Horse people have been working towards this for years.
Interesting thing is we are finding out that horses don't need shoes even the ones who work on concrete and asphalt every day.
So hey why not people too?
I had my Morgan mare for 21 years (she was 8 when I got her, and had been greenbroke and unshod on pasture all her life till then), and the first couple years I had her, I kept her shod, used boriums and rubber in the winter, and the farrier trimmed and re-set every 8 weeks. She was strictly a trail horse, but had to travel on pavement to get to the trails and back. I always had to pay careful attention to her feet to make sure she wasn't getting any fungal infections or other nasties under those shoes -- especially the winter rubber pads -- and that she wasn't picking up pebbles between hoof and shoe. Then there was the danger of snagging a shoe on a root or rock and having the metal twisted -- which can lead to terrible injuries to the horse.
That last thing did eventually happen - she snagged a shoe when we were in the woods. It was so twisted she couldn't walk on it, so I had to pull the shoe and walk at her side 5 miles home. I was surprised to see that her unshod hoof was no worse for the wear after that, so instead of replacing the missing shoe I had the farrier pull the other 3. We never went back to shoes after that, even in winter - just had the farrier trim on schedule. She never had a problem all the rest of her life. No thrush, no splits, no leg problems.
As for humans' shoes, I do think that they typically do not conform to the foot or even the human body in a natural way; rather, they force the foot to fit the shoe, and they affect posture, stance and how weight and force are distributed.
So, the 5-toe minimalist shoes that are hitting the markets now might be a real departure from the way people have thought about footwear for centuries. I'll be interested to see whether this is a fad or an enduring trend. Janet is one of the "foot" soldiers who will advance the front line for the trend.
P.S. Phi, Janet didn't say she only had 3 pairs of shoes; she said she had only 3 pairs of shoes she could wear