It’s a great commercial. Carl Lewis runs across New York barefoot, all the way up to the crown of the Statue of Liberty. The reveal? The bottoms of his feet are tires. Pirelli tires.
While we’re talking about a tire commercial here, Lewis’s minimal shoes are a stone’s throw from what Amazonians invented. By dipping their bare feet in latex from the Hevea tree, they invented the world’s first rubber shoes—shoes so simplistically tailored that they put Vibram FiveFingers to shame.
It’s a convergence of these ideas that inspired the Iguaneye, a Kickstarter project for what may be the world’s most minimal shoe. The Iguaneye is basically a rubber slipper, coating the bottom of your foot to protect the skin from rough terrain, but doing little else. Is it natural, Amazonian rubber? No. But there’s a good reason for that.
"We first considered natural rubber for the main body," designer Olivier Taco explains. "But when we realized that rubber comes from hardcore mono-culture in Indonesia, and that it must be protected from air by a huge quantity of ammonia, we decided to use synthetic rubber that is (in a paradoxical way) better for the environment."
Where the Iguaneye really differs from other minimal shoes, though, is that it’s a total convertible—there are no tongues or straps to impede airflow over your foot—and the insole is 98% naturally antimicrobial cork. While Carl Lewis and the Amazonians wore bare rubber, the insole is a necessity, Taco explains, because "direct contact with synthetic material is not pleasant or hygienic."
As a result, the Iguaneye has an interesting model that’s hyper vigilant around foot dryness. The shoe actually has vents that run underneath the insole, and its creators also encourage you to swap out that cork insole often, rotating through a few pairs to let the material dry out (and replacing these insoles with relative frequency.) The synthetic rubber shell—the shoe itself—promises to last a long time.
A pair of Iguaneyes can be pre-ordered now through Kickstarter for about $65.