As much as I love the comfort of wearing sneakers, the variety of brands to choose from leave a lot to be desired sometimes. Don't get me wrong: I am a fan of classic styles from the likes of Nike or Adidas, but there are times when I find myself scanning through everyone's footwear in a room – and we are all wearing the same two or three brands.
For everyday scenarios like going into the office or running errands, I want a pair of shoes that are comfortable to walk in but also add a unique touch to my outfit. That's when SAYE, an up-and-coming vegan shoe brand, entered my shopping radar. It is gaining a lot of traction for its range of retro styles made with vegan materials. And all of it looks pretty comfortable, too.
I decided to try on the Modelo '89 Vegan Beige – one of its bestselling designs – and wore them every day for a week straight. Read on to see if they fit my high standards for an easy, breezy walking shoe that also adds a bit of something something to my look.
You can feel how committed the brand is to zero-waste as soon as you open the shoe box. It's enclosed with a "thank you for your order" note card made of a plantable material embedded with tomato seeds. Once planted, the paper dissolves into the soil, and with some patience (and probably the presence of a green thumb) you'll eventually end up with your very own tomato plant.
A number of recycled materials appear on the composition list: industrial waste has been refashioned into PU leather materials for the upper, discarded fruit and vegetables are utilized for coloring, and reinforcements on the shoe are sourced from recycled thermoplastics and wood chips. For every pair of shoes purchased, the company also funds the planting of two trees through an NGO.
The European sizing fits a bit large for me: I ordered a size 36 that left me with just a bit too much room around my toes (I am normally a US 5.5). However, it didn't cause any discomfort. The shoes had really good cushioning around the sides of my arches – something I don't usually get from my other sneakers – but I personally thought the insoles could have used more foam padding. It did feel like walking on a flat surface, but that is probably not a bad thing for people whose feet are on the flatter side.
One thing I was very happy with was the appearance of the sneakers: they remind me of tennis shoes my parents used to wear back in the '90s, but with a more modern and well-made feel. The cork label on the padded tongue also mimics the kind of details you'd find in designer sneakers.
I also appreciate the off-white color, which goes well with the warmer, saturated tones in my wardrobe, and looks great with a pair of simple blue jeans. Plus, unlike stark white, they won't show every smudge and stain that city life often wrecks on white shoes. The rubber outsoles come in a slightly deeper caramel – a big plus when it comes to making scruff marks look less obvious. The only area where I would deduct some points is that the shoes aren't completely waterproof (probably since they are perforated), but they did fine when I walked around in lighter rain.
At the end of the day, I find my new SAYES to be a solid investment especially for anyone looking to buy from a vegan, sustainable brand — and you will enjoy them even more if you have flatter arches. The style is a winner for days where you want to look casual yet polished. Now I know exactly what shoes to wear to help me stand out at my next brunch date with friends.
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