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Vibram S.p.A.
FounderVitale Bramani Edit this on Wikidata
ProductsRubber soles, footwear, disc golf discs

Vibram S.p.A. is an Italian company based in Albizzate that both manufactures and licenses the production of Vibram branded rubber outsoles for footwear. The company is named after its founder, Vitale Bramani,[1] who is credited with inventing the first rubber lug. Vibram soles were first used on mountaineering boots, replacing leather soles fitted with hobnails or steel cleats, commonly used up until then.

The soles produced by Vibram are called Vibram soles, Vibram rubber, or simply Vibram.


Detail of original Vibram "Carrarmato" lug sole design with yellow Vibram emblem

In 1935, the deaths of six of Bramani's mountaineering friends in the Italian Alps was partly blamed on inadequate footwear. The tragedy drove Bramani to develop a new climbing sole.[2] Two years later, he patented his invention and launched the first rubber lug soles on the market with a tread design called the "Carrarmato" (i.e. "tank tread"), with the financial backing of Leopoldo Pirelli of Pirelli tires.

The sole was designed to provide excellent traction on the widest range of surfaces, have a high degree of abrasion resistance, and was made using the latest vulcanized rubber of the time. In 1954, the first successful ascent to the summit of K2 was made by an Italian expedition, wearing Vibram rubber on their soles.


Today, Vibram soles are manufactured in Brazil, China, Italy, the Czech Republic and the United States, and are used by more than 1,000 footwear manufacturers in their footwear products.[3] Vibram is well known for pioneering the barefoot running movement with the FiveFingers line of shoes, which mimic the look and mechanics of being barefoot.[4][non-primary source needed]

In the United States, Vibram soling products are manufactured under exclusive license by Quabaug Corporation of North Brookfield, Massachusetts. Although the brand is best known among the outdoor and mountaineering community, Vibram produces numerous models of soles specifically designed for fashion, military, rescue, law enforcement or industrial use. Vibram also produces soles used exclusively for footwear resoling.

Vibram also produces a line of discs for the sport of disc golf, although they announced in August 2018 their exit from supporting the sport.[5] They have released several putters and fairway drivers. Vibram soles were also used as a product placement for Bee Movie, which was released in October 2007.


In April 2012, a lawsuit was filed against Vibram over claims made about their Vibram FiveFingers minimalist shoe. Vibram claimed that the shoe "reduce[s] foot injuries and strengthen[s] foot muscles." A controlled study published in July 2013 showed that the risk of bone marrow edema among new wearers was actually increased, during their respective periods of transition to minimalist shoes.[6]

While Vibram has, according to court papers, "expressly" denied "any actual or potential fault…or liability,” on May 7, 2014, it was announced that the company has moved to settle the suit, and agreed to set aside $3.75 million to pay refunds of up to $94 to anyone who had purchased the product since March 21, 2009.[7]


  1. ^ Roots Archived May 18, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Inventor of the Week: Archive". Archived from the original on 2008-04-24. Retrieved 2010-06-14.
  3. ^ Facts & Figures Archived August 25, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "FiveFingers". Vibram. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
  5. ^ "Vibram Shutting Down Disc Manufacturing". Ultiworld. Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  6. ^ Ridge, ST; Johnson, AW; Mitchell, UH; Hunter, I; Robinson, E; Rich, BS; Brown, SD (July 2013). "Foot bone marrow edema after a 10-wk transition to minimalist running shoes". Med Sci Sports Exerc. 45 (7): 1363–8. doi:10.1249/MSS.0b013e3182874769. PMID 23439417.
  7. ^ Lenny Bernstein (May 8, 2014). "People who bought these Vibram FiveFinger shoes may be entitled to a refund". Washington Post. Retrieved May 8, 2014.

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