A New Sole for Our Soul

It has been a couple of months since we last connected with you. Longer delays and uncertainties made us ready to sell our souls at one point, but the waiting is behind us. And, for the first time, we have most of the difficulties solved all at once. In this present edition, we are telling you what “boiled” for so long with a special note from our shoemaker and CEO, Olie Marchal. Read on!



We’ve been whispering in our past newsletters about changes on the horizon for SOM Footwear. After listening to our customers, doing a lot of testing and brainstorming, it is exciting to officially unveil our new SOM soles.

SOM Sole

We’ve been waiting for a pre-made sole to be included in our manufacturing process since our beginning. For those of you who have had a chance to tour the factory, you know how arduous the two-step process of the Vibram sole was. On top of the fact that the new SOM sole is entirely made in USA, we are thrilled to announce that the tests show more durability in the wear, and more flexibility that increases the comfort of our SOMs.  
Here is a little note from our shoemaker:

At SOM footwear we prioritize, among other things, quality.

There is one thing I do as much as I can: personally test any new model of shoes or any changes or additions we make to our shoes. A major improvement we recently made is our new custom outsoles. It took almost a year to come up with a product we like and believe our customers will like too!

Last June I flew to Missouri to meet with the company who now makes our SOM soles. Together we came up with an attractive first design which would add more flexibility and comfort to our shoes. After we all agreed on the specific model of sole, we had a mold made and a few samples in size 9 produced so that I could put them to the test. After some time the results were not to my expectations. The comfort was there, even though I found the sole a little bit too soft. The grip was good, but the wear was far from being acceptable. What a frustration!

After debating and deeply exploring our options, I came to the conclusion we had to start over!

I flew back to Missouri and we re-worked the entire bottom design. We made a new mold and some new samples for testing.

So I made myself a pair of shoes with the first prototype of sole on the left foot and the second prototype on the right foot. I wore those shoes for 6 months every single day and for every activity. These were my only pair of shoes for 6 months. I wore them at work, to run, to crossfit, to hike volcanoes in Guatemala, to do some remodeling at my house (new siding), to do some welding (I still enjoy building stuff with metal), and to go out - which was a bit embarrassing towards the end because they started to look abused (but you have to do what you have to do, right?).

As you can see from the pictures, the upper held up pretty well. You can see some melted spots on the toe box which had been caused by welding sparks. I had to stitch the side of the sole because I didn't use the right glue at that time. Don't worry! The glue we now use is the right one, and bonds very well!

Olie's test driver

Here's the verdict: After 6 months of abuse I still have some good tread at the ball of the foot on our second prototype (right foot) which is very good for a guy like me who has a tendency to wear soles out fast. For example, the VIBRAM sole would rarely last me more than 3 months. On the left shoe the treads are completely gone and you can see a small crack at the heel.

Sole test drive of Olie
I am pretty confident our customers will enjoy this major improvement in terms of wear, flexibility, comfort, and overall look. However, there is always room to do better and any constructive criticism and comments you may have are always welcome. It helps us constantly improve our product and serve our customers -- you -- better!

Please note that the SOM sole isn’t yet available in the following sizes: Men 4 (5.5 Women), Men 15 and 16. We hope to get there in a year.

* The process of resoling our older models will not change--the VIBRAM sole will still be used. Due to the design of the old soles, we are unable to use the new SOM sole for resoling.  


Along with the new soles, our creative shoemaker and seamstresses have new design changes to present to you. We now offer a new look for the Norwood Black and Sage. A nice edge finish makes them look sharper and trendier. We also reduced the rubber band around the foot for a lighter look. The Flare has given some troubles with the new add-on, and we haven’t found a solution yet. Until that is resolved, we are offering the Flare in 100% cotton black canvas.


With creativity and excitement in the air, we also have two new models to introduce. Navy Blue Classic and Briquette feature a 100% cotton canvas perfect for the warmer months. Great looking shoes offering that very nice edge finish paired with our new SOM soles!  Navy Blue Classic’s design is detailed with grey stitching and laces. Briquette is a grey canvas model accented with more color--your choice of Red, Purple or Blue stitching and grey laces. For an even brighter look, you can order extra sets of lively colorful laces to mix or match with the stitching color.

Navy Blue Classic
Briquette in red

And maybe there is something else we are about to tell you...sooner than later we promise.


SnapLaces made in USA are always a great addition to any shoe! No-tie shoelaces transform any shoes into your easy on, easy off pair. Check out the different colors we carry!


Whether we are blogging about our interests or discussing our shoes, our blogs come from the heart. Read our most recent blogs with topics from recycling to versatile minimalist shoes. (Click here to get to our blog page)

 Blog snapshot


Brett, your favorite customer service representative since January just announced her coming departure. She is following her heart to be closer to her life companion. She assured us that SOM will stay lively in her heart. We will be keeping an eye open for any opportunities where she may be able to contribute to SOM remotely. We will be introducing to you a new person in the coming weeks.


Do you have questions about making shoes or manufacturing in the US in general?  Reach out to us on Facebook or Twitter (@somfootwear) to ask SOM.  We’ll be happy to answer all of your burning manufacturing questions—unless you are a spy from another shoe company, in which case we know nothing.

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SOM Footwear Factory is located in Montrose, Colorado
Factory outlet store is open Thursdays 9am-5pm | Always open online
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  • These are the best shoes I have ever had. I wear only these shoes for everything I do. I thought all the severe bending and stretching of kung fu might be too much but these shoes have not suffered one bit after 5 months of constant use. The sole is smoothing out in places but that is my fault for exercising on concrete sometimes.

    I plan to buy only these shoes from now on.

    Kerry MacArthur
  • Hello Christian,

    Thank you for your questions.

    We too are happy about our new SOM Sole!

    The new SOM sole is more durable than the Vibram sole. We are still in the early stages of testing resoling for the new SOM Sole.

    Due to the design of the old soles, we are unable to use the new SOM sole for resoling.


    SOM Team - Brett
  • So happy to see the new Norwood and new sole! I see that older models will continue to be re-soled using the Vibram sole. Will the new Norwood be re-sole-able with the new sole or when I send them in would they be re-soled with the vibrate sole?

  • Hello Raynald,

    Thank you! We intend to keep it up! :-)

    SOM Team - Brett
  • Keep the good work!

    Raynald Drolet

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