You’ve seen the advertisements on Pinterest, Facebook, and the interwebs boasting about comfortable, cute, well made shoes that will change your shoe game. People with back problems tout how much better their backs feel at the end of the day, and teachers rave about the versatility of colors and how their feet feel wonderful at the end of the day!
But how do Tieks really, I mean really hold up? Do they really make your feet/back feel better? Are they as comfortable as they claim and how long do they last considering the price tags on the matte solid color flats is around $175 a pop (without tax and shipping of course)?
Well, let me share with you my experience with Tieks by Gavrieli. I should mention that I am not being paid for my opinion and all of my pictures of the Tieks are of my one pair, a leather matte finished black pair purchased in December of 2016.
First, the experience. Tieks are adorably wrapped in bright blue boxes and sent with a beautiful little flower bow, that my son loved:
My first pair I discovered I ordered too small. Now they say no returns after they have been worn. If you take your first day or two and just wear them around the house, they are fine with that. I suggest doing that. How do they feel? Are they leaving marks? Do any of your toes feel pressure from a strange place? These are important questions!
An Unexpected Problem
I was happy with mine and thought they fit. I wore them a week and noticed my big toes were numb on the outer side. I messaged the customer service crew and we went through all the ways the shoes could be pressing and they gave me ways to troubleshoot the problem. I was already pretty happy with the time these folks were spending with me trying to help me out but then they went above and beyond.
None of the ways they suggested worked to stop the numbness in my toes, toes because it had spread. My shoes were not too tight, I had space all over. I took pictures from all angles and in the end, it was decided that the shoes though, space they had, had to be a bigger size.
But I had been wearing them for two weeks, in public, at work, everything. The admitted, usually they did not take back shoes but they had gotten to know me a bit, knew I was a teacher and I had dropped a lot of money, for me, on these shoes. They also knew I was not expecting a refund or another pair. They were concerned that I wasn’t having an ideal experience. I was concerned that they hurt. They asked for my pair back once they shipped me a new pair in a larger size. They even paid for the return postage!
This was good because in under two weeks I HATED my Tieks.
So I started again, walking around the house in them, making sure they really fit before I went into the outside world.
The I wore them, in only the way a Band teacher could.
Wearing my Tieks
I’ve worn them, I estimate, 200 days at school and anytime I had to travel or go out in the summer. So I may not have warn my shoes 365 days yet, but I’ve done things in my Tieks that I doubt highly they were made for…
My usual Ballet flat, from general retailers would wear out in 3 months. I would literally wear through the soles.
Why? Well…. I am a Band teacher.
Last year I was a Band teacher whose classroom was damaged by Hurricane Matthew. Walking my classes to and from the auditorium, teaching, and performing my duties would often clock me in at walking 8 miles a day. Now that I have my classroom back I walk 3 miles a day. Not as impressive to be sure but that first year, 8 miles give or take a day. I would walk 8 miles a day in my Tieks.
I marched 3 parade practice routes after school, and I marched parade practice routes during school, in my Tieks.
I volunteered for disaster relief, in my Tieks.
I did a lot more than walk around the office. That’s kind of one of the cool things about Tieks, they didn’t come to absolute pieces in three months.
Wear and Tear
In a month’s time my big toe began to wear through the cloth lining the toe area. I keep my toenails reasonably short. I don’t have monster strength toenails either, my nails often rip on their own, they are so weak.
I also discovered, I couldn’t wear my Tieks like the beautiful ladies in the ads did. I had to wear socks. Socks seemed to help a little when it came to keeping my big toe from ripping through the top of the leather. The other reason to wear socks was I discovered, unpleasantly that my feet sweat. A lot. I had to go home and air dry my shoes daily. The leather began to crack (in small channels) on the insoles. I used leather cleaner and lotion to try to soften and counteract this, but it made the leather soles and slick inside my shoes. And well… thanks to that… they have a particular odor that only seems to activate if I wear my shoes without socks and it’s hot. (I would also mention I work in an outside building off of the school and I often hike through the dirt. I’m aware my teams though cleaned with leather cleaner, softened with leather lotion still look kind of gross.)
The outsides of the shoe wore away at any edges/places there were seams near the bottom of backs of the shoes. The leather has worn away where my big toe pokes up on each shoe.
They Have Lasted…
They have last though, it all the ways that count. The insoles while slick and slightly cracked did not crack further. The soles themselves clean easy and everyone knows I’m wearing Tieks. They’ve not worn through even a little on the bottom.
The elastic around the shoe opening has not stretched out with wearing socks. Maybe a bit, but not so much I cannot wear the shoes without socks.
They are pretty water resistant. Twice I trusted the wrong puddle and flooded my shoes. Nothing has come “unglued” (probably because the insoles are stitched) since the accidental drenchings. Yeah I learned it’s uncomfortable to wear leather shoes when wet. They aren’t meant to be worn that way so I can’t hold that against them.
If I Could Give Tieks Pointers…
I would suggest reinforcing the fabrics on the underside and ask they have that extra fabric at the toe tacked down all the way around the shoe. I don’t know how but seriously it’s come unpasted or what have you. In my current pair, the extra fabric inside stops around my 4th toe and has come off the top and gets caught in between my toes. It’s super uncomfortable. Wearing socks stops that but… the models didn’t have to wear socks and I thought I could get away with not, too. So having that fabric stitched down in some manner all the way around would rock.
Sell cleaning kits. I would have bought one. Heck link to a partner if you don’t actually want to sell kits. Give us options or brands for cleaning. When I looked, I saw no such advice. Maybe that’s changed?
That extra shoe bag would be awesome with a zipper. After all, I’m putting on other shoes to go into the rain. Then I take my open bag out into the rain so my Tieks… can get wet…? Maybe other people have many large bags. All of mine fit 8×10 slabs of paper and there’s not much room to stuff the shoes down in. I’m also not so lucky as to have an umbrella all the time. That could help.
Would I Buy Another Pair?
Abso-freaking-lutely. I’ve never had a pair of shoes last this long. My back doesn’t hurt after wearing these shoes all day. My feet feel fine too, though sometimes they are sweaty… the worn away patches minus the toe areas are barely noticeable.
While my students think I am wearing slippers (size 13 shoes are inelegant in all shoes, that I’ve encountered so far so I wasn’t really offended), I’m appropriately dressed for work and my Tieks are a go to for going out after work.
Were they my saving grace? No. Instead of spending around $100 a year on dress shoes I spend $175 plus shipping and all that. However it was a trade off or shorts. Yeah I spent more money on these shoes. I didn’t have to go to 5 stores hoping for sizes 12/13 to be carried/in stock. I didn’t have to worry that the colors I wanted may or may not be in stock. I didn’t have to go it and repeat this process every 3 months.
My Tieks are still wearing fine. Pieces aren’t falling off and I can still walk plenty of miles in what I’ve got left, worse for wear or not.
With my next pair I would plan to use that extra shoe carry bag they send with the Tieks and bring some flip flops (thongs) to work. I would wear socks because I know my issues. I would think about ways to strengthen the toes, moleskin comes to mind.
And I would order a nude pair. Black flats all year again… I could stand to shake things up a bit. Someday I’ll be able to afford 2 pairs. I’m telling you for me it was worth it.
Have you tried Tieks? What did you think? Please comment below!