The birds are chirping. The leaves are budding. The flowers are blossoming. And I’m in a total case of spring fever. Since I’m me, this extends to shoes. I’m browsing for sandals left and right and getting all excited over pedicures and ballet flats and all, just like I do every spring.
But I’m also doing my other thing that I do every springtime. Wondering if I’ll be able to find walkable, supportive, cute shoes for the warm weather.
How perfect the timing then, for Thierry Rabotin to step on up.
Thierry Rabotin is one of those classics of the comfort shoe industry. The man himself used to be the designer for Taryn Rose, and after some legal bad blood a few years back when he left the company, he struck out on his own, with his own mission to make high-end, handmade comfort shoes.
And he’s done it. If you’re a geek about shoe companies like I am, check out that link to the company website for some interesting information about their manufacturing process and design vision.
In case you’re not a geek like that (though, really, I bet a bunch of you are… it’s Shoeblog, after all), I won’t go into it much, except to say that Rabotins are made in Italy (as the good shoes always are) and use the legendary sacchetto construction (basically where full grain leather linings are sewn directly to the upper of the shoe instead of being glued to mid-layers or shanks or insoles) that a) makes shoes a lot lighter and more flexible and b) is fairly rare, since it takes a lot more care in the construction of a shoe and doesn’t lend itself to assembly-line mass production techniques.
Oh look… I went on about geeky shoe things anyway.
Well, let’s cut to the chase, shall we?
So up to now I’ve been very curious to try a pair of Thierrys, but I’ve never been tickled by their styles until I snagged myself a pair of these Georgia maryjanes for my very own.
Of course, it’s time to share the experience with all of you good people out there.
First off, I was a mite sceptical to be honest. I’m generally leery of this sort of flat ballet-inspired shoe, because most of the ones I’ve ever tried on, even those from “comfort” companies, don’t offer much in the way of support or shock-absorption, and they often cut up the back of my heel something fierce.
But when I slipped these on and walked them through the concrete and cobblestone streets of London for a few days, the most I could complain about was one spot where the edge rubbed at the outside of my little toe. Even that, honestly, I’m not too worried about. The leather feels like butter, and it’s already stretching around the shape of my foot. No heel rubbing, because there’s a genius patch of suede on the inside of the shoe’s heel. There’s even built-in arch support! It’s like a little sigh of relief putting these puppies on my feet. Word of advice, though: I’d go up a half size if you’re in doubt. I’m usually an 8 US, and I got these in the 8.5 (which in Rabotin sizing is 38.5), and I wouldn’t want ‘em any smaller.
They’re a bit on the narrow side (hence the toe rubbing), which also worried me looking at them in the box. But they’re actually quite flattering once they’re on, and they don’t gap weirdly, which I often find is a problem with ballerina-style shoes.
Style-wise, I can’t say as they’re the most cutting edge pair of shoes I’ve ever put on, and that’s in keeping with the company’s ethos of making shoes that are “classics” and don’t follow the whims of fashion. Personally, I think there’s still room to get a bit less old-fashioned with their collections while maintaining a classic overall style. But the inclusion of these metallic leathers that they’ve been doing for the past few seasons has made a huge difference. Case in point: in black, the Georgia isn’t nearly as interesting to me.
Likewise, it’s the pewter that catches my eye on the Grace flat.
OK, maybe I’m just a sucker for the shiny, but make something in a metallic, and I’m all over it.
All in all, I’d say I was really pleasantly surprised by these shoes, and I’d give them high marks all around, with perhaps a few points off for style innovation.
If you’re after a pair of your own, follow the links above to the shoes at Joseph. And if you’re still not convinced that these are awesome and worth the (admittedly high) retail price tag of $400-450, there are plenty of other comfort brands there with some adorable shoes for spring. I make special mention of these funky Arche perforated sandals, which are not only a ton of fun in hot pink, but damn trendy right now with their zip-up heel and combination clunky/cut-out styling.
Or, in a yet-lower price bracket, there’s the Cole Haan Air Ariana sandal with Nike sole technology. I haven’t mentioned it recently, but seriously, the Cole Haan Air series (as well as its precursor, Cole Haan G Series) makes up by far the highest percentage of my go-to shoes for summer walking in stylish comfort.
You know what? Just go ahead and browse through all the spring shoes over there. There are some beauts. And there’s even a fun article from their head shoe buyer about some of his favorite picks for spring shoes.