I have long been a fan of Freet, with their range of versatile and practical footwear set at the lower end of the barefoot footwear price range. I’ve enjoyed following their growth and development from their quirky 4+1 shoes, to their more conventional casual shoes, walking boots, running shoes, and most recently their kids’ range.
What the brand has been lacking is a smarter, more mainstream style of barefoot shoe. Vivobarefoot has offered smart barefoot shoes for a while, but I suspect that their price puts them out of reach of many. Freet’s new range includes the Elgon. A real leather, smart-casual shoe that comes in black or light brown, and at a lower price than most Vivos.
Some people may have been under the impression that Freet is a virtuously vegan brand, as I think all of their previous footwear has been so. Those people may feel betrayed and may baulk at the idea of Freet using leather, but in this present age of antiplastic, leather shoes are enjoying being the sustainable choice.
And Freet have done it very well. These Elegons look great. I’ve never been one for choosing smart footwear if I can help it; I wear what’s practical, functional, and comfortable. The Elgons are all of those things, plus smart (relatively, for me). Suddenly my same old jeans and trousers are looking smart with a pair of Elgons beneath them, and I am beginning to feel like I should be upgrading my t-shirt and hoodie to a shirt and v-neck combo.
True to Freet’s ethos, the Elgon is flat to the floor, with a wide toe box. They’re as minimalist any other Freet shoe, and you get a true feel for what’s underfoot. The insole is removable, so you can go with just the 4mm of sole underfoot, or you can add a few millimetres of cushion if that’s your thing, or you can use it to add a few millimetres of insulation in the colder months too.
One word of caution though; when wet, the soles slip easily on shiny tiled floors, so please slow down when you walk wet-footed into a shop, station concourse, or a polished tile showroom.
The leather is soft and supple, flawless, and the shoes feel very comfortable. They are well constructed and the lack of visible signs of fatigue after just over a month of continuous daily wear is encouraging.
Size-wise, I have previously been advised by Freet to go a size up from my ‘normal’ shoe size, and regular Freet wearers will have been told the same. These Elgons come up larger than other Freets, so I have a pair in my actual shoe size. While they are a good fit generally, the slightly larger of my feet is snug, and in thick winter socks I suspect it will be on the tighter side of snug. I’d suggest either going for your normal size and maintaining a thin sock year-round, or going for a single EU size up from normal and give yourself room to bulk-up the sock.
Freet has once again nailed it. The Elgon is a great addition to the range, offering barefoot shoes to those who don’t want the quirkiness of big-toe segregation or who don’t want to be in trainers all the time. Well done Freet for bringing leather barefoot shoes to the more accessible end of the market.