It was just one year ago that my first pair of matte black Tieks arrived. If you read my earlier review, you will note that I was initially a little skeptical. They were comfortable for sure, but initially were not as comfortable as my other favorite flats, Born Julianne. However, it only took a couple of months and my Born flats were relegated back to their boxes or the back of my closet. The Tieks were just that good!
Now that a year has passed, my collection of Tieks has grown to five pair; and I still want more! At first, I did not understand the obsession with Tieks, but I also don’t understand other obsessions with particular articles of clothing that my wife, other women and some men have. Wearing Tieks was in many ways an epiphany for me, as I now understand how it is possible to have an obsession with a particular brand of clothing.
I have been wearing my Tieks as a casual shoe almost exclusively for the past year. While I don’t wear then to work–they just don’t quite work with men’s suits (although I think they could work with the “skinny suit” look). When I get home, I immediately take off my dress shoes and reach for a pair of Tieks. After a year of wear, I have come to the conclusion that they are some of the best shoes on the market.
My first and primary reason for wearing ballet flats is comfort. All five pair exceed just about all of my expectations for comfort. However, not all of them started out that way. Some were more comfortable initially that others; a trait I attribute to the fact that they are “hand-made,” according the Tieks website. All of them eventually broke in and are incredibly comfortable. The leather is buttery-soft and over time molded to my feet. I was also surprised that for such a flat shoe, the leather insole has a surprising amount of cushioning and it is still thick enough to provide protection for my feet on rocky surfaces.
I do have a couple of quibbles with Tieks comfort. First, I do have occasional issues with too much pressure on my big toes. This may be in part because I added moleskin to reduce the “toe bump” a little bit, but I also think it is a result of my foot sliding forward in the shoe. This is more pronounced if I wear footies, thin socks or other legwear that makes my foot slide around. The leather on these shoes is so supple, that it doesn’t do a very good job holding my feet stable. That said, when worn barefoot, the shoes mold to my feet and the toe issues mostly disappear. Second, the elastic around the opening pulls the heel padding tight against my Achilles tendon causing redness after a long day. While I would not really call it uncomfortable, it is annoying.
Quality and Durability
I can not say enough about how well these shoes have held up over the past year, wearing them everywhere and under all sorts of conditions. Even to soles on my oldest pair–mate black–show almost no wear whatsoever. I have had to polish this pair once as they did become pretty scuffed up, but a bit of Tarrago polish fixed that right up.
My only real complaint with the quality of my Tieks is that I have had to use the moleskin “hack” to reduce the toe bump and provide some additional protection from my toes wearing through the leather.
The great thing about Tieks for us guys is that they are a very “classic” styled ballet flat without any ornamentation and they come an a number of neutral colors. I started out with neutral colors like black, taupe and navy. However, they also come in a wide range of colors if you want to be more “bold.” I have since added chestnut and burgundy to my collection. Some of my fellow Tieks-loving guys on Facebook have gone all out and embraced some of Tieks wilder colors, and they look great! As a fairly conservative guy in my dress, I was also a little hesitant about the signature blue sole of Tieks, but I have to say it has grown on me and I now wear it as a badge of honor in being part of the “Tieks club.”
Surprisingly (or not), the sky did not fall and the world did not end because a “regular guy” broke through some footwear stereotypes and took to wearing Tieks ballet flats on a regular basis. In fact, I am probably more surprised at how little reaction I have observed. Most people just don’t seem to notice. Occasionally, I will notice people (usually women) doing a double-take or spending some extra time looking at my shoes, but I have never had a negative reaction. On the few occasions people have interacted with me about my Tieks, it has always been a positive experience. Usually it is just a brief compliment such as, “nice shoes.” I did have one occasion where a woman working in a shoe store stopped me and asked me about my Tieks. I described what I liked about them and I think I may have sold her on trying them out (still waiting for my commission though).
Tieks may not be for everyone, but I have found them to be a very versatile and comfortable brand of shoes. I realize the cost is high, but in a world where you generally get what you pay for, the value of these flats is commendable.