September 1, 2011

Element Shaolin Review

I was right, as it turns out, in assuming that a skate shop would have my most desirable shoe options. I found a wall of flat shoes, modest in appearance, designed to be stood in for hours at a time. I also found the above, which is not a skate shoe per se, but is made by Element.

So, you bought knock-off Tom's?

I would say no, if only because Tom's hardly invented the slipper/house-shoe design. But it is popular now, so the comparison insists itself in to the discussion. The aesthetic is different, in several ways. And I have to admit, I like the minimalist appearance.

Mostly, I bought the most comfortable thing I could find. The canvas upper and inner lining feel great on bare feet or socks. The hold isn't great, but I'm not running in these. The cork blended mid-sole is cushion enough for my feet, without being awkward or cumbersome. The shoe has left my legs feeling better at the end of a shift than anything else I've worn - which is a priority, when you've got running to do.

Of course, your mileage may vary. Anyone looking for great traction should look elsewhere. And if you want arch support, or any manner of stabilizing or cushion features, you'll not find them here. The shoe's greatest appeal is in it's ability to disappear, and allow you to feel as if you're not wearing it. Call it addition by subtraction, a time tested design, or cynical pop-Buddhist marketing.

But you can also call them 25$. For a moderate shift's tips, I can hardly imagine a better barista shoe.