About this project
What is a Barefoot Dress Shoe:
Traditional shoe design calls for elements that are no longer necessary or functional. For example, heels on shoes were introduced to keep a rider’s foot from slipping out of his horse stirrup. When was the last time you rode a horse? In dress shoes?
From the beginning, our mission has been to remove those unnecessary elements that did not belong while re-imagining and re-examining those elements that do.
Our barefoot-inspired, minimalist design has transformed the approach to making men’s dress shoes. We have worked hard to find the perfect partners to handcraft these transformative shoes and are proud to say they will be made here in the USA. Now we need your help in bringing our first order to life.
How Altum transformed men's dress shoes:
Altum’s Vibram Sole: we have implemented into our barefoot design a 4mm-thin Vibram sole (slightly thicker than two nickels stacked on top of each other) that is flexible enough to let your foot move naturally yet durable enough for daily wear. This is in stark contrast to the hard, wooden or thick, heavy rubber soles of traditional dress shoes.
No Heel or Arch Support: no heel means that you can remain properly aligned when on your feet. No matter how slight the heel might be in traditional dress shoes, it affects your posture and movement which in turn puts more pressure on your ankles, knees, and back. Sore knees or a tight back after being on your feet all day? Your shoes' heels are major contributor to that pain. Arch support, meanwhile, is for all intents and purposes a man-made creation. For the majority of the population that do not have flat feet or fallen arches, arch support in traditional dress shoes prevent your feet from moving like they were meant to, acting like a crutch. The result is fat and lazy feet - which can lead to other lower body issues.
Lightweight, Flexible Upper Materials: our Italian bull-hide leather is the perfect combination of function and fashion. Whereas traditional dress shoes use stiff, inflexible, and inexpensive leather Altum uses some of the softest yet durable premium leather available. Our tanneries provide this same leather to those Italian designer brands that charge $1,000s per pair and we are committed to bringing you this same quality while making them all the more comfortable and affordable.
Wider-Cut Toe Box: when we walk, our foot expands by up to 20% on the push off. Tradtional dress shoes use a long, narrow, tight toe box design which hurts when just sitting in them, let alone when actually walking. The Altum toe box is designed to follow the contours of your foot, being cut wider so as to be more comfortable and allowing room for your feet to expand.
Why is Barefoot better?
Traditional shoes are designed in a way that locks your foot in a “cast,” preventing natural movement. When you are barefoot (or in Altums) you are allowing your feet to move naturally which in turn allows your entire lower body to move correctly. When these muscles can move like they were meant to they are able to be stimulated and strengthened.
Standing flat allows for better posture and natural alignment from head to toe. This feels good. Heels on traditional shoes - no matter how small they are - force your body to be constantly making micro-adjustments which often results in sore ankles, knees, and back.
Studies out of Harvard University have shown that being barefoot reduces the impact our body absorbs when running. This is because running barefoot forces us to shorten our stride which results in changing our gait and landing on the midfoot as opposed to the heel. As a result, our bodies experience less of a shock as the force of this impact is reduced and also spread across a wider surface area. Once you find this stride - which requires practice since you are essentially re-training your body how to run - your knees and back will thank you.
Balance, Agility, Proprioception
Your feet are home to thousands of neurological receptors responsible for sending information to your brain. Traditional thick-soled shoes prevent these neural connections from being stimulated - and thus help prevent this important feedback from being completely communicated to the brain. This cut-off in communication can assist in weakening one’s balance, agility, and proprioception. Stimulating these connections is important to maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle.
Designing & Manufacturing in the USA
Designing: Our barefoot dress shoe is the result of collaborations with some of the best shoe designers in the world - all of whom are based right here in the USA. Our partners have played key roles in designing some of the most popular barefoot/minimalist running shoes available and have been instrumental in helping Altum implement this barefoot technology into a men’s leather dress shoe.
Manufacturing: We are proud to say that our shoes will be handcrafted by hard-working, skilled Americans here at home. The craftsmanship that goes into producing each shoe is remarkable and it is this craftsmanship that will make your Altum Barefoot Dress Shoes your favorite pair. We are also proud to say that our shoe bags and shoe boxes will also be made in the USA.
Risks and challenges
We have taken the steps necessary to line up our supply and manufacturing partners and will continue to work hard to ensure that we are on the same page as our suppliers and factories. However, as with any project, there is a chance of unforeseen challenges coming up. We will stay in touch with you throughout the manufacturing process, keeping you updated on the progress of our initial order of barefoot dress shoes.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
We will be communicating with you throughout the process and will provide a survey in which to collect your size and color preferences.
You will not be charged until after our campaign is complete on December 16.
Shoes will be available in sizes 7, 7.5, 8, 8.5, 9, 9.5, 10, 10.5, 11, 11.5, 12, 12.5, 13, 14
Color choices: Black, Chocolate, Caramel, Tail Feather Red
When creating our shoes, we follow a barefoot-inspired/minimalist design approach, meaning we strip away all of the unnecessary pieces and parts - like heels and heavy sole materials - that are traditionally found in dress shoes. This design allows your foot (and body) to move more naturally.
Barefoot dress shoe does not mean “toe shoes”! There are no individual slots for your toes within the leather, but our wider cut toe box provides you with the same function: giving your toes more room and the ability to spread out when walking.
Altum shoes fit true to size. That being said, 80% of men do not know what their actual size is! We often wear shoes that are too small or too big and just accept the fact that dress shoes are uncomfortable. When we reach out to you and collect your sizing and color information, we will include a chart to help you select the right size. What we are finding, however, is that with our wider cut, our shoes feel a little bigger. So, for example, if you are unsure about ordering say a 9.5 or 10, you will most likely be better served going with the smaller 9.5.
Leather is leather and it is extremely durable. We searched for the right material that would be light enough to not get in your way and yet durable enough to withstand daily wear and tear. In fact, when we are not in our office clothes, we are running or working out in our Altum shoes.
Altum shoes come with a 4mm Vibram rubber sole (slightly thicker than two nickels stacked on top of each other); when you step on a rock you will feel it. That is the goal! By stimulating the neurons in your feet, you are working to engage your brain. However, how much you feel it depends on a number of factors, but Vibram is recognized worldwide as the leader in high-performance soling products and we are proud our 4mm sole comes from this product line.
Absolutely! Over the years we have become used to being either barefoot or wearing barefoot/minimalist running shoes without socks and that is reflected in our pictures. But you can wear whatever you like with yours!
To help with this by-product of being barefoot we have implemented into our design a footbed with anti-microbial elements. This is a great compliment to leather's natural odor-fighting capabilities (as natural leather is actually very good at fighting off odor).
“Altum” comes from the Latin word meaning “to nourish, support, feed.” From the start, this project has been about much more than just shoes; for us it has been a way to live. Too often we find ourselves sitting on the sidelines watching our lives pass us by. Going through the motions is not living. Altum serves as a call to find the courage to take those first steps onto the field, to put yourself out there and actually “live.” It is essential that we pursue those passions we hold dear - be it writing the book we have been thinking about, taking that vacation we have been dreaming of, or starting a shoe company - for these are the things that make us feel alive, the things that truly nourish us.
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