I’m just going to say it because it’s not something I can help so I shouldn’t have to be ashamed. I have problem feet. Almost all the shoes in the world are uncomfortable for me. They need to meet at least most of my shoe criteria, and even then half of them will turn out to be uncomfortable after a while. I also walk like an elephant and have bunions