I love it when a surprise invention comes out of the woodwork and against all odds revolutionizes the very core of your existence. Such has been my experience over the last 13 months, as I’ve watched myself transition from high-top sneakers, frye boots, dress shoes, and birkenstocks to fulltime sockwa wearing. Confessionally speaking, right now I’m in the process of jettisoning all my cotton socks and almost all of my former shoes in favor of amassing an even larger collection of sockwas. I couldn’t be more excited! Sockwas are an all-in-one hybrid solution–perfect for my budget, perfect for all my activities, and perfect for all my health agendas.

Now that lead designer/CEO David Zasloff (aka The Zaz) has blown us away with his distinctive color choices for 2011, I find myself mixing and matching my wardrobe in anticipation of the new, upcoming line. I’m no model, but if part of this revolution requires that I turn heads with my sockwa outfits, I’ll be damned if I’m not ready to become everyone’s favorite Zoolander. Ben Stiller, eat your heart out: The four corners of the earth have suddenly metamorphosed into my personal project runway.

I guess I’m far vainer than I realized, or at the very least more of a flaunter than I used to be. I mean, whoever thought that sockwas would revitalize the fashionista in me? To be clear, I definitely didn’t see this one coming, but as soon as I realized I could improve certain necktie/suit outfits with the right Sockwa, I grew obsessed. In all seriousness, though, the fact that I can execute the philosophy of Christopher MacDougal (‘Born to run’) in grand, but by no means ostentatious style has brought me relief. After all, it’s difficult to justify guinea pigging an alternative choice of footwear, if you can’t get it to work with the rest of your wardrobe, right? Vibram Five Fingers is destined to have this problem of fashion incompatibility, but Sockwa, I can assure you, won’t. Zas’ refined eye for color and line design has made it impossible for that potential worry to take root. Indeed, I count Zas as one of a rare breed of artist-engineers capable of balancing functionality and aesthetics into the right brew. He is a new archetype, cut from the same cloth as the likes of Andrew Stern and Michael Matteas–two maverick inventors from the interactive gaming industry I admire a great deal.

In any event, speaking of Mr. MacDougal, ‘Born to Run’ has become bedside reading for numerous folks, both athletes and non-athletes. The health benefits of barefoot simulation (through minimalist footwear design) are being documented and proven as we speak, so much so that the phenomenon has suddenly gone mainstream. MacDougal has convincingly demonstrated that “the reason we have problems is because we muffle our feet–we bury them in so much cushioning and padding that they can’t get in touch with the world, or with us….”

David Zasloff, Adam Gleicher, Danielle Lourie, Dean Klotz, and I (and the rest of the Sockwa Team) are determined to change all that. Now that the technology has been developed to an advanced degree, we are determined to break free of the 20th Century paradigm of a bulky, overjello-ed shoe and its attendant, requisite cotton sock.

Zas really does believe that if you free your feet first, your mind will follow. At the risk of sounding too self-assured, I truly believe I’m living proof that he’s right. Now that I’m virtually a fulltime sockwa wearer, I feel like a brand new species of man. In bringing my feet closer to the earth, the sockwa has grounded my being in such a way as to make me feel less hurried, less perturbable, and less stuck in my head. It’s as if I have linked myself up with a new metronome, one far more musically rhythmic than what I used to keep time to…

Perhaps I’m sounding new agey or too abstract. You’ll have to try a sockwa for yourself, experience the four corners of the earth anew (or at the very least, disparate terrains in your residential area), and judge for yourself. Personally, I love the flab-free, cushion-free sensuality of impacting the ground with the balls of my feet, knowing that my entire physical body is being strengthened in the process. The unique Sockwa sole technology yields up the best of both worlds–not only true protection from the ruthlessness of certain topographies but also a comforting, yet strengthening sensation of ‘earthy contact,’ one which keeps you coming back for more. The result, my friends, is as close to a perfect case of ‘wu wei’ as it gets. ‘Wu wei what?,’ you ask…

Wu wei, or ‘effortless effort,’ is a Taoist concept which best describes the euphoria I associate with Sockwa wearing and sockwa activity. In a recent Fortune magazine article, ‘wu wei’ was beautifully described as follows:

“Wu wei (the state of effortless effort) describes a state in which the world seems to be working for us. We feel calm yet alert, focused yet receptive, drawing force from the storm while standing in its eye. Like the marathoner who feels pulled forward, we accomplish the most with the minimum of energy. In this state hard work does not feel like hard labor. Nor does it feel like play. It feels a lot like the Aristotelian concept of doing. Edison and his researchers felt it at Menlo Park. They didn’t get much sleep, but many would later look back at the periods as the happiest of their lives. “There is no substitute for hard work,” Edison said. And indeed, we go rotten without it.”
It remains our goal at Sockwa Inc. to make footwear which will enable you to experience ‘wu wei’ much more often than you previously have….The road to true widespread success will be long and arduous, but with constructive feedback from you along the way, we will invariably succeed.

Thank you for reading. Please stay tuned for my next post and the story of my first encounter with sockwas.

Stan Paik
Brand Manager, SOCKWA Inc.

David Zasloff