From Vibram FiveFingers to Junya Watanabe x New Balance: A History of Minimalist Shoes

My fascination with minimalist footwear has spanned over three decades, starting with the revolutionary concept of shoes that mimic the natural feel of barefoot walking. This journey began with the iconic Vibram FiveFingers, those unique toe shoes with Vibram soles. While they looked quite unconventional, they provided an unmatched experience. I wore them everywhere, from casual outings to more formal settings like church, embracing the natural foot movement they offered.

My FiveFingers: The Original Barefoot Toe Shoes

Designer: Vibram

Back in the day, another minimalist trend I embraced was karate shoes. Over 30 years ago, these martial arts training shoes, also known as kung fu shoes, gained popularity beyond their intended use. Their simple, lightweight design made them a favorite for those seeking a close-to-the-ground feel, similar to what the FiveFingers provided. These shoes were comfortable, flexible, and offered a sense of freedom that traditional footwear couldn’t match.

Fast-forward to the present and my love for minimalist footwear has evolved but remains strong. Today, I find myself drawn to modern interpretations of this concept, like the Onitsuka Tiger shoes, which blend minimalist principles with stylish design. But one of the most exciting developments in this space is the collaboration between Junya Watanabe MAN and New Balance.

Designer: Onitsuka

The Junya Watanabe MAN x New Balance Minimus UX200L is part of the Spring & Summer 2025 collection titled “Dress Up Denim.” This collaboration brings together New Balance’s expertise in minimalist footwear with Junya Watanabe’s avant-garde fashion sensibilities, resulting in a shoe that is both functional and stylish. The shoes maintain a streamlined, low-profile design, characteristic of the Minimus line, promoting natural foot movement and a barefoot-like feel. Available in both black and white colorways, they offer versatility and a clean, modern look suitable for various settings.

Via tysikd: Junya Watanabe MAN x New Balance Minimus UX200L

The upper is made of a breathable mesh material with geometric patterns, ensuring ventilation and a lightweight structure. Perforations on the upper and tongue enhance airflow, keeping feet cool and comfortable during wear. Featuring a Vibram outsole, the shoes provide excellent traction and durability. The intricate geometric tread pattern ensures stability and grip on various surfaces. The sole’s flexibility complements the barefoot feel, allowing natural foot movements while providing necessary protection.

Designer: Junya Watanabe MAN and New Balance Minimus UX200L

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The New Balance branding is subtly incorporated into the design, maintaining the minimalist ethos. The Junya Watanabe MAN label is prominently displayed on the tongue, highlighting the collaboration and adding a touch of exclusivity. Designed for both performance and style, these shoes are suitable for activities ranging from trail running to casual everyday wear. They blend practicality with fashion-forward elements, appealing to a wide audience. These shoes represent the best of both worlds, combining the functional benefits of minimalist footwear with the distinctive style of Junya Watanabe’s designs. For someone who has journeyed through various phases of minimalist footwear, from Vibram FiveFingers to karate shoes, this modern interpretation is both a nod to the past and a step forward.

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Minimalist shoes offer several benefits that attract a variety of people. Designed to mimic barefoot walking and running, they allow for a more natural foot movement, which can help strengthen the muscles in the feet and lower legs, often underused in traditional footwear. With less cushioning and support, minimalist shoes can enhance your sense of balance and proprioception, the awareness of your body’s position in space, leading to better coordination and agility. Some advocates believe that minimalist shoes can reduce the risk of certain injuries by encouraging a more natural gait, potentially avoiding issues like heel striking, which can lead to repetitive stress injuries. The thin soles provide greater sensory feedback from the ground, improving reaction time and movement efficiency. Typically lightweight and highly flexible, minimalist shoes are comfortable for various activities and easy to pack for travel.

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People attracted to minimalist shoes often include runners, outdoor enthusiasts, fitness aficionados, and those interested in natural movement and barefoot training. These shoes appeal to individuals seeking a more natural and unencumbered experience, whether for running, hiking or everyday wear.




As a fan of Bad Bunny’s unique style, I find the collaboration between Bad Bunny and Adidas an exciting development in the world of footwear. This partnership combines Bad Bunny’s vibrant and bold fashion sense with Adidas’ renowned expertise in athletic shoe design. Fresh off a restock of their previous collaborations, Bad Bunny and Adidas appear to be making room for the next chapter of their relationship. The new “ballerina” sneaker, teased recently, showcases Bad Bunny’s unique style.

Designer: Bad Bunny and Adidas

Bad Bunny x Adidas

Based on Adidas’ Taekwondo model, these shoes offer superior comfort and support. The sneaker features a snug canvas construction and a normal collar, differing from the elastic detailing of past models. Features like responsive cushioning and durable outsoles ensure that the shoes perform well in various conditions. The collaboration utilizes premium materials to provide durability and a luxurious feel. This ensures that the shoes not only look good but also last long and maintain their quality over time. The sneaker offers convenient adjustable laces for easy on-off ability, blending style with practicality.

The collaboration is marked by exclusive branding elements from both Bad Bunny and Adidas, adding a layer of collectability and uniqueness to the shoes. The iconic Three-Stripes logos are slightly raised, and the shoes are topped off with classic splashes of white and black hues. These Bad Bunny x Adidas “ballerina” shoes are more than just footwear; they make a bold statement with their striking design and unique patterns, embodying Bad Bunny’s signature style. Whether you’re a fan of Bad Bunny, a sneaker enthusiast, or someone who appreciates innovative design, these shoes offer something special.