If you’re unfamiliar with Tieks, this family owned company has been touted as the most versatile and comfortable designer ballerina flat makers in the world. Tieks’ goal was to take the iconic ballerina flat and adapt it for the modern woman. The flexible shoes, with the blue soles and back strip (which seem more like a status symbol), are made of Italian leather and can worn everyday and be folded and carried in a purse. A pair of Tieks takes three days and 150 steps to make, which includes hand stitching. The brand took off when Oprah was spotted wearing them and then featured the company in her magazine. The rest, as they say, is history.
Full disclosure, the company did not send me a pair for free nor did they ask me or compensate me to write this review. However, what they did do was offer me a serious discount of 75% off a pair. How could I resist? Of course, with this discount, I purchased one of the more expensive pairs they sell, the Wild Copper pair. After placing my order I anxiously waited to find out if Tieks could stand up to the hefty price tag that comes with them…even if I did not pay said price tag.
Upon delivery of my Tieks I noted the incredible packaging which, while nice, also seemed unnecessary. Sure, it was a nice touch (and I am a packaging snob), but if packaging has anything to do with the final cost of these shoes it hardly seems worth it. Inside a tiny blue box that was wrapped in a lime green bow I found my new Tieks folded along with shoe bags for transport. Once I got my shoes out of the box, which wasn’t easy, I unfolded them and tried them on. A few walks around my apartment was not enough to get a real sense of fit and I waited for the first hint of a warm day to wear them outdoors.
I am a tough customer when it comes to shoes. I am a New Yorker and I spend a lot of time on my feet as a stylist. I enjoy ballerina flats but know that after a few hours I am not happy. Often my heels hurt, my knees and hips start to ache and I feel like I’ve been walking barefoot all day. Generally speaking, ballerina flats aren’t as good for the feet. While they are flat, the human foot needs more support and a slight heel to be healthy. Ask any podiatrist and he’ll tell you that a ballerina flat can be tough on the feet and potentially as bad for you as a pair of high heels. Yet, one thing I will say about Tieks ballerina flats is that the blue soles, that you will find on the bottom of every pair, are for more than just looking pretty. These soles felt like little shock absorbers that cushioned my heels on hard pavement. After spending 6 hours in them, while I did notice a pang of discomfort by the end of the day, it was nothing compared to how I have felt in other flats that I have worn for the same amount of time. Do I think this feature is worth $175 and higher? I don’t know. Yet, one thing I did wonder was why no other ballerina flat company has thought to put this much bouncy cushion on the bottoms of their shoes. Thumbs up to Tieks for this.
However, at such a high price point I think Tieks sets themselves up for huge expectation and a lot of pressure. I didn’t feel like my feet had died and gone to heaven when I put them on. They were comfortable ballerina flats, that’s it. In fact, while the soles were comfortable I found the elastic on the top of my one foot to be slightly uncomfortable. I don’t blame Tieks for this, although I have read about a lot of people complaining about this, and I am hoping that, in time, the elastic will be more forgiving on my foot.
My review is this: Will I grab these shoes on a regular basis? Yes. Would I spend $275 for them? No, not in a million years. Sure, in the world of ballerina flats it is quite possible that Tieks are among the most comfortable pair of flats you can purchase, no doubt about it. Yet, you also have to consider the playing field– few ballerina flats are all that comfortable and good for the feet to begin with. So the question remains is if the comfort is worth the price that the company is selling it for? Unfortunately there is no black and white answer to this, it’s just too subjective. For some people dropping this much money on a pair of shoes is nothing and for others (i.e. most people) the price of Tieks is out of the realm of reality. If you’re considering a a pair of these but would have to save up, or go into debt to own them, they’re not worth it. Seriously, the world will not end and your feet will forgive you if you pass these shoes by. If you’re someone who wants to invest and are on somewhat of a limited budget then I suggest the most versatile pair you can buy, a pair that will get you a lot of wear, so you can justify the cost by getting a lot of use from them.
The good news is that Tieks has an excellent return policy and offer a full refund plus the cost of shipping them back. If you’ve been afraid to pull the Tieks trigger just know that if you don’t like them the company makes it super easy to return.
Do you own a pair of Tieks or have you been considering a pair? I’d love to hear what you think.
For more information and to check out Tieks further, visit Tieks.com.
Update on my Tieks Original Review
Update 5/6/2014: Having fully broken in my Tieks, I have to say that these shoes have become much more comfortable than they initially were. Apparently, for these shoes to be as comfortable as the company claims they are a few wears are needed. Are they the most comfortable ballerina flats on the planet? Well…I guess I’d have to try every pair on the planet first.
Update 5/11/16: Now that it has been two years since I purchased my Tieks, I thought it would be helpful to offer another update. I am still wearing my Tieks and, while they are a little scuffed in the toe area from wear (to be expected), they have held up quite nicely. I took some photos wearing them today. As you can see, the soles are in great shape. On days when it is warm enough to wear ballerina flats and not hot enough for sandals, these are always the shoes I grab on casual days. They continue to be very comfortable and have molded to my feet perfectly. Would I wear them if I had to be on my feet all day? Probably not. While comfortable, I still don’t think they are good if you are looking for tremendous support or for shoes you can walk for miles and miles in. I’d sooner wear my Birkenstock Gizehs in these cases.
So do I think Tieks are worth the price now? I’d have to go back on what I originally said and say yes. When I figure the price of the Tieks and then divide that number by the amount of times I have worn them, and then include how well they have stood the test of time, I can confidentially say they have more than paid for themselves.
I would also like to use this update to thank everyone for their comments and Tieks reviews below. I think they are just as useful as what I wrote about them. Negative or positive, please feel free to continue to share your thoughts about Tieks as I know readers of this post will find whatever anyone has to say helpful!!