Sorry Croc lovers, I've found a shoe that is even uglier! My MBTs are ugly, but they do have great benefits.
I first saw these shoes in Herrington catalog and was intrigued about the story of these shoes. The designer used the Masai people of Africa as his inspiration. The theory stated is that the Masai walk barefoot on shifting, sandy unstable soil therefore their muscles have to work harder to keep them balanced. The muscles get stronger, you walk more erect, and there is less pressure on your joints. These shoes were designed to mimic that walk.
My mom also read about them and decided to purchase a pair. She enjoys walking but has had a hard time finding comfortable walking shoes with good support. When I first saw her shoes, my initial reaction was YUCK! But then I tried them on. Immediately, I could tell that these shoes were different from every other shoe I had ever worn. You have to use lots of muscles to stay stable as the sole has a sort of rocker on the back. The sole also feels a bit "springy" as there is a lot cushioning there as well.
I had read on another site that MBTs were available on Zappos.com. They have a fairly large selection of MBT styles and sizes. Plus, they offer free shipping and free return shipping! I ordered one half size larger than my normal size because many of the reviews stated that you should size up a bit. I'm still trying to decide if I need to go up a full size, but Zappos has a pretty good return/exchange policy if I do need to get a different size. I ordered the Sport High style.
I received my shoes within a few days of ordering and am now wearing them a bit everyday. The site for MBT advises to wear the shoes for short periods of time in the beginning. I'm hoping that once I'm used to them, I'll be using them for daily walks and they will help me to avoid shin splints (the bane of my daily walks). I would not advise trying to use these shoes for running as they are heavier than a regular athletic shoe. The link below takes you to zappos MBT section if you want to experience the "stylishness" that is MBT.
Seriously though, I did not buy these shoes for their looks (unless I was getting together a Frankenstein costume) so I can't to see if my leg muscles and other, er, not so firm areas benefit from wearing these shoes.
Update On May 24, 2008: I've been wearing these to work all week and am finding these shoes to be really comfortable. While I don't walk too much at work, the building is pretty large and I'm on the 3rd floor, so when I taking the stairs can tell a bit of a difference in my muscles working. I hope to be able to get back into my daily walks with these now that the shoes are broken in. I hope I can update again on the shin splints issue.