I am genetically predisposed to flat feet and bad knees, and I’ve worn orthotics since I was a pre-teen. Growing up, this meant completely functional, butt-ugly shoes. Thank goodness for the alt/grungy 90s where 6-hole Doc Martens were acceptable year round for all but formal occasions.
But, we’ve grown out of that, and a perennial challenge of mine is finding shoes which are not only aesthetically pleasing, but are also orthotic-friendly, or have built in support. With much relief, there are now more options co-designed by enterprising podiatrists than there used to be.
I am intending to write more on this topic, and review the shoes I have, but it’s that time of year when all the new season collections are being released, and I am completed besotted by so many of them, that I am compelled to share these with you now. I get no kickbacks from this, I just love being able to find good shoes for my problem feet.
Added bonus, all of these are Australian brands.
This brand is my current favourite. Bared are based in Melbourne and created by a podiatrist. All their shoes come with a biomechanical footbed featuring a metatarsal dome, cuboid notch, mid-foot arch support and a deep heel cup, all features you would get in a custom pair of orthotics these days. In their closed shoes, the insole is removable so you can use your own orthotics, but even if you don’t, or if you buy a pair of sandals with a fixed footbed, you know your feet are taken care of.
There are so many stunning options for both men and women, I am struggling to decide where to start. Not all of these are new season, but they’re too good not to share.
I have two pairs of Bared shoes right now and I want moar. They’re comfortable with their footbed, or my own orthotics. For the closed shoes, I add a 4mm foam wedge under the heel to mitigate the rubbing I usually get (I have narrow heels so I get rubbing issues). And my podiatrist loves them too. So that helps!
They’re generally true to size, and online, the staff will help you pick the right size if you contact them first, but they’ll send alternate sizes free of charge (within Australia) if you haven’t got the right fit (see conditions on the site).
Frankie4 are also designed by a podiatrist, and based in Queensland. Their shoes come with a functional footbed featuring forefoot cushioning, arch support and heel cradle. Some of their shoes also come with a custom fit pack with full-length insoles, half-length insoles and forefoot cushions that you can use individually or in combination to tailor the fit to your feet.
I have two pairs of Frankies, and they are often my travel go-tos. I have a pair of their previous incarnation of Ellie in red and I wear them almost every day (also with a 4mm foam wedge under the heel). I purchased them from a local stockist (a podiatrist clinic) so I’m not sure what they’re like to purchase from online, but I’ve had their shoes for about 5 years and they’re still going strong!
So this one is a bit different. Charlie Stone is based out of Sydney and is the brainchild of a dancer (lindy hop!). Her goal was to create a line of vintage inspired shoes which can withstand, and support dancers, who are hard on their feet and knees. They have resin soles, so they’re good for on, or off, the dance floor. I only wish they still did leather soles as with their original line, but unfortunately there are people who don’t know that caring for leather soles involves getting them resoled for the longevity of the shoe, and there were complaints that they were getting damaged with use. 🙁
Full disclosure, I don’t have a pair of these yet as I’ve been dance-free for a while due to bub, and have trouble justifying more shoes, but they’re (all) on my wish list, and my heart aches with longing. /drama
If you know of any other good brands like this, comment below!