It was bound to happen sooner or later. There's been a rash of lawsuits against "toning" sneaker companies who make all sorts of various health claims that turn out to be false (see: Reebok and Skechers), and now those very weird-looking Vibram FiveFinger shoes are in the legal spotlight.
All aesthetic considerations aside (I shudder when I see someone wearing them, especially on the subway), questions are being raised about some of the claims the company has made about the shoes. According to WWD, Valerie Bezdek filed a class action lawsuit against the company, and "takes issue with Vibram’s claim that 'scientific research' shows that their FiveFingers shoes, which range from about $80 to $125 per pair, will provide 'all the health benefits of barefoot running' to anyone who runs in them and that traditional running shoes do not provide such health benefits." Bendek's suit states that the claims aren't proven, and provided a statement from the American Podiatric Medical Association (aka foot doctors) which says that indeed, benefits of so-called barefoot running haven't been proven: "Research has not yet adequately shed light on the immediate and long-term effects of this practice."
Vibram issued a response to the suit, and said in this statement to WWD:
“As with any innovation that ignores conventional thinking, there will always be some skepticism. Vibram’s FiveFingers footwear is no different. For years now, consumers, amateur athletes and even professional athletes using FiveFingers have chosen to share their success stories with the broader community. As a result, Vibram has seen an enthusiastic and health-conscious fan base grow and flourish.”
The company plans to "fully defend the lawsuit." Do you think they have a bare-footed leg to stand on?