We often run into products that not only have to be seen, but must be put to the test to be believed. For our series Tried and True, we suss out trending goods & services, and take them for an honest-to-goodness spin IRL to find out if they're up to snuff.
The Specs: The sustainable comfort-focused direct-to-consumer brand Allbirds launched these fabric flats earlier this year in response to fanatic customer demand for an office-friendly style. They’re made from the brand’s signature eco-friendly materials: a sugarcane-derived outsole, merino wool insole, and eucalyptus-tree fiber upper.
The Pros: I guarantee that you will experience an endorphin rush when putting these flats on for the first time — the soft, super-cushiony merino wool soles are no freaking joke, and certainly the most padded out of all of these minimally supportive shoes. (The brand calls them “bouncy.”) Given everything I’d read about Allbirds, I had really high expectation for the comfort of these, and was surprised that they felt quite snug when I put them on — more like shoe shapewear than a shoe bra, according to my notes. My surprise turned to disappointment after a few days when my feet started to feel uncomfortably constricted. But I found out that you’ve got to give these "Breezers" time — with a few more wears, they relaxed and started to feel — what’s the scientific term? — fucking amazing. Aesthetically, they were not my personal favorite, but I’d definitely recommend these flats to anyone who likes the cut of their jib; both based on their environmentally friendly properties and what turned out be, as promised, superior comfort.
The Takeaway: Given a few days to stretch out, these shoes will conform to your foot for a supremely comfortable fit; the cozy, foot-soothing sole is an added dose of self-care.
The Specs: Everlane’s signature ReKnit fabric was made from recycled plastic bottles, and lends a lighter, more casual quality to their existing all-leather Day Glove style.
The Specs: Feel good about buying these shoes! Rothy’s yarn is made from recycled PET plastics — over 37 million bottles to date, according to the brand — with a waste-reducing knitting process. They make five different styles out of this proprietary process — a round toe ballet flat; a fuller-coverage loafer; a slip-on style sneaker, a just-launched Chelsea-style boot; and The Point, which is the silhouette that we ultimately tested.
The Takeaway: A well made, well-designed, rigorously sustainable option that can take a beating from the elements without losing its integrity. It's also the most feminine-looking of the bunch, if that's your thing.
The Takeaway: An affordable and perfectly adequate option for someone who needs an inexpensive, crushable flat for commuting.
The Specs: Made entirely from Italian leather, each of these premium flats takes about three days to construct, and has a unique split sole design that allows them to fold in half. They also come with little sleeper pouches for clean and neat storage when thrown in your handbag. Social good bonus: they’re affiliated with the Gavrieli Foundation, which supports women entrepreneurs around the globe through Kiva.
The Pros: OK, why would I do this shoe the disservice of presenting it on the internet bent in half? Hear me out — such is the beauty of Tieks. The bifurcated (and, for some reason, always turquoise) soles enable the shoe to fold double, allowing the heel-obligated among us to collapse their commuter footwear into a compact bundle once they've arrived at the office. (I don’t personally have this need, but I imagine it’s a godsend for some.) The collar is fully elasticized to accommodate different foot shapes and gave me no discomfort whatsoever. The all-leather construction felt really good on my feet and, like the Everlane shoes, were actually more breathable than some of the fiber options. In terms of style, they are probably the most traditional — this is a classic, no-frills ballet flat in the truest sense.