this affect the design of the products?

    RK: Right from the start, I knew that to reflect this new type of athletic brand personality, I had to create a new type of visual DNA for the brand. The brand was different, so the products should be too. From very early on, we started looking at non-footwear and non-athletic products for inspiration. Two initial key themes of inspiration were Natural Simplicity and Technical Formalism. I looked at everything from bent wood mid-century modern furniture to geodesic domes.

    Materials were also a big inspiration and driver for the design. It was decided very early on that we would explore the use of natural materials such as leather, which greatly influenced the design language. Designing a leather running shoe presents unique challenges and potential that is completely different than conventional mesh and synthetic shoes. How is the design of the shoes different than other shoes on the market?

    RK: As mentioned, from the very start, we followed a very rational, intelligent design philosophy. The result is a design language that is very straight-forward and more refined than most running footwear. Patterns, colors, lines and details are very graphic and almost mathematical. The moiré pattern that is used in several places on the shoe is a good example of this. This is in contrast to how most running shoes try to look like a speeding alien spaceship.

    This design language translated into every line on the shoe and every selection of material and color. The upper patterns are constructed with a lot of straight lines and radii. The outsole design is very much engineered around the metatarsal flexgrooves and position of the functional areas on the sole. The tread pattern is both graphic and functional. Material and color choices are minimal in variation and very cohesive.

    Functionally, features are only present when needed - not for the sake of adding marketing bullets. Every functional feature on the shoe is a real feature and is informed by a real benefit. This is outlined in our 10 Real Differences. Where does SKORA go from here?

    RK: You will just have to wait to find out! No, seriously, SKORA has some amazing products in the pipeline currently under design and development for future collections. Our strong design philosophy will both continue and evolve. One great thing about designing for SKORA is that the concept of challenging the status quo is a fundamental principle, not just something mentioned in a mission statement somewhere. Because SKORA is a new brand, with a 100% focus on making running shoes that encourage more natural performance, I have a large amount of freedom in design. I’ve worked for many brands and have never once been in such a position where design is so well respected and the ultimate goal is simple as making better running shoes, not selling more pairs, making shoes cheaper, or providing marketing with “features” to sell.

    SKORA really is designed for runners, by runners, and I’m proud to be on the SKORA team.

    Run Real.

    Richard Kuchinsky is the Principal and Directive Creator of The Directive Collective, a full-service strategic design consultancy. He has been in the footwear industry for more than 11 years and is involved in the branding, design, technical development and marketing of SKORA.

  • 500,000 steps and still going strong

    Shoe durability and longevity are reoccurring topics on forums and between runners when discussing shoe of choice. 300-500 miles is when most shoes are replaced. At this point in the life of a traditional shoe, EVA compression may become noticeable to the runner, affecting his or her running form. However, a shoe with a well built sole may have its upper fall apart far before the sole wears through.

    A good pair of shoes with plenty of miles on them fits like an old baseball glove. Perfectly fitted to how the body moves. A wear tester put 600 miles, or about 500,000 steps, in the shoe pictured above. There are also a few runners we know currently approaching 500 miles in theirs. We are really looking forward to seeing how far these athletes can take the shoes!

    There are three important factors that determine shoe life.

    Terrain. Road running will wear out the sole of a shoe faster, as the road has zero give and creates more friction against the shoe. The gravel, dirt and grass of a trail will give a bit, wearing less on the sole.

    Running form. The runner’s gait also plays a role in determining when a shoe needs to be replaced. In a heel-striking gait, where the shoe makes contact in front of the runner’s center of gravity with a heel-first foot placement, a shoe will typically wear more rapidly since there is simply more movement. In contrast, an all-foot (midfoot/forefoot) running form encourages a flat and strong landing under the runner’s center of mass, resulting in less motion of the shoe on the ground as well as more evenly-distributed impact forces.

    Materials. Finally, the material of the shoe’s sole plays a key part. The R01 sole SKORA developed is comprised of a high density, high abrasion rubber outsole and an ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA) midsole, both more dense than the industry standard. This increases both the durability of the shoe and ground feel, thanks to “just enough” cushioning material between your feet and the ground. The wear pattern is more spread out as well, compared to a more pinpointed wear pattern from a less dense and thicker material. Also, the outsole on our R01 platform has smaller ‘lugs’ than those on traditional running shoes, which also reduces premature wear.


    Through superior materials and workmanship, SKORA’s R01 platform should provide a runner with many hundreds of miles on and off road. A shoe sole should not be a hindrance to an athlete’s endurance, but a partner to help keep your feet safe while encouraging healthy and real running. Run Real.

