“People are less and less willing to accept that they have to wear uncomfortable shoes every day.”
Like many of my fellow zillennials, I moved away from the carefree fashion choices of the early twenties and into a more responsible fashion era, suitable for the mid-twenties. This includes a few changes, namely making more ethical buying choices and choosing comfortable items.
As I once squeezed my boobs into a tube half my size, or endured a night of pretending my feet weren’t in excruciating pain from the super cute shoes I just spent $200 on, I’ve decided that life is just too short to feel confined in the name of fashion.
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But as someone with long, narrow feet, it can be difficult to find shoes that support my foot shape. In addition to buying more consciously from ethical brands, I have recently invested only in durable, comfortable and ergonomic shoes, especially since my fashion choices now accompany me in the office.
With that in mind, I researched the best Australian-made brands with a solid offering of ergonomic shoes. Here’s what I found, with the help of a few experts.
Australian designer and Rollie founder Vince Lebon launched his brand in 2012, with the primary goal of providing comfortable, lightweight shoes that not only can be worn every day, but also look great. He was inspired by his flight attendant wife, Kat (nicknamed Rollie), as he wanted to create the perfect shoe for her to travel the world.
“Shoes, unlike clothes, are extremely functional,” Vince tells me. “You have so much weight on the shoes in tough conditions and what kind of floors and soils you are working on… functional, durable and ergonomic shoes play a major role.”
Vince says he wanted his line to be comfortable without compromising on style. The range includes trainers, flats, boots and sandals for men and women, using EVA midsoles for the ultimate plush and flexible feel. There’s also the NitroBounce trainers, providing extra bounce and comfort for everyday wear.
When I ask Vince if he thinks ergonomic shoe styles are becoming more common in the fashion industry, he says that ten years ago there were only three choices when it came to shoes: sports performance, fashionable shoes and comfortable shoes – not in between. “I think (now) it’s really driven by the sneaker market, and people are deciding they’re not going to wear regular shoes unless they’re comfortable,” he says.
“But an ergonomic design is extremely technical – many brands say they’re comfortable, but it’s easy to just apply that like with ‘sustainable’ clothing. I am a cobbler at heart. I design the patterns and do everything myself, and that’s the level of detail you have to go to to create real ergonomic shoes,” he says.
Founded by podiatrist Anna Baird 13 years ago, Bared has since amassed a cult following across the country. The women’s line includes a wide range of flats, sandals, sneakers, heels, boots and even (super fluffy) slippers, while the men’s line includes dress shoes, sneakers, boots, moccasins, boat shoes and more.
The main difference with Bared, compared to other shoes on the market, is its “biochemical sole” which offers a comfortable arched shape and a hollow heel for additional support. Bared was also recommended to me by Rachael Ferguson, Perth-based podiatrist and founder of foot care brand SynxBody, who says “Ergonomic shoes are essential for supporting the joints and reducing stress in the body by providing support and cushioning in all the right places”.
Rachael adds that over time it reduces foot conditions and stress on other joints in the body. With more and more brands like Bared constantly improving their designs, she says she sees improved posture and less stress on the spine and other joints due to “better distribution and absorption of shocks throughout the body”.
Another brand recommended by Rachael, Frankie4 offers a range of comfortable shoes for women. If you’re looking for the perfect boot for work (or play), the brand offers a range of tall boots, ankle boots and more, made from genuine leather in a range of classic colours. And of course, there are plenty of other shoes to choose from as well, including sneakers, flats, slides, sandals, and even socks.
Frankie4 uses their Sole Hero insole, designed by podiatrists to hug, cradle and hug your feet. Rachael says ergonomic designs like these are growing in popularity because after many years of women wearing high heels and suffering from uncomfortable feet, they now have a choice.
Even better, she says there’s a new understanding that these styles “don’t need to go out of style and that’s the key thing that’s driven this popular trend.” People are less and less willing to accept that they have to wear uncomfortable shoes every day to work and go out on the town.
A final no less honorable mention is Merry People’s range of cute yet comfortable rubber boots. Founded in Melbourne in 2014, the collection now includes an extensive range of ergonomic boots and clogs in many fun and traditional colours, each made with quality waterproof natural rubber. All Merry People wellies are made with 4mm neoprene for added comfort and warmth on muddy winter days.
The brand recently launched a collaboration with beloved New Zealand designer Karen Walker. It therefore clearly places its sites on customers who are interested in shoes that are both functional and aesthetic.
The insoles are constructed with arch support and it is possible to remove the insoles for those with orthotics. Rachael tells me that she notices that more and more podiatrists and healthcare professionals are using their skills and knowledge to create designs that provide “superior support, while allowing people to feel good about themselves. shoes “.
“We also find that the ergonomics[ally] designed shoes generally last longer than other shoes, which means people may pay a higher price for their ergonomic shoes upfront, but they will buy fewer pairs of shoes over time,” she tells me. Honestly there is nothing better than comfortable and sustainable fashion.
For tips on how to choose shoes that won’t hurt your feet, go here.