By David Wilfong, NDG Contributing Writer
There is a new kind of shoe out on the market, one born from a Utah-based manufacturer of accessories for golf (by Michael Pratt, former founder and CEO of Ogio International, which has since been acquired by Callaway). The Kizik shoe utilizes “F.A.S.T.” (Foot Activated Shoe Technology) to make a shoe that never needs to be laced up, in other words, a “hands free shoe.” They’re called “Kiziks” and they’re being marketed as a “smart shoe” with a tech advantage.
There is no tying of laces. You don’t even have to reach down to put them on, just point the toes in and slide. There is a titanium band in the heel of the shoe which will bend to allow the foot to be inserted, and then spring back into place behind the heel, keeping the shoe snug during normal wear. It is also designed to be pulled off using only your feet (just the way your mother told you never to do with your sneakers growing up).
Here at the North Dallas Gazette, we were offered a complimentary pair to try out. As our editor is aware that I go through shoes like they’re candy, the review duties fell upon me. The shoes are available at Dillard’s and I met up with the Kizik team there a week ago to try them out.
These are my thoughts after a week of wear.
The pair I have tried are the “New York” style in “Coffee” color. The New York style is a casual men’s shoe. There is also a “Jogger” style. The cuts of the shoe (some of which in the back are actually necessary to support the heel action) make these a more trendy and contemporary take on the casual loafer than most of its colleagues on shoe store shelves. Reviews from friends and coworkers have also been on the positive side.
The current Kizik shoe has “faux laces” which seem unnecessary for a shoe touting itself to be free of the lace-tying process, but the representatives have told me the second generation models will be available without this aesthetic detail. The examples I was shown also all came with white trim around the sole. Personally, I think black trim would make this shoe more viable to move between casual and more dressy occasions.
Comfort and Durability
These shoes are comfortable. Perhaps more interesting to me than the slide-in process is the cushion insert the foot rests on. They score higher than most shoes in this category. There is, however, one little thing to get used to (and it is something you don’t even think of until you try them). With most shoes, the “hug” of the opening is felt on the sides of your ankles. The first few times you wear the Kizik shoe, that pressure is felt at the front and the back. It’s not a big thing, and it goes away (or at least out of mind) rather quickly, but it was noticeable on the first couple of days.
In the store, I tried on the jogging style, and that version gives a little more “grip” to the bottom of the ankle than the casual pair I took home with me.
As far as durability, the shoe seems to do well. After a week there is no scuffing and wear on the soles is minimal. A week is a short period of time to report back on a good pair of shoes, but I have seen the beginnings of seam separation in lesser shoes during that period of time. According to company representatives, the mechanism for the slide-in function is rated for putting on the shoes 25 times a day for four years (which is more than anyone does).
Ok, these shoes are a bit expensive. The casual style runs $180 while the jogger runs $190. However, there are numerous standard tennis shoe styles which are in the same price range. A good pair of men’s loafers will fall into the $100-140 range as well. The Kizik falls slightly above that average, but may be a good buy depending on how much they are worn and how long they last.
In conclusion, these shoes have a neat new function. The ability to just slide them on and off is a mere convenience and novelty to me. However, they may be a blessing for someone with impaired mobility. Footwear aficionados will definitely want to have a first edition, as it seems this new feature will probably stick.
As a shoe for shoe purposes, the Kizik gets high marks for comfort, which is the most important part. At this point I’m sure I’ve put a good 20 miles or more on them and they are holding up quite well. My feet aren’t complaining and there’s no tell-tale signs of early wear-and-tear. In terms of style the casual shoe is very versatile, and can be a good fit for all but the most spiffy occasions (but I’m sure there is already a design on the drawing boards for that too).
More info on this footwear is available at www.kizik.com.