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Meet Peluva, the Brand Redefining Minimalist Shoes

Former competitive runner and longtime health guru Mark Sisson delivers an attractive, comfortable, fingered shoe.

Fitness author, food blogger, and former distance runner/triathlete/Ironman competitor Mark Sisson founded Peluva with his son Kyle Sisson in 2021 with a goal to create the best minimalist shoe on the market. Now, they have released a line they believe tackles three crucial buying criteria offering greater comfort, function, and style.

When Mark retired from his career as an elite endurance athlete nearly 40 years ago, he pivoted to researching and discovering new ways for people to achieve optimal health and fitness. In 2006, he began sharing his articles on ancestral health on his blog, Mark’s Daily Apple. (The @marksdailyapple Instagram account has more than 130,000 devoted followers today.) Along the way, he became obsessed with shoes and foot health, and was an early proponent of barefoot living and the minimalist shoe movement. He has also promoted walking as the single best exercise that anyone can do.

Despite collecting hundreds of pairs, Mark felt the industry’s minimalist shoes fell short on comfort and style. When he and Kyle founded Peluva, they developed four pillars they felt addressed these shortcomings: zero drop from toe to heel, increased flexibility, a wide toe box, and thinner soles.

“The goal with Peluva was to take what was learned from Minimalist Shoes 1.0 and build a new kind of shoe from the ground up,” Mark explains. “The ideal shoe would have just enough protection from rocks or hard artificial surfaces but thin enough to offer the ‘ground feel’ that allows the thousands of nerves in the bottoms of the feet to supply the brain with information — texture, tilt, potholes, etc. — it needs to orchestrate the entire kinetic chain in a perfect gait.”

To achieve this, Peluva shoes have a slight bit of added protection (5 mm). Peluva shoes have five individual toe boxes to allow toes to move independently, but each features a slight lateral stiffness to reduce the risk of injury.

Then, they tackled the aesthetics. “It had to have the appearance, from most angles, of a regular training shoe,” Mark adds. “The design team worked with veteran shoe designers and biomechanists to create many different prototypes, testing various thicknesses, midsole softness, upper materials, and visual elements.” Finally, Mark and Kyle spent a year wear-testing the finished models on varied terrain, putting 650 miles on a single pair of Peluva Strands.

Mark notes that wearers don’t need to be athletes, and there’s no learning curve to wearing the shoes. “Peluva enables anyone’s feet to regain strength, mobility and resilience by allowing the movement of all the small muscles of the feet in accordance with one’s own particular biomechanics,” he adds. “Because much of this happens while simply standing or walking, there are minimal stressors, strain or G-forces that the body might otherwise undergo while running in minimalist shoes.”

He does caution that the styles are not recommended for running, but for walking in complete comfort while regaining foot strength, mobility, and resilience. The brand now offers several styles for men and women, including its signature Strand lightweight trainer, a casual loafer, dress hybrid, and desert boot. Peluva has an established retail presence in the Southeastern U.S., but Mark tells Footwear Plus the brand hopes to expand nationally over the next year.

The April/May 2024 Issue

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