I don't know how you feel about stepping outside your comfort zone, but the process could be exciting to me, especially when we're talking running gear. I read tons of articles about MBT-branded shoes — in fact, few athletic shoe companies have come under as much scrutiny thanks to the signature sole design featured on every pair of shoes.
But on the other hand, corporate responsibility is high up on the company's list of priorities. As a result, my research became two pronged: find out the story behind the brand and try out the MBT's latest model, which is how a pair of silver and blue MBT Women's Zee 16 shoes came to live in my closet.
Is a company as important as the products it produces? I say yes, which is how I came to find out about MBT's promise to be a responsible player on the international running shoe scene. Promoting social justice appears to be as critical to MBT's mission as making high-quality shoes, and when I read the firm's code of conduct, principles, social accountability, stringent labour practices, insistence on fair wages for workers and stringent non-discrimination policies, I was in awe.
Everything from meeting environmental standards to responsible packaging factors into MBT's business practices, so my immediate thought, after reading tons of facts and figures, was this: "If these shoes perform as well as the company does, this is going to be one interesting test."
MBT, on the other hand, specifically targets running shoe wearers who have previously failed to find a shoe that's comfortable enough to meet their health and fitness needs.
To accomplish their mission, MBT Swiss founder invented Masai Barefoot Technology (ergo the MBT brand name) based on the natural walking patterns of one of Kenya's oldest peoples: The Masai. To achieve their goal, a multi-layered, curved sole was patented and dubbed MBT Sensor Technology. To cut to the chase, every shoe produced by MBT is manufactured on a pivot axis sole that forces the feet to roll forward with each step taken, the movement in the shoes stimulates the natural benefits of walking on natural ground.
Despite a premium price tag of S$249, I was all in for the Masai experience when I slid on my women's Zee 16 kicks in a sleek silver and sky blue colour palette.
Already intrigued by the unique feel of the rolling sole, I like the fact that these shoes are made with minimal stitching (less to rip), breathable air mesh upper and the Drylex 360-degree moisture management lining that, MBT claims, helps protect my feet from incurring infections born of rubs, cuts and blisters.
Did the Zee 16s fulfill BMT's promise that the Molded Heel Counter would lock my foot in place without killing my feet? So far, so good — but it's taking time to get both my feet and my body adjusted to the rolling sole. I'm taking it on faith.
The Zee 16 promises to re-align my whole body by forcing my muscle groups to adjust to the shoe. Let's just say that the term “rock and roll” took on new meaning as soon as I began testing my new kicks.
- For runners who have had physical set-backs — perhaps they switched from other brands to MBT running shoes because posture re-alignment solved pain and fit issues — the Zee 16 is winning approval from people who might otherwise have to adopt a new favourite sport.
- After a short break-in period, I could tell that my muscles were benefitting from the change in foot motion, so I'm not surprised that a select audience calls the Zee 16 "unbelievable" "impressive" and "amazing."
- I noticed shock reduction immediately and concluded that I was using more muscles running in my Zee 16s than I did when I wore other brands. The jury's still out on whether my body's alignment has improved.
- On average, MBT shoes are said last two to three times longer than other brands, according to owners who have filled their closets with this manufacturer's shoes in all styles. I'll have to check back with you on wear and longevity down the road.
- The running collection is refreshing. I have no complaints in the looks department.
- There’s no way to break in these shoes without discomfort since the design of this sole is a radical departure from shoes I've worn before. Patience, runner. Allow extra break-in and adjustment time.
- The S$249 price tag is expensive, but there are other styles in the running collection that start from S$149
- If you suffer from pronation or supination issues, MBT may not be suitable for you, no matter how cool the Zee 16 looks on your feet.
- Try them on before you buy. I found I had to get half a size larger than I normally would to get the right fit!
MBT targets a niche group of people who are looking to pursue a healthy and active lifestyle. While some people have tried and can’t seem to get adjusted to it due to the natural instability of the patented curve sole. The brand do have a strong and loyal cult following of supporters who swore by the brand, and have stuck to it ever since their first try-on.
The shoes may not be for everyone, so it's advisable to visit MBT’s pop-up store at the atrium space in Suntec City Level 1, Temasek Boulevard Entrance from 11th to 17th April. This is your chance to get to know about the MBT shoes and its full benefits.
Meanwhile with every try-on, you get to spin the sure-win wheel to win MBT vouchers to offset your purchase.
Have you ever stepped out of your comfort zone and bought a pair of running shoes because everything about them intrigued you?