This is NOT a sponsored post. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are solely my own.
As a new vegan, I'm constantly navigating how to avoid animal products in my daily life. For me, that also includes household, beauty, and fashion products derived from animals too. Additionally, I've been trying to make a more conscious effort to, you know, actually care about my wardrobe, so finding a nice pair of shoes that were also eco-conscious/animal-friendly became a significant goal for many reasons.
With veganism, I've mostly decided to take the same approach I used when transitioning to natural and organic household products: every time an item I already own is used up or worn out, I replace it with an alternative that is more in line with my values. This keeps me from getting overwhelmed by a drastic overhaul and saves me money as I have time to survey the market and shop the best deals.
So, like I said, I was in the market for a new pair of shoes. Not to mention, as I spend more time in the clinic, a comfortable pair that blends well (read: is appropriate) in a medical setting has quickly become a top priority. And I cannot with those clogs. I just can't.
So, let's talk Tieks. Here's the real deal on what you really want to know:
- If you have anything other than a super narrow foot, size up. Tieks acknowledges that their vegan shoes are snug, but only for those who usually purchase half-sizes. Based on their website, I fully expected my regular size to fit just fine. It didn't. Tieks has an impressive (and fast!) exchange policy/protocol, but I was bummed to find my initial order was way too tight on my feet.
- It takes about 5 wears before you're impressed. On the first and second wear (after the exchange), the shoes were not comfortable. At all. Sometimes even painful. Lucky for me, I was still in the thick of a school term and couldn't spare the time to process a return on top of the exchange I already completed. Honestly, it was more beneficial, at the time, to have shoes that worked, even if they didn't work well. I put them in my closet and begrudgingly pulled them out when I needed them. Unexpectedly, the breakthrough came when I brought them on a recent trip (mostly because they took up the least amount of space in my suitcase). I happened to fully break them in by day two of my trip, and from that day on, I haven't wanted to wear anything else.
- These are NOT the most comfortable pair of shoes I've ever owned. No. Minnetonka Moccasins currently hold that title, but they're (obviously) made out of animal hide and not the best option for the rainy weather and puddle-filled streets of the Pacific Northwest. Sadly, it's time for me to move on. So, while my Tieks are not the most comfortable pair of shoes I've ever owned, they are definitely the most comfortable (and versatile) pair of shoes I own right now. And I'm happy with that.
- Are they worth the money??? It depends. If you're the kind of person who would have to buy specialty shoes anyway because you're always on your feet for extended periods of time or the quality of your gait greatly depends on the design and functionality of your shoes, then yes. They are absolutely worth it. But if you have a day job where you're mostly seated or are just looking for a cute pair of shoes... no. There are plenty of cute and comfy shoes available for a fraction of the price.
One of the greatest things I've ever heard came from one of my undergraduate professors. He said, "we know the price of everything and the value of nothing." Having a comfortable and appropriate pair of shoes in clinic means I can focus less on my feet and more on my patients. Value. Having a quality and well-made shoe means I spend less money (and time!) buying a new pair at the beginning of every school term. Value. So, if these shoes last even a year, and I suspect they will, cost-per-use would be significantly lower than a cheaper pair of shoes that wouldn't even make it through one season. But like I said, if you're not on your feet a lot (meaning, your shoes don't wear out quickly anyway), then you'd still come out better overall buying a more affordable pair of shoes that are equally as comfortable.
All of that to say: Tieks really are a great shoe that transitions exceptionally well between the current state of my personal and professional life. I really can't ask for anything better than that. Well, except a 50% off coupon and Ryan Gosling saying "Hey girl, you know you look good in those Tieks." I mean, a girl can dream. ;)
ETA: It's February 27, 2018, and I am officially retiring my first pair of Tieks! I purchased them in August 2016 and have worn them heavily starting in late September 2016. Since October 2017, I've worn them every single workday, which finally led to their demise. So, the shoes officially made it a year and a half before they were just too worn out (fraying at the toe and heel as well as a hole on side of the left shoe). The light grey vegan Tieks are made of woven fabric, so I am excited to see how the dark grey ones perform given they are made of a different kind of material. I'm still very happy with my purchase, and considering that my colleagues have been complaining about how much their feet hurt while I can stand for hours without even a wince, I'd say they're worth every penny!