Xero Glenn Shoe: Natural Comfort and Dress Code Versatility?

In this hands-on review of the Xero Glenn Shoe, I test its supposed ability to be dressed up, as well as its natural, minimalist shoe construction.

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I was hesitant at first, but I’ve really come around to the minimal and barefoot shoe movement. This round-up of some of my favorite models is proof — check it out when you’re done here!

I’m still aesthetically opposed to the five-toe model, but I get it. They’re more natural and stimulate foot and leg muscles in a beneficial way.

That’s why the Xero Glenn Shoe caught my eye. A lot of these functional minimal and barefoot models are purely functional. You can’t wear them to work, at least not if you work in an office. And some of you may be, as I am, just not that into the look of it.

The Glenn is a minimal shoe that offers the natural comfort technology Xero is known for. However, it’s injected with some dress shoe design cues for added versatility.

I’ve been wearing these shoes for weeks now. Here are my thoughts.

Xero Shoes: A Little Bit About the Brand

Xero Shoes is a Colorado-based brand founded by husband and wife team, Steven Sashen and Lena Phoenix. They’ve been around since 2009 and appeared on Shark Tank on ABC in 2013.

The point of their products is to provide a more natural relationship between your feet and the ground. In fact, their first product was a sort of makeshift sandal consisting of a simple rubber sole and laces.

Sashen got into sprinting and experienced constant injuries. Sprinting barefoot eliminated injuries (inspired to do so by the science from Born to Run).

Today, they offer a range of shoes featuring minimal, comfort-focused, and natural-feel soles. This includes sandals, boots, a DIY kit that allows you to make your own sandals, and a “formal” shoe, which I’ll be reviewing now.

The Xero Glenn Shoe: Hands-on Review

I received the Glenn in a size 8. I usually wear an 8 or 8.5, but I figure since this shoe has a wide toe box, sizing up might leave too much room.

I chose the brown colorway, which features a white outsole that’s visible from the side.

The packaging is straightforward, like the shoes, with packing paper inside to ensure safe shipping.

The Xero Glenn: Comfort and Fit

This shoe was comfortable right out of the box. I expected that to be the case, but there were some things I needed to get used to. 

The Insole

When I first took the shoe out of the box, I was a bit concerned about the insole. It looks and feels like a squishy foam material. I thought the point was to ensure a barely there relationship between the floor and my feet.

However, upon putting them on, they didn’t feel particularly squishy. And as I walked around the house, they got less and less so.

It felt a bit like my indoor moccasin, minus the moccasin’s pile interior. And by that, I mean the barrier between my foot and the floor was quite thin. 

It definitely achieves the brand’s promise in that sense. It was thin enough that it didn’t have traditional arch support, and I could feel the terrain beneath me. But, it offered just enough athletic protection that stepping on my nephew’s legos didn’t feel like Medieval torture. Trust me — I accidentally tested that out.

The Outsole

These shoes are equipped with Xero’s FeelTrue outsoles.

I find it quite remarkable that I’m able to blend and move my foot with full mobility despite the fact these are technically derby shoes. It really does give you a more natural sense of motion.

The bottoms also have a slight tread. So, it’s like running barefoot but with protection and traction. Upon testing, while running, I actually found it easier to switch direction in these shoes than in my regular runners.

Suffice it to say, these are really easy to run in, though it took me a few wears to figure out how to do so.

Sizing and Fit 

The product description mentions that this shoe fits true to size, so again, I went with my size 8.

On my first day wearing these shoes, I walked around the house for an hour. Then, I took a good three-hour walk which included a good mix of concrete sidewalks, grass, and even some dirt in the park.

By the end of this, I noticed that my front toe and back ankle were sore. It’s very possible that I should’ve ordered an 8.5. However, the next day, all of that was gone.

So perhaps this was a sort of mini break-in? These very temporary issues were never obvious when I wore them.

Eventually, I was able to run in these, with pretty decent form too. And this is despite the fact the uppers are literally nubuck leather. As with any leather shoes, my feet were warmer than if I were truly barefoot, but I was impressed with the breathability nonetheless.

I’m sure part of this has to do with the wide toe box. It doesn’t squeeze your toes together like a highly formal Oxford shoe would. Between that and the overall low design, you maintain your natural balance and agility.

The Xero Glenn: Design and Style

The product description refers to this design as a classic Oxford. However, and this might be splitting hairs for most, it’s actually a derby.

Still, a derby design makes a lot more sense. And it helps the entire look come together cohesively.

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The open lacing system looks less stuffy than a true Oxford’s closed lacing. The latter design would definitely look too high-low with the rubber outsole.

All that to say, this is definitely a versatile shoe. To be honest, I wasn’t quite convinced of that when I first saw them right out of the box. I thought they looked great, but I couldn’t see them in business casual situations. This is why it’s important to actually style shoes instead of judging them out of context.

Good thing the product page on the website has convincing examples of ways to style them.

They add a cool factor to a chino-dress shirt combination, go beautifully with shorts or pants, and even look natural with joggers and a henley.

I personally could never wear them to my overly formal office job. However, I could definitely wear them on casual Fridays and instances I pop in on weekends. I think they’d be fine in most office environments these days though.

I walk to and from work. So, I keep my traditional Oxfords in my bag and wear the Glenns as my commuter shoes since they don’t look out-of-place with my suit outside of my office.

Remarkably, the full-grain nubuck upper (which is water-repellant), started to really take the shape of my foot. This is about three weeks in, by the way. I’ve never had a derby upper do that.

Xero Glenn: Are They For You?

The Glenn is a versatile casual shoe that can be worn in smart casual situations, business casual situations, and even certain everyday office contexts. That’s a wide range. Even more, it offers excellent comfort and a barefoot-style relationship between your foot and the ground.

I did extra research to see how people who’ve worn Xero for much longer than I have fared.

The reviews are generally positive. However, as always, there are a few critiques. I saw some instances of certain models not meeting their mileage promise. Impressively, Xero reps tended to respond to these concerns directly.

Plus, Xero replaces products for 60% off if the outsoles wear down to less than 1mm thick at the ball or heel of the foot (it’s all in their warranty).

Still, I’m not that worried about this being an issue with the Glenn. 

I’d wear it as a stylish yet functional everyday shoe, not so much as an athletic shoe. However, if I’m ever faced with an impromptu run or random high-impact activity, I know these shoes will be more than enough.

Questions? Comments? Leave them below!

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