This spring Merrell will take the ample lessons learned from their successful Barefoot Trail Glove shoe and apply them to a new line. Dubbed the M-Connect, this series will carry across four key collections (including the Barefoot) to provide minimalist, all-natural fit in fast, flexible designs that cater to the needs of outdoor exercise, from trail running to hiking to aquatic environs. We’re particularly interested in the new multi-hike Proterra line, whose designs originated from insights gleaned from the University of Virginia’s SPEED Performance Clinic and Motion Analysis Lab. Their studies indicate that greater surface contact with the ground improves overall performance. These fast, breathable hiking shoes and boots will have a modest 4mm drop, inverted lugs, a wider mid-foot, and will employ a new technology that infuses the foot cage and the mesh uppers to allow for lightweight, natural movement without sacrificing durability. Other shoes in the M-Connect line include Mix-Master 2, with 4mm drop and 12 to 8mm of cushion and the Bare Access (zero drop, 8mm of cushion).
Merrell will also introduce the Bazaar collection in spring 2013, a group of laid-back, go-anywhere shoes and sandals for men and women that incorporate vibrant fabrics akin to those found in the markets of the world. The evocative line should make for a solid pair of travel shoes, and will likely pair nicely with the continuation of their apparel line, which brings performance-oriented technology into urban, travel friendly designs. We love the looks of the women’s Hawthorne, a poly, DWR-treated jacket with a pleated back for cycle-friendly application, and the Aquatia, a fully-seamed waterproof/breathable jacket with a femme-yet-functional cut and a heathered exterior. The men’s line will mirror this form-function merge, including the commute-friendly Freewheel Short-Sleeved Shirt, the Lake Hood Short, and the streamlined, technical Charlton Shirt. These travel-friendly pieces will be part of the spring 2013 Urban Mobility line, which aim to marry athletic apparel with a touch of style and tech for trail running, hiking, and…pretty much any other active pursuit in which you wear clothes.