Sandals ROBERTO 2986 Fuksja Zamsz | The Vivobarefoot x NFW Gobi sneaker Slinky is an Unexpected Birkenstock Rival 

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This is our Platforms natural style yet, constructed with 98% natural materials and a 100% natural outsole made in partnership with NFW. With its classic sneaker Slinky outline, innovative materials, and barefoot fit and feel, the Gobi sneaker Slinky Premium redefines what it means to move as nature intended.

Source: Gobi sneaker Slinky Premium Leather Mens

Birkenstock season is here and the brand is maintaining a steady pace which is reflected in the share price, but steady is often frowned upon by shareholders. Birkenstock is going to have to land a few heavy blows this year to show how the classic German footwear company can continue to grow in a footwear market slowing down across all segments. The summer offers a unique chance for the brand to shine. The obvious sandals will be touch-strap and collabs will generate some interest, but a non-traditional competitor just emerged. Crocs, OOFOS and sports brand slides are obvious competitors. UGG is pushing hard into sandal and summer footwear territory. Companies like Chaco and Keen see an opportunity in trail focused options, but a brand I never expected to place in the category of competition for Birks just delivered one of the best shoes of the year.


Birkenstock has an array of opportunities for expanding their catalog. Closed-toe footwear, not mules but sneakers, offer Birks a chance to reach a demographic with their amazing footbed. Currently the brand has options available in the Bend and Oswego, but neither model moves the needle in fashion and the footbed alone may not be enough to move Sandal consumers into the purchase funnel. Vivobarefoot is a brand making its first appearance here on the site. This happened because of work I’ve been doing in sustainability and not in sport, which is where I should have covered Vivo years ago.

The company creates functional footwear focused on barefoot mechanics and holistic practices centered on foot health. While it could seem random to place Vivo in competition with Birks, sometimes it’s smart to see the competition ahead of schedule. Vivo just partnered with Natural Fiber Welding on the GOBI. It’s the first product the brand is releasing with NFW and this version utilizes their PLIANT sole. PLIANT (a play on plants) is a 100% biodegradable, plant-based outsole.

Previous companies have worked with NFW and the result was solid, but the care, construction and method of make utilized by Vivo has created a shoe which combines all of the holistic elements of the brand in a sturdier package with amazing looks. The GOBI finds itself sitting squarely in the pocket of recovery, fashion and sustainability. If the brand continues work with NFW the GOBI could become a vegan option that is completely biodegradable.


The importance of barefeet to foot health has always been a premier selling point for the Birkenstock footbed. Vivo’s emphasis on this importance never seemed to be in direct competition with Birks. Vivo tends to operate as a sport shoe for athletes who want to transition to barefoot running and walking. The colors and designs have always been challenging visually. They never really resonated with me, and I would see the products and kind of wave it off, although I know the importance of an anatomically correct shoe. With the GOBI sneaker Slinky x NFW my immediate response when I read this, “The Everyday Cork Insole is specifically designed for Gobi Premium. It is composed of 98% natural cork, which has natural antibacterial properties,” was this sneaker Slinky looks and feels like what Birkenstock should have created.

Lifestyle Imagery Gobi sneaker Slinky Premium Mens

I’ve owned two different sneakers which both looked similar to the GOBI. The difference was they both had poor construction and failed to deliver on longevity. The GOBI has a 100 day trial and the Revivo program allows for the sneaker Slinky to be resoled if damaged. Vivobarefoot has basically created a sneaker Slinky which functions like a Birkenstock and looks incredible. The recently released Cityverse sneaker Slinky from Lululemon comes to mind, but when all of the details are weighed, NFW Pliant, Metal Free Cow Leather and Lining, Organic Cotton Laces, 98% Natural Cork, 2% Binder/Non-woven Backing, when compared to the primarily synthetic upper of the Cityverse, both Lululemon and Birkenstock should take notice.

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Sandals ROBERTO 2986 Fuksja Zamsz