If you like to hang out on Pinterest at all, you’ve likely seen advertisements for both Tieks ballet flats and Rothy’s cool flats made from recycled water bottles.
But you might have found yourself asking: Is one better than the other? Which one should I get?
These aren’t super-cheap shoes, so it’s worth it to do your research and decide which ones will be better for your lifestyle and your values. I happen to own both, and so I thought I’d do a side-by-side comparison.
What’s different about this review is that I’ve been wearing both of these pairs of shoes for more than a year — so it’s not just about how they look out of the box (because they both look and feel awesome!) but how they stand up to a year or more of hard wear.
I bought my Tieks in June of 2016, so they are quite a bit older than my Rothy’s. I wore them A LOT the first year I owned them, and then less and less since then. So while they have been in my closet longer, I’d say they probably have a comparable amount of wear time — maybe just a little more than my Rothy’s.
I LOVED these shoes when I first got them! I got them in Poppy and just adored them. I felt like they went with everything, especially the navy neutrals in my closet. To this day, I get comments and compliments whenever I wear these shoes.
They do live up to the promises Tieks makes about them: They are comfortable and wear well for long periods of time and lots of walking. They do fold up for carrying, although I almost never need to do that. I have narrow heels, but these fit my size 8 foot like a dream.
The only problem I have with these shoes is how much wear they show and how quickly.
As you can see, the interior has become very sweat stained (hey, we keep it real around here) and there’s no way I know of to clean that out. From the top, they don’t look bad, although, as you can see, there’s some definite wear across the toes, especially where you can SEE where my big toes hit in the shoes.
The problems are really with the back and the undersides of the shoes.
As you can see, the soles are still in good shape, but the color on the leather around the heel has worn off almost completely. Unfortunately, this started within six months of owning these shoes. I drove a manual transmission car at the time, and I was afraid it was from rubbing the shoe against the floor mats of my car when I was clutching, but it became apparent that the wear was pretty even across both shoes. It’s also apparent under the toes as you can see below.
I actually took them to my shoe repair guy after about six months of wearing them to see if there was anything he could do — a polish or protectant he could put on. He said no. He pointed out that because of the way these shoes are constructed, with the leather upper hanging over the sole, these wear patterns were nearly inevitable.
Again, this is on the underside of the shoe, so probably no one but me would ever notice it! If you look closely at the first photo, you can also see that the color has started wearing off the tops of the shoes where my toes push against the leather. Because I know how worn out they look, I find myself reaching for them less and less.
More worrying was the fact that the stitching began to come undone on the heel of the right shoe within about a year of hard wear. It hasn’t gotten much worse over time, but again, I wear these shoes much less frequently now.
I’ve had my Rothy’s about a year now, and I just washed them for the first time, which is what inspired this post.
These are my go-to everyday shoes now. Again, I feel like this print goes with EVERYTHING. The rounded toe is classic, and the leopard print is practically a neutral.
When I first got these, They fit great on my narrow heel, but I thought the toe box might be too tight. But after wearing them a while, they do have a tiny bit of stretch, and now I find them perfect and perfectly comfortable. Luckily, they don’t seem to stretch out, as in get TOO big over time.
As you can see, they survived the washing machine perfectly! Be sure to follow the washing instructions and wash only in cold water on the delicate cycle, then air dry.
Maybe because of the different material or different construction, they show no signs of the same wear and tear on the heels as my Tieks. It’s a bit difficult to see in these photos, but on close inspection, I did notice that the rubber is wearing slightly on the heels (see the outside of both shoes above) and very front of the toes. (I supinate, so it’s wearing unevenly because of my gait.) This doesn’t seem unreasonable for a year of steady wear.
Overall, I’ve been extremely happy with my Rothy’s. They’re soft, comfortable, cute, and easy to walk in. And after a year of steady wear, they look practically brand new.
If you’d like to try a pair, you can get $20 off your purchase with my referral link.
So which would I choose if I were going to buy another pair?
Tieks vs. Rothy’s
To my eye, Tieks are the more polished-looking shoe. The woven finish of the Rothy’s comes off more casual. While Tieks come in a huge range of colors, they only offer one shape, where Rothy’s now offers a round-toe, pointed-toe, a loafer, and a sneaker in a wide range of colors and prints.
Tieks start at $175 and go up to nearly $300 depending on the finish you choose. Rothy’s start at $125 and go up to $165 by style.
Both brands have a give-back model that can make you feel good, too. Tieks donates money to Kiva to support women entrepreneurs around the globe, and they’ve donated more than $10 million so far. Rothy’s are made from recycled water bottles, so they’re eco-friendly, and the company donates all their samples and returned shoes to women who would otherwise go without.
Based mostly on my experience with the visible wear on my Tieks, I would probably lean towards buying another pair of Rothy’s as an everyday shoe. However, if I were only planning to wear my Tieks for dressier occasions (less wear overall) I would consider another pair as they are definitely cute and comfortable. I would probably choose a standard color (black, brown, navy, or nude) so that I could use shoe polish to cover and touch up any obvious signs of wear.
How long should women’s shoes last?
I’ve been putting a lot more thought into my purchases lately, and when I buy new, I try to buy things I know will last. But thinking about this brought up an interesting question for me: How long should a decent pair of women’s shoes last? Am I being unreasonable, expecting my Tieks to last longer than they did?
Last summer, I had to retire a beloved pair of gold Birkenstock sandals, because the strap between the toe came completely detached. I was pretty grumpy about it, thinking they should have lasted longer — before I realized that I’d had them since before my European cruise, four years ago. Those sandals held up for probably at least 5 summers of hard, constant wear. Not bad, really.
I know from experience that cheap shoes from Target or Payless (RIP) wouldn’t last me more than a season of regular wear. But I felt like if I was spending $100–$200 on a pair of shoes, they should last a while, right?
Turns out, “a while” is pretty subjective.
The consensus from my research is that how long a pair of shoes will last depends on a lot of different factors, including the materials, the construction, how many steps you take in them, how you care for them, and more.
A pair of cheap, mass market (Target, Wal-Mart, Payless) shoes might only last a season, or about 3–4 months. A fashion shoe from a mid-market brand might last 6 months of steady wear, even if they are made of real leather, because the leather will be thinner and cheaper, and the construction will be less durable.
When you get into more expensive leather shoes, you can care for them and have them last longer. Nice pumps or boots, for example, can be re-heeled and re-soled many times, and the upper can be cleaned and polished.
Tieks can’t really be polished if bought in a bright color or pattern; there is clear shoe polish, but it won’t cover or repair the places where the color has worn off. They cannot be re-soled by a regular shoe repair shop, either — at least not the cute turquoise soles. My shoe repair guy might be able to restitch the back of my Tiek where the stitching is coming apart, but at this point I have to consider whether it’s worth the cost to repair them.
Rothy’s can’t be polished (obviously), nor re-heeled or re-soled. However, they can be washed, and mine came out of the wash looking great (and smelling significantly better). Rothy’s, however, are specifically built to last. They’re actually stronger and tougher than the leather of my Tieks. I expect them to last me quite a lot longer.
That means, in terms of cost per wear, eco-friendliness, and longevity, the Rothy’s win hands down. I’ll have to check in and update this post in a couple of years, when my Rothy’s have really been through the wringer!