Footwear for Chronic Illnesses
Finding half-decent footwear can be a struggle – when you’re like me, and you’re looking for light, small, supportive and preferably sustainable shoes, you’re in a tidbit of trouble.
Short of shopping in the kid’s section, my barely-size-35 feet are a nightmare to shop for and require a ton of research to be done into where I find footwear. Add in the fact that I like to have a ton of support in my shoes – walking is hard enough as it is, I don’t need any extra stressors – and that my high-horse and I like sustainability, and you have a recipe for disaster.
So, as per usual, I went the long way around and spent (very strenuous) days online hunting for footwear. Yes. Strenuous. So I thought I’d give you my list of a) super supportive shoes, b) Vegan/vegetarian/sustainable shoe options and c) both!
List one: shoes with a hell of a lot of a lot of support.
So the criteria for this category was supportive shoes, and not in the sense of brings-you-ice-cream-when-you’re-sad. I was looking for shoes that had a solid, but not heavy, footbed, relatively durable fabric and support on the heel and arch. To top it all off, I wanted cute and functional footwear – which don’t always come together.
Camper shoes were my first pick for comfortable and supportive footwear. With practical and funky designs, these shoes cater for men, women and kids, in a variety of styles. What I particularly like about this brand is that lots of their shoes support the top of the foot, without being uncomfortable. Made in Spain, the leathers are deliciously comfortable, plus the brand has a social responsibility campaign which you all know I love.
Try: Bowie Loafers
Try: Bowie Ankle Boot
Of course, no list about comfortable shoes is complete without me mentioning Clarks. Designated as being daggy school shoes in Australia, I was pleasantly surprised coming over to Ireland that they were actually a fashion statement. Not only that, but they lived up to that reputation! Making shoes since 1825, Clarks is the ultimate in over-studying the biomechanics of the foot, they specialise in iconic and comfortable styles.
Try: The Tri-Angel Shoe
Try: The Grace Isabella Heel
One brand I was taken by surprise with was Naot. I came across this brand while researching comfortable travel footwear, and lo and behold, Naot popped up. They have a feature on their website (which is a little Neanderthal but I’ll let that slide) that allows you to see what they aim to create with the footbed of their shoes, from a deep heel inset for support to a raised arch. They have a fair range, and their sandals are perfect for travel. Plus, they offer repairs!
Try: The Audrey Sandal
List two: shoes that are vegan, vegetarian and sustainable
We all know I have this thing about sustainability. Anything that can guarantee me that their products are cruelty-free and good for the environment is an easy sell in my book. You can click here to read about why sustainability is so goddamn important. Or, you can keep scrolling and look at the pretty shoes.
Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather
First up is the brand Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather. Endorsed by Emma Watson (who is a queen), these shoes come in sizes 36 to 42 and, you guessed it, use materials other than leather. Coming in a variety of funky designs, from slides to boots, they also account for the man in your life, should you choose to be brave and buy him shoes. Super stylish, super comfortable and with super fast shipping, they are my ultimate pick.
Try: The Nina Low Boots
Try: The Alec Brown Sandal
Second in line is Vegetarian Shoes. Based in the UK and made in the EU, this brand has been Vegan for 26 ‘wonderful’ years. Vegan, of course, means fewer carbon emissions, and hence I was very willing to get on the bandwagon. This brand has a huge selection of styles, for men, women and specialists, coming in ladies sizes 36-42. I have the low Biker boots and I adore them. The sizes run very small though, so do beware.
Try: The Biker Low Boot
Try: The Beatrix Shoe
My favourite discovery was Olsenhaus shoes. While not overly practical, these babies are gorgeous. This brand is my go-to for super stylish, very classic designs that are appropriate to wear for a night, but not really all day. Plus, they’re fair trade, cruelty-free, sweatshop-free, natural materials, upcycled and low carbon emissions certified. Need I say more?
Try: The A-Pioneer Boot
Try: The A-Classic-Confetti Print Heel
Matt and Nat
Finally, we have Matt and Nat. I love Matt and Nat, simply because they aren’t just footwear – they produce a whole range of accessories! With sleek, slim lined designs for men and women, this brand has everything from boots to oxfords to heels. Plus, they’re committed to being eco-friendly and sustainable.
Try: The Westmount Flat
Try: The Griffentown Mule
Bonus Round: The Chanda Backpack
List three: shoes that tick both boxes!
From shoes that were worn by Kate Middleton to footwear that my mum wears, these shoes are both sustainable and ethical, as well as providing all the support you need to go frolicking around the city for hours.
Superga shoes have been seen on two of my favourite people to style stalk – Emma Watson (are you seeing a theme here) and Kate Middleton. They stock shoes for men, women and children, and for tall and short people. Let me explain – they have flatforms (which make me tall, hallelujah!), and slim soles (which do not make me tall). Like tennis shoes, these shoes are also super sustainable and Vegan, unless you choose to order the leather shoe.
Try: Superga 2750 Cotmetu
Veja shoes are my all time favourites. All. Time. Favourites. Again, endorsed and worn by, you guessed it, Emma Watson, these shoes are a dream to wear. A dream. While a little on the expensive side for sneakers, they come in leather-like styles and a variety of colours, their comfortable status just as high as that of Adidas. They’re also fair trade and organic farming certified, with a huge range of shoes in their Vegan category. Also, I could have 12.
Try: Esplar Leather Sneakers
Maians shoes were something I stumbled upon while looking for a perfect pair of combat boots. Handmade in Barcelona, with a hope to revive old artisanal ways of creating shoes, the brand uses 100% regional materials and vulcanised rubber to create their shoes. They have a huge range in really funky colours, with sneakers and sandals and wedges and everything.
Try: The Rufo boot
Try: The Cleto Slide