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The new Xero Zelen casual athletic sneaker is already getting great feedback from the minimal shoe community!
Made from eco-friendly biodegradable and recycled materials, they have a casual style but will perform well in athletic pursuits, too.
Check out the Zelen in women's sizing here, and men's sizing here. If you're converting between the two sizing systems, Xero tends to have a 1.5 size difference between them. For eg. a men's 8 is usually the same length as a women's 9.5 in the same model, however the men's will be higher volume (larger in width and height compared to the length).
At first we believed the Zelen's fit to be exactly the same as Xero's popular HFS model, but based on research and feedback from our customers, it seems that the fit is actually a bit more generous than the HFS.
Perhaps Xero has used different dimensions for the Zelen, maybe it's the Zelen's smaller toecap that makes more of the stretch and flex of its uppers material available, or perhaps it's just that the uppers materials themselves are different between the two models. We're not sure why, just that this is a consistent experience when trying them on.
In terms of sizing Xero recommends ordering your usual size, but we find those with wide feet or a square foot shape may need a half size up. The toecap doesn't stretch out lengthwise for the Zelen so you'll want to make sure your toes aren't touching the front of the shoe even when you stand, walk, and lunge. "Extra" room in front of your toes is recommended so that you can access your fullest range of motion in this and all of our shoes.
We've seen four of the five colourways so far and they look fantastic for everyday wear, each with an overall neutral colour and an accent colour; the colour combinations are reminiscent of some classic sneaker designs.
In terms of the functionality, the Zelen has a more barefoot feeling than the Prio, and about the same amount as the HFS. The Zelen has a very soft and flexible uppers material, too.
The combination of that breathable and movement-friendly material with a near-barefoot groundfeel makes it perfect for exercise in places where going barefoot isn't possible (such as in gyms with shoe policies).
It's made as a road running shoe but you can wear them anywhere you'd like a casual looking very barefoot feeling fit. The style is less athletic in design than the HFS, especially in that it does not feature reflective bands. As they're so lightweight they'll be great for travelling!
Here are some of our experiences with the Zelen:
Brody says the Zelens are a great choice for a running or gym shoe due to their wide but secure fit. For him the sole gives good groundfeel without being too thin, striking a nice balance of feedback, and comfort. He loves how flexible the Zelen is which will help achieve a firm stance while allowing for a lot of movement. Brody would wear them for weightlifting, calisthenics at the park, or as a lightweight running or walking shoe
Tiffany loves the look of the Zelen colourway in Cloud/Porcelain Blue. It has a retro feel and adds a pop of colour to her spring wardrobe. She would wear them with a pair of slouchy jeans and a cozy sweatshirt for when she's heading to the local coffee shop for a Saturday morning cup of joe.
Ivan is trying to wear less black to get out of his comfort zone, so he likes the White & Blue colour Zelen for this summer. He'd pair them with shorts and t-shirt for a fun outing enjoying the neighbourhood with his dog and family.
Hannah has square feet of average volume and average to wide width, and tends to take a 41, or W9.5. She found she needed the size W10 for the Zelen to accommodate the longer outer toes of her square foot shape, and the men's sizing gave her even more width for toe splay. She likes them as a casual everyday walking shoe with lots of barefoot feeling.
You may also enjoy Anya's Reviews article on the Zelen here! If you're not sure what your foot shape or volume is, she's the go-to resource in the community.