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JOA barefoot – A New Era of Sneaker Aesthetics

In a world where style often overshadows function, JOA barefoot emerges as a refreshing exception, perfectly blending the two in harmony. This brand from Copenhagen is a welcome innovation in the shoe industry, offering footwear that’s not only kind to your feet but also a boost to your fashion game.

From the first moment of unboxing, it’s clear that there’s something unique about these shoes. The presentation itself, including an extra insole presented with a ribbon, a multipurpose tote bag ideal for anything from library books to grocery shopping, and an additional pair of laces for a tailor-made fit, all hint at the luxurious experience. This meticulous attention to detail and dedication to thoughtful design are what make JOA barefoot sneakers stand out.

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The Story Behind JOA barefoot

The journey of JOA barefoot began in Copenhagen, with a simple yet powerful idea from founder Joakim Pagels. He dreamt of blending the health benefits of barefoot footwear with the clean, sleek look of Scandinavian design. Motivated by his personal journey of overcoming injuries through the therapeutic act of walking barefoot, Joakim created sneakers that marry comfort with aesthetics. Drawing on his Danish roots, he ensured each pair combines timeless style with the freedom of natural movement, proving you don’t have to compromise on style for comfort.

Getting the Right Size and Fit

The JOA barefoot designs veer away from the typical foot-shaped aesthetic common in barefoot shoes, sparking initial curiosity about whether they could genuinely provide the true fit and natural shape associated with barefoot footwear. However, slipping them on cleared up any uncertainties, showcasing JOA barefoot’s unique approach compared to other brands.

Where some brands might tweak their designs to create a narrower, more streamlined appearance at the expense of big toe room, JOA barefoot has taken a different route to meld a more mainstream design with the principles of barefoot shoes.

Their sneakers feature a more pronounced bean shape, creating ample space for the big toe. They’ve cleverly added a bit of extra length near the second and third toes, giving the illusion of a tapered shoe front without cutting back on the essential space needed for toes to spread comfortably. Although their overall width may not be the widest on the market, they are well-suited for:

  • Narrow and medium-width feet
  • Low and average instep height
  • Bean-shaped feet, especially those with the longest second toe or where the first and second toes are of equal length

In their size chart, you’ll find recommended foot lengths for each size. For my foot length of 26.3 cm, the suggested size is 42, which is also what I wear in this review, offering about 10 mm of extra space in front of my toes. If you’re seeking more width or additional space in front of your big toe, sizing up one size is a straightforward solution.

Meet the Models


PHALANX marks the first model to come out of a two-year development process, envisioned as a unisex sneaker with a classic, straightforward, and timeless look. It has been released in four colorways: the essential smooth white leather version and three additional hues—sage green, navy, and sand—in suede leather.

Featuring a 4 mm thick outsole, the shoes have a total stack height of 7 mm, providing a satisfying ground feel with a touch of cushion. They also include an optional set of 3 mm thick insoles for those who prefer a bit more padding, though it’s important to note that using the insoles might make the shoes feel narrower and decrease the overall inside volume (I personally found them too snug with the insoles inserted).

The sneakers are laced with thin, waxed cotton strings, and come with an extra pair of laces in case the originals feel too lengthy. Unlike most sneakers where laces wrap around the ball of the foot, the PHALANX design features laces that start higher up, closer to the toes, and are tied using a straight method rather than the traditional criss-cross.

On my walks, I observed increased creasing in the upper’s middle section, which may not appeal to everyone visually. Switching to the classic criss-cross lacing helped improve the fit for me and minimized the creasing.

Ordering Process

JOA barefoot’s ordering process is streamlined and user-friendly, offering FREE Worldwide Shipping and FREE EXCHANGES within the EU—a significant perk given the rising shipping costs. For orders outside the EU, a flat rate is deducted from refunds, ensuring a hassle-free shopping experience for global customers.

Final Thoughts

JOA barefoot blends style with the natural comfort of barefoot footwear, offering a luxurious unboxing experience and designs that cater to a modern lifestyle. Their attention to detail, from fit to aesthetics, marks them as a standout choice for those seeking both health benefits and style in their stride.

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