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The Business of Gear: Q&A with Skora Running Founder and CEO David Sypniewski

posted by gumptiongear February 23, 2012 1 Comment

At Gumption Gear we strive to provide our readers with in-depth,  informative, and balanced reviews of the latest outdoor gear.  Through our new feature “The Business of Gear” we aim to  introduce our readers to the personalities and companies behind your favorite gear.

We start our series with a question and answer session with Skora, a Portland, Oregon-based company founded in 2008 by self-proclaimed “ordinary” runners tired of the injuries caused by traditional running shoes. Recently we posted a first look review of Skora’s flagship minimalist running shoe the Form. David Sypniewski, Founder and CEO of SKORA Running, was gracious enough to discuss the company, his vision and the shoes that make the brand.

Q: SKORA started in 2008. Could you share your motivation and reasons for starting SKORA.

Since discovering barefoot running in 2003, I was frustrated by the lack of performance minimal shoes available on the market. Decided to build my own. Four years later and we’ve developed BASE & FORM models as our entry in the running shoe world. Built by runners for runners.

Q: Does the word “SKORA” have any particular meaning or significance?

It’s a riff on the word “skóra” in Polish which means ‘skin’ or ‘leather’. My background is Polish and we’re building 2nd skin type shoes — I’d say that SKORA has a special significance to me and what we’re doing.

Q: Bringing a new shoe to market for any company can be difficult. What are some of the challenges for you as a new company bringing a high end minimalist shoe to market?

By far the single biggest challenge is gaining shelf space at specialty running retailers. It’s very competitive and many retailers are cautious in bringing in a new brand – especially one that is zero-drop and minimal like ours.

Q: What sets the Form apart from other minimalist shoes?

Our FORM model went through some incredible pattern making and engineering to ensure we created a fit unlike any other. Coupled with the soft yet durable goatskin/sheepskin, the asymmetrical lacing and the high density EVA & rubbers, we believe we have a minimalist shoe only runners could have dreamt of.

Q: How did you come to the decision to use the combination of goat skin and sheep skin? How does this combination of materials affect breathability and moisture wicking, especially on long runs and/or hot days.

The decision was easy. Since we’re building shoes that mirror and celebrate the foot and celebrate it’s mechanics, using natural materials that breath like skin was a no-brainer. Cold or hot days, the high performance goatskin & sheepskin is amazing. It just works.

Q: Can you share the process used to prepare the goat skin and sheep materials?

Pittards does a much better than I ever could. Check it out here.

Q: The adjustable heel strap is an ingenious idea, how did you come up with that?

Again, form follows function. We wanted the runner to have a personal fit in the heel as we removed the traditional stiff heel-counter.

Q: Shoes are designed with different uses in mind – racing, training, multipurpose, etc. What type(s) of running is the Form designed?

All of the above really. It’s an extremely adaptable and forgiving shoe. Although designed as a road shoe we have runners using them on nearly every running surface and distance, including ultras!

Q: What else can we expect to see in the coming year from SKORA?

We’re launching the women’s line for Fall, in-stores late July. We will keep pushing ourselves to design the very best shoes as we add new styles with more specific uses, ie. trail or racing.

Q: Is there anything else that you think our readers should know about the Form or SKORA running?

We also offer the BASE style, all mesh-synthetic. Comes in a little lighter at 7.9oz and features a laceless design. Only $125.

1 Comment

Sean May 23, 2012 at 10:33 am

I’d like to know why Skora, and many if not all other minimalist shoe makers, persist in lasting the shoe so that the toe curls upwards. If you are walking or running, at some point the toe, forefoot and heel are all in contact with the ground. Indeed, if you just stand upright in your bare feet and look down, you will see all these three points are in a flattened position to the floor. If a shoe is lasted upwards at the toe (so that it fits the foot when it is at rest in the air), then that shoe acts AGAINST the foot when it tries tries to flatten out. Surely it is because of shoes acting against the natural foot movement that we have injuries.

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