The Latest New Thing… Is Really Old.

My Merrell minimalist shoes… I really like them!

One of the things about modern life that I find extremely silly is our fascination with the New and Improved. It is clear to me that much of the New and Improved is actually neither and the majority of the rest isn’t actually necessary or even particularly wanted. This is not to say that I’m a Luddite or even a retrogrouch, it’s just that I find it amusing that ideas and products seem to have a more circular existence than most people think.

Take for example the latest “development” in running shoes. Thanks in large part to a very good book, Born to Run, middle distance runners and athletes of all types are discovering that “less is more,” at least when it comes to insole cushions and raised heels. As a result a whole new type of shoe has hit the markets and now it seems that everyone is trying to develop the next great advancement in minimalist shoe technology. These new shoes have little/no padding, flexible soles, no raised heels, and are lightweight. Some of them are even made of breathable materials in order to keep your feet cool for a “more complete barefoot experience.”

My preferred school shoes. Embrace your inner retro-chic!

Are these shoes really new, though? Doesn’t this all sound vaguely familiar? I’m certain that for any of you with any appreciation of retro styles at all, it does.

I know that we all make jokes about “when are bell-bottoms coming back into style?” or “I’m telling you, flannel is making a comeback!” In fact, we may not be that far off the mark. I’m certain that in a few years someone will rediscover the amazing properties of wool (for example) and knit sweaters, caps, and socks will be in and high-tech fabrics will be out. Just wait for it.


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