Sustainable Footwear Brand Vivobarefoot Opens First North American Store in Vancouver’s Kitsilano [Interview/Photos]


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Sustainable footwear and natural health brand Vivobarefoot has opened its first store in North America in Vancouver. 

The store is located at 2190 W 4th in Kitsilano.

Andrew Bentley

Andrew Bentley, CEO of Vivobarefoot Canada, said Vancouver is an ideal place for the brand to open its first store in North America.

“When you look at the Vancouver lifestyle, the demographics, for us it’s the ideal target market and that’s not to say to the exclusion of Ontario or other geographies . . . but for us in terms of launching the demographics, Vancouverites love their lifestyle. They care about physical and mental health, movement. It is so germane to the lifestyle that they created and as a result of that they gravitate towards our product,” said Bentley.

Vivobarefoot at 2190 W 4th in Kitsilano (Image: Vivobarefoot)
Vivobarefoot at 2190 W 4th in Kitsilano (Image: Vivobarefoot)

That’s the main reason for the entry into the market in Vancouver, he said, but added that another reason is a logistic one because the company’s warehouse is in Surrey, just south of Vancouver.

“So we have the ability to have a really tight logistical supply chain where all of our product is warehoused in Surrey. We have hundreds, thousands, pairs in the store but we have the ability to hot shot if you will product between the warehouse into the store. And from a Canadian perspective, there’s eight million tourists that hit Vancouver every year and whether they’re there for business or tourism is another opportunity to sort of send people home with some awareness that Vivobarefoot is a global brand.”

Vivobarefoot is a certified B Corp whose goal is to connect consumers to the natural world and set a new standard in regenerative business.

The first store in North America is 800 square feet and will feature displays built out of natural materials highlighting the wildly popular Primus Lite and Hydra ESC styles. The space has been constructed with community in mind and will be leveraged to host educational courses including natural movement classes and barefoot product demos. 

Image: Vivobarefoot Canada
Vivobarefoot at 2190 W 4th in Kitsilano (Image: Vivobarefoot)

Founded in 2012 by two seventh-generation cobblers, Galahad and Asher Clark, Vivobarefoot is based on one simple insight -barefoot footwear is regenerative to human health. A Vivobarefoot product or experience is one that literally brings people closer to nature, says the company.

Bentley said the foot is a biomechanical miracle and the company believes the foot is germane to the health of a person. So the closer people are to nature the more they will protect it.

“And the natural world is the real model of sustainability. It works really well. So barefoot footwear is about regenerative health. It’s about getting people moving more naturally in the natural environment,” he said.

“It’s about taking the foot in its natural most holistic position and having it move through nature.”

Vivobarefoot 2022 Holiday Pop-up at CF Chinook Centre

The footwear is designed wide, thin and flexible for natural strength and freedom of movement. Vivobarefoot makes its footwear as close to barefoot as possible to connect people to the earth and feel the ground beneath their feet. The company combines ancient indigenous wisdom with modern innovation and its range consists of natural, biosynthetic and recycled material products of super minimalist design.

“We believe: The closer people are to nature, the more they will protect it. The natural world is the only real model of sustainability. Barefoot footwear is regenerative to human health,” it says.

“The human foot is a biomechanical masterpiece; when left to its own devices it can thrive doing everything from walking and running to jumping and dancing, but by cramming it in a modern shoe – cushioned, narrow and rigid – negates its natural strength and function. Our feet are our foundation connecting us to the earth, they should not be compromised.

All Vivobarefoot footwear is designed to be Wide, Thin and Flexible: as close to barefoot as possible. They promote your foot’s natural strength and movement. Allowing you to feel the ground beneath your feet.

“There is a powerful sensory connection between the feet and the brain and thus, our movement and place in the world. A Vivobarefoot shoe reconnects you to the world around you, literally bringing you closer to nature.”

Because sustainability is germane to everything it does, Vivobarefoot has partnered with Veritree in a reforestation program to sequester 9,700 tonnes of CO2. Every purchase contributes to a tree being planted in either eastern Canada or western Canada.

Image: Vivobarefoot South Africa

The company is based in the UK. Concept stores exist in the UK and Germany and distributors in places like Australia, Netherlands, Tel Aviv.

“We are building shoe shaped shoes not foot shaped shoes. The shoes that we’re building today in the modern world are not helping,” said Bentley, adding research has shown that footwear has changed the mechanics of a foot.

“Children for example. Their feet are cartilage until they’re teenagers. The ability to actually affect the shape of the foot is in many cases dictated by the shoes they wear.”

Bentley said every Canadian NHL team to his knowledge has players that wear the Vivobarefoot shoes. There’s also Olympians who wear the shoes.

The company says over 24 billion pairs are produced each year, with over 90 per cent of these likely to end up in landfill — often within 12 months of purchase. The majority of shoes are crammed full of petrochemical materials that outlast their use by 1000’s of years when thrown away. 

“Instead of filling landfill, we are closing the loop. From 2020, every single shoe is designed at Vivobarefoot to have an end of life solution. 

ReVivo is the world’s first e-commerce marketplace for refurbished and repaired barefoot shoes. Keeping our shoes on our feet and out of landfill,” says Vivobarefoot.

Additional Images from Vivobarefoot Kitsilano

Vivobarefoot at 2190 W 4th in Kitsilano (Image: Vivobarefoot)
Vivobarefoot at 2190 W 4th in Kitsilano (Image: Vivobarefoot)
Vivobarefoot at 2190 W 4th in Kitsilano (Image: Vivobarefoot)
Vivobarefoot at 2190 W 4th in Kitsilano (Image: Vivobarefoot)
Vivobarefoot at 2190 W 4th in Kitsilano (Image: Vivobarefoot)
Vivobarefoot at 2190 W 4th in Kitsilano (Image: Vivobarefoot)
Vivobarefoot at 2190 W 4th in Kitsilano (Image: Vivobarefoot)
Vivobarefoot at 2190 W 4th in Kitsilano (Image: Vivobarefoot)
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.


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