For those of you who are wondering where all the Five Fingers are, when the Bikila will be here, or just what is new at Vibram, here is a letter Vibram CEO Tony Post wrote to all the Five Finger Facebook fans today.
Dear FiveFingers Fans,
It’s been a few months since my last post on this site – but like nearly every person in our company, I read your posts and comments every day. I genuinely appreciate all the feedback and information you so openly share. It’s been very insightful to learn what you like and don’t like, and we’ve tried to be responsive to your needs.
Today I want to take this opportunity to address some of your questions.
What’s going on with Product Availability? As we wrote back in September 2009, we understand your concern about limited product availability. It’s never been our desire to hold back manufacturing so that we can create more demand. It’s quite the opposite in fact – we have expanded our manufacturing capacity by opening 2 new factories this year, and we have 2 more factories now in testing; we are flying all product from the factories to the warehouse (sure it’s costly, but it’s more costly to lose customers), and we have limited our new product introductions and store count so that we can focus on delivering more product in the current styles to existing stores. We always service our retail partners before stocking our own web store, we realize this has made it harder for those of you who want to order from our site, but it’s simply a direction we have chosen to take. As our product availability improves, so will our stock position in our web store – we’ll keep you advised.
As we close the first quarter of 2010, we will have shipped 6X as much product as we did last year at this time (which, by the way, was 3X more than the year before). For Q2 we are set up to receive and ship nearly 10X as much product as we did last year. We realize we have a long way to go to satisfy the growing demand, but we want you to know we are doing all that we can (adding staff, adding factories, flying product, and limiting brand expansion) to serve you better, while not sacrificing quality or workmanship.
When will the new Bikila arrive? Some of you have been running in Vibram FiveFingers since 2006 – in fact, since March of 2006 it’s the only shoe I’ve used for running. And despite all the progress we have made since our launch, we never really had a FiveFingers product designed SPECIFICALLY FOR running — until now. As Vibram’s #1 running product tester, I can tell you that I love this new Bikila platform – especially for longer runs. It offers a little more protection to the metatarsal heads, without compromising that barefoot sensation; the fit is secure and comfortable, and the shoe just feels FAST.
Look for the new Bikila to start hitting the first stores in late April. We are flying in the first 25K pair, but I doubt we will be able to keep up with the initial demand. We ask for your patience, as we will work diligently to bring you this new product.
It probably goes without saying, but for those new to the ‘natural running’ movement, we always encourage you to do your research, consult your physician, and transition gradually. Learning to run naturally, using a forefoot strike in FiveFingers, is a process. You will use new muscles, new biomechanics, and you need to give your body time to adjust and adapt. This link from Nature Magazine’s interview with Harvard Professor, Dr. Dan Lieberman, is a great place to start your education: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jrnj-7YKZE&feature=player_embedded, you can visit our website for more links, articles, and information. BTW, Dan will be running the London Marathon in FiveFingers next month – look for him if you are there!
So what’s next? Even though we have limited our new style offering to maximize current production, we do have several interesting new products besides the Bikila! The KSO Trek for women is now in production and due to arrive in May. This style was added to our women’s line because you requested it – and we’re with you 100%! I love my Treks and have used them extensively on trails and for everyday wear. The upper is more breathable and the bottom platform offers more plating protection than our other models.
We also added another product specifically for women – the Performa Jane, which uses the same platform as the Performa, with a ‘Mary Jane’ style upper for more security on the foot. It’s been a popular ‘fit trial’ among women in the office, and will hit stores next month. The Performa Jane is great for strength training, yoga, and general fitness activity.
We’ve also added new colors in all of the core styles for men and women, and we’ve expanded some of our sizes. You will see these new products on the website in the coming weeks.
As our company and fan base continues to grow, we will do our best to maintain this type of open dialogue with you. You are integral to the growth and evolution of our concept and the Vibram FiveFingers brand.
Thank you all for your continued support.
President & CEO