Sneakers belong to one of two categories: the kind you wear to run, and the kind you wear to look good. Until these Fulcrum Stars from Karhu came along, I didn’t have any sneakers that could keep one foot in each camp (as it were). In the interest of full disclosure, Karhu gave me this pair to review. But trust me, if I hadn't liked them, I wouldn't be posting about them. I honestly think they are a great pair of shoes, and I'll tell you why.
But before I do, a bit about my personal history with Karhu. I grew up in Lincoln, MA, a town 25 minutes outside of Boston (and the town I happen to be in right now as I write this). My family’s house here sits on a piece of land with a field and a pond, and we’re surrounded by miles and miles of conservation land with a network of lovely trails. Since I can remember, the minute enough snow accumulates each winter, my parents and I have strapped on our Karhu cross-country skis and zoomed through the woods (sadly, we didn’t get to put our skis on once this winter). I was surprised to learn that Karhu started out making shoes, and was thrilled when they offered to send me a pair of them since I’ve had such positive previous experiences with the brand (more after the jump).
Developed in 1986, these sneaks were built for the competitive runner, and they haven’t changed since then. Karhu markets them as part of their “originals” line, and they still have that wonderful ‘80s look; bold colors with nice lines that don’t look space-agey like most modern sneakers. They’ve also got what Karhu calls “Fulcrum Technology." From their website: "Fulcrum Technology is a triangular, hard compressed part [that] allowed the foot to roll effectively through the stand phase. The Fulcrum component was engineered to allow your feet to move through natural path as fast and as safely as possible." The Fulcrum component was tested at some smart-sounding Nordic university, so you know it’s legit. And when I walked in them, I noticed that the shoes did rock my foot forward more than my standard running shoes.
But I think they’re too good-looking to run in. I’d prefer to stick to my Vibrams and Asics for working out and wear these as casual shoes with jeans or a sporty outfit. Part of the Fulcrum Stars’ appeal is that they don’t look overly masculine or overly feminine—they have a unisex vibe that I’m really into. I therefore thought that a “borrowed from the boys” look would be a good way to style them. I paired them with my Current/Elliot Boyfriend Jeans, a James Perse tee, a Hi-Line sweatshirt from Madewell, and a Steven Alan jacket.
I’m also thrilled to report that Karhu’s North American Division is in Beverly, MA. I love finding local businesses with great products, especially since so many of the designers and brands I like are based in NYC (duh, it’s fashion central). A fair amount of sporty footwear brands are based in MA, like Puma and Converse, and I’m glad that Karhu is among them. Hopefully I’ll get to visit headquarters and see where the magic happens.
Shoes that I can walk in comfortably are hugely important to me. I can’t stand flats that give me blisters, and I only wear heels if I know the number of steps required will be minimal (though I’ve been known to suck it up and strap them on). These Fulcrum Stars surpassed my comfort criteria and made my feet look retro and stylish; I can’t wait to wear them for a stroll around Cambridge this weekend!
Also, be sure to check out the other Karhu Originals stuff—it’s all really great looking. I love the line because it looks like the old hats and jackets that my dad wore on our great skis and fun outings we'd go on when I was growing up. I'm pretty sure he still has a lot of it, but that's for a different post, because they deserve their own images and words.
Besides the Fulcrum Stars, here are two of my favorite Karhu Originals products:
Sidenote: while I was photographing the outfit, Rosie the Dog got very interested. She patiently sat next to the clothes while I took pictures, but the moment I put the camera down, she was all over them. Just thought I'd give you a behind-the-scenes look at some of the struggles I face as a blogger. It's a hard life. At least her paws were relatively clean.