  • BASE & FORM Reviewed

    We're thrilled with all of the great reviews on the BASE and FORM models over the past few weeks. In case you missed them, here are a few highlights:

    A shoe for the serious runner: Wired Magazine Find your natural form with SKORA (FORM Reviewed): (video) First Look - WOW! (FORM Reviewed): Gumption Gear SKORA Redefines Minimalist (BASE Reviewed): SKORA FORM review: FORM Takes on the World’s Finest (FORM reviewed): Average Guy Hits The Road BASE and FORM Reviewed: Running On The White Line

    More reviews to come!

    Run Real, SKORA

  • Video spotlight on

    We were invited to talk about our shoes at's booth at The Running Event, this past December. Great time meeting Mario Fraioli and his crew.

    We talk a little about what makes the FORM shoe so unique. Watch the video here.

  • The Running Event 2011

    SKORA TRE 2011 Booth

    The Running Event (TRE) earlier this month in Austin, TX was SKORA’s first trade show and brand launch. Pulling off an event like this is not exactly...relaxing. But, hard work has its rewards.

    For us, the greatest reward was finally being able to share our story, face-to-face, with shoes in hand. With so much buildup, excitement, speculation, you name it - the moment the booth was complete with lights on and shoes hanging - was the moment it all felt so Real.

    SKORA’s reception was fantastic. Everyone - from the retailers who had never heard of us, to those who have been following us faithfully, took great interest in what we are doing as a company.

    We set out to create the best running shoe, because as runners, we deserve the best. And more importantly, to help runners stay injury free, for life. When it comes to running shoes, we believe that performance can be beautiful.

    To those of you who have been following, encouraging, and believing in us, we cannot thank you enough. Thank you for spreading the SKORA love, helping us get the word out, and being the driving force of what we’re trying to achieve. We hope you stay along for the journey. Run Real.

    SKORA TRE 2011 SS12 Collection photo SKORA TRE Team
  • First Catalog Photoshoot

    Our first real photoshoot reaffirms SKORA’s (long-awaited) launch is nearing ever closer.

    Our day started early on a foggy Portland morning, the last weekend of October. With a crew of five: photographer, assistant, digital tech and two athletes. We took on the challenge of shooting in 5 locations throughout Portland, guerrilla-style...

    We were fortunate to work with an amazing sports photographer that gets what we're about, and real runners that happen to look great in front of the camera lens.

    The shoot was a great success, and we can’t wait to have the completed catalog early next year. We shared a few photos from the shoot on our Facebook page, see them here.

  • The Wait is Almost Over

    There have been loads of comments lately on our Facebook page like these:

    “I can't wait for these shoes!” “What's taking so long?” “We have to wait until February?” “Why do they cost so much?”

    We thought it might be time for a little introspection.

    As many of you know the SKORA journey started years ago when David was trying to find solutions to his chronic injuries, and discovered barefoot running. After finally being able to run pain-free, he started looking for performance shoes that would enable him to realize the benefits of barefoot running, while still offering some of the protection and comfort of shoes.

    We figured there must be other runners out there like us... We were faced with a lack of options that truly met the needs of runners. Three years ago we embarked to make our own.

    As we began designing our concepts, sourcing for suppliers and building early prototypes we realized how complex and resource heavy performance shoe manufacturing really is. No wonder you don’t see new running shoe brands springing up every year. But we pushed forward and knew we could make better running shoes, otherwise, why bother?

    Our basic design philosophy is to remove as much as we can from running shoes that gets in the way of a natural running gait. We wanted a zero drop shoe, that allows for great feedback with every step. One that is shaped, and performs, like your bare feet, and yet provides some protection from rough running surfaces or foul weather.

    We were committed to make our shoes out of premium materials. We never quite bought into the “rotate your shoes” or “you must replace your shoes every 300 miles” marketing hype. We believe that runners deserve the best. We’re not cutting any corners or sourcing cheap, second rate materials.

    It took time to find the right suppliers and factories that shared our vision. We expected such a high degree of detail and quality that quite frankly it wasn’t easy to find a partner that appreciated a return to building things better.

    After countless pullovers, adjustments and samples, we believe we have it right. SKORA shoes are fantastic and the feedback we are getting is overwhelmingly positive. But we're just getting started.

    Are our shoes the answer for everyone? No. But they’re the performance running shoes we wanted to make when we first started this long journey… and it was worth the wait. Run Real.

  • Testing in a Run Real World

    SKORA tester pairs In August we invited a group of runners to help us test the latest version of our Base and Form shoe models. (blatant plug: SKORA Shoes In Stores February 2012!)

    We really wanted to get some big miles on the shoes and hear from real runners about what we did right, and most importantly, what we did wrong when we designed our shoes.

    Runners filled out surveys that helped us determine which runners would be the best suited to give us fast, helpful feedback. It was very important for us to find runners that could put some miles on the shoes in a short period of time. With any minimalist shoes, ours included, there is a transition time to get the proper mid-foot/whole-foot stride and we wanted folks that were used to running barefoot or with minimalist shoes so they could ‘hit the ground running’ (sorry).

    There were questions around running style, types of shoes worn, miles per week, etc. Unfortunately, the most important questions was, “What shoe size do you wear?” as we only had men’s size 9 and 10 for the tester shoes…

    After selecting our testers they were sent either a pair of blue Base or black Form shoes. We set up surveys online for the testers to report their first impressions and more surveys to complete after they were racking up the miles. The SKORA shoe testers ended up being a great variety of real runners from all over the world and we were able to see how our shoes perform in a variety of climates and terrain types.

    We had great feedback all the way along and a big thanks goes out to all our testers as they generally confirmed what we knew all along: we have some kick-ass shoes.

    One tester in particular deserves a special mention. Kyle Kranz, from South Dakota, liked his tester pair of Base shoes so much he contacted us and asked if it would be alright if he used them in an upcoming race. Seemed fine to us, and then he mentioned it was a 100 mile ultra.

    We were a bit nervous as this was to be the first Ultra ever attempted in SKORA shoes and he’d be running in test samples too… Kyle seemed confident, so we said go for it.

    We’re pleased to report that both Kyle (and his shoes) survived the event and you can read his race report on his blog.

    The test program helped us confirm changes we had been planning to make for our final production shoes. It was great to hear the feedback that confirmed the direction we are heading with our shoe. Run Real.

  • First reactions

    Every year in early August thousands of active and outdoorsy types descend on Salt Lake City, Utah for the Outdoor Retailer Show. There are over 1000 booths filled with everything you could ever want for hiking, climbing, paddling, camping and just about every other sport you could ever imagine doing outside... and even some you can’t imagine people do anywhere.

    There is a great representation of shoe companies at OR, and while most of them are more traditional in their footwear selection, there is a rising tide of minimalist shoes. Kigo, Altra, Vivo, Luna, Vibram, Merrell all had booths and were very busy showing off their latest shoes. Even the larger, more well known brands are showing minimalist styles even if (in our view) most of them don’t quite get it yet.

    SKORA shoes won’t be available in stores until February 2012 so it was too early for us to have a booth. We did manage to give some folks a look at the samples we had brought along, and the reaction was even more positive than we could have hoped. The energy and support we received at the show was a great boost to keep us sprinting forward in launching our new company. Special thanks to Barefoot Ted (Luna Sandles), and the folks at Altra, Vivo and Kigo for being so welcoming and honest.

    Upon returning from the OR Show, we’ve been showing the shoes to select retailers in the Northwest and so far folks are really liking the shoes. It looks as if this long journey of creating SKORA shoes is going to take off like a rocket... We just hope we’ve ordered enough shoes for the Spring.

  • Does Barefoot Running Cause Injuries?


    [Image credit: ClintJCL]

    For all of the articles that pop up out there about barefoot running and it’s benefits, there are some naysayers out there. Recently, Matt Fitzgerald wrote about the topic on

    The article goes on to raise a pretty hefty case against the barefoot/natural running movement, asserting that we should look beyond just feet when considering the biomechanics of barefoot running, and include potential spinal issues and existing bio-structural problems.

    Despite the articles claims’ of a “surge” of barefoot running related injuries, it admits that “what is not known is whether barefoot runners are now disproportionately represented in physical therapy and sports medicine facilities—in other words, whether barefoot runners are more likely to develop overuse injuries than shod runners.” To that end, can any of the doctors and sports therapists interviewed truly claim that there is such a high incidence of injury? To back up this claim, the therapists interviewed point to the rise of plantar fasciitis. I’ve never heard this injury described as uncommon; I suffered from it myself before switching to barefoot running.

    The piece goes on to state that not everyone is born to run, despite the claims, and that shoes aid people who might otherwise not be able to pick up the sport. Additionally, “one thing all of the medical professionals I interviewed for this article agree on is that many runners have no business even trying to run barefoot. ‘Runners who have what I call biomechanically disadvantaged feet need shoes, and often orthotics too,’ says Maharam.” Is this just another instance of the running shoe industry trying to over-engineer our natural stride?

    Though well-researched and well-written, this article brings up a lot of controversial topics. While the article claims to not be skewed towards anti-barefoot running advocates, it feels as though there is a certain active encouragement to not pursue barefoot running.

    It seems logical that some injuries would increase as more people try a new (old?) style of running. If folks are getting heel injuries while running barefoot, they’re not doing it right...

    The article may instill fear in those who are just starting out, turning them from the potential path of barefoot or natural running.

    Give it a read and let us know - what do you think? Does this change how you look at barefoot-style running?

    Read it in full here:

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