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Product Review: Tieks Ballet Flats

What Is It: Tieks ballet flats are foldable shoes for women.

Price and Where to Buy: The shoes start at $165 on the Tieks website.

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Pros: Tieks are the higher-end version of CitySlips. They've already been reviewed by just about every travel blogger with feet. (Google "Tieks review." You'll see.) So we decided to throw some new information out there and review Tieks' Vegan Collection. They're the cheaper, more creature-friendly style of the popular Tieks.

It's not easy to find a high-quality, stylish pair of non-leather shoes. Nor is it a cinch to find a comfortable pair of travel shoes that doesn't look orthopedic. Vegan Tieks fit the bill. They're foldable, so they easily slip into a suitcase, a purse, or even a pocket. They offer slipper-grade comfort—perfect for the plane—and have a solid, shock-absorbing sole. Moreover, they're as stylish as any boutique-sourced designer ballet flat. Even SmarterTravel's high-heel wearing executive editor, who tends to shy away from flats, gave them her approval. As of today, two of the four vegan colors are sold out.

Cons: No surprise here. The biggest con is the price at $165 a pair. While that's cheaper than many other kinds of Tieks, including patent-leather styles and print styles, these fabric shoes are the same price as classic solid-color leather Tieks.

However, your Tieks purchase comes with a few extra goodies that may help soften the blow to your budget: A carrying case, a packable foldable bag, and pant clips are included in the fancy blue Tieks box. The box is topped with a big fake flower on an elastic band, which makes a fabulous accessory for your child or pet's head. Plus, Tieks promises to "[plant] a tree through The Nature Conservancy for every vegan pair sold."

How It Rates:

  • Usefulness: 9/10. A travel shoe that can fold up into a compact, packable package is extremely useful for those of us who have no luggage space to spare—which is all of us. Although CitySlips do the same thing for fewer dollars (the"Luxe" leather version sells for $58 at Neiman Marcus), they have a less substantial sole, and can't hold up to miles of walking on an active trip. Trust me. I've tried. Tieks are much hardier than CitySlips.
  • Portability: 9/10. See above. As you've probably heard by now, the shoes fold in half and can be tucked into a large pocket. They might pair well with a Scottevest.
  • Value: 6/10. A price tag of $165 means these shoes cost as much as a night's stay in a decent hotel. But shipping is included!
  • Durability: 8/10. The shoes' sneaker-like sole is ideal for travel.
  • Cool Factor: 10/10. Everything has a cost. In this case, you're paying for well-made shoes, but you're also paying for a label. Tieks, with their distinctive robin's-egg blue sole that peeks out when you walk, are a recognizable brand. Even Oprah wears them.

Final Verdict: We like Tieks. But the brand certainly hasn't cornered the market on comfy travel shoes. Some other cheaper options include Keds Skimmers and Toms; these shoes don't fold in half, though, and they haven't been approved by Oprah. Take your pick.

Editor's Note: Reviews are based on usefulness, portability, durability, value, and "cool factor." Some review products are sent to us free of charge and with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions, positive and negative, and will never accept compensation to review a product. If you have any questions or comments concerning our reviews, or would like to suggest a product for review, please email us at editor@smartertravel.com.

(Photo: SmarterTravel Staff)

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