JJF's New Shoes Are 10,000 Years In The Making - Stab Mag
Photos by Arto Saari

JJF’s New Shoes Are 10,000 Years In The Making

John Florence signs with Vivobarefoot.

style // Aug 15, 2023
Words by Corina Stephens
Reading Time: 4 minutes

In partnership with Vivobarefoot.

Pop Quiz: Which of the following statements are true of John John Florence?

A. He has a high-level IQ
B. His middle name is not, in fact, “John”
C. He’s a nudist
D. All of the above

Probably pondering Pythagorean theorem. Or plate lunch.

Did you guess B? If you did, you would be correct. But if you chose any A, C, or D, you would also be correct.

Actually, I was unable to confirm JJF’s intelligence quotient but I truly don’t believe that a person becomes one of the most successful surfers to ever stroke into a wave by sheer luck, or sheer luck mixed with genetic fortune. Or even sheer luck, genetic fortune, and skill all in one charmed package. You become one of the most phenomenal, respected, and undisputedly great athletes of our time by having incredibly high standards – for yourself and for those with whom you associate.

Also known as smarts.

Keeping good company.

Secondly, his middle name is Alexander, ya dodos. 

JAF, if you please.

Finally – and this is true and affirmed by the naturalist himself – John Florence likes to go completely bare… footed, that is. Of course, it’s unsurprising that someone raised a coconut’s throw from the ocean would spend 99% of their time unshod. What is noteworthy, however, is that JAF hasn’t slapped a shoe-shaped logo on a board since leaving Vans in the mid-twenty-teens.

John’s spent the majority of his 30 years outside. In doing so, he’s developed a keen intelligence of the natural world with an attunement that extends to the human body. The divine evolution of which, thanks to epoch’s of Darwinism, leaves us with the fine-tuned machines known colloquially as feet.

Boards in hand, Vivo underfoot.

Incredibly tough and useful tools, our lower appendages are designed to adapt to all manner of movement and surfaces. Unfortunately, the modern invention of shoes confines our feet, leaving them weak, soft, and very, very white. And if anyone should appreciate the importance of foot health and its impact on performance, it’s surfers (unlike skaters, the nevernudes of the footwear world).

With this knowledge and his preference for nude-footedness, it would make sense why John might have chosen not to promote the foot-cages that have become so ubiquitous in modern society. It took the arrival of a new kind of shoe company to change that.

The next best thing to nudity.

2023 marks the beginning of a multi-year partnership between John John Florence and UK-based footwear brand Vivobarefoot. Founded in 2003 and run by cousins and seventh-generation cobbling royalty, Asher and Galahad Clark (yes, those Clarks), it’s safe to say that footbed dynamics are in the company’s blood.

Full disclosure: Calling Vivobarefoot a ‘footwear brand’ feels disingenuous, as it’s basically the antithesis of their appeal. Drawing on a hybrid of ancient human physiology and modern technologies, the Vivo team has reimagined and refined every step of the footwear process – from design, to manufacturing, to the product’s end of life – creating a closed-loop system and solving essentially every issue in an otherwise wasteful industry.

And the end product strengthens your feet, rather than squashing them.

Similar to the argument that surfing is more a lifestyle than a sport, Vivo’s footprint goes beyond that of its carefully-designed product. B-Corp certification, a regenerative product-return program, numerous forays into humanitarian causes, and a vast library of resources and multimedia educational offerings are just a few of the flanking efforts the company has built into its (rather toned) core.

Shoes for those who’d rather not wear shoes.

With this partnership, John John joins a growing list of other well-respected athletes, doctors, training experts, and cultural notables who look to live beyond the norm, seeking optimal personal health and performance, and teaming with allies that support that goal.

The first in a series of collaborative collections, this summer sees the inaugural JJF x Vivobarefoot capsule, featuring four versatile styles. Each designed to support a different aspect of active living – and prices ranging from $120 to $235 USD – the capsule covers all the needs of an active lifestyle without blocking the benefits of the foot-to-earth connection.

John John wearing the Tracker Decon, one of four styles comprising his Vivo capsule.

“I wanted to partner with VIVO because we embody similar views,” John says. “Getting outdoors in a minimalistic, non invasive way. I’ve always lived a barefoot lifestyle when possible, and VIVO shoes allow me to continue that lifestyle even more so. I’m proud of the line we created together, it’s great to be able to offer solutions for different ways of getting out there.”

Where evolutionary intelligence meets cutting-edge technology.

If John’s gear-based track record is anything to take into account, we’ll soon be seeing these not-quite-shoes in beachside carparks all around the world.

Case in point: how many hooded rash guards have you seen in the lineup lately?


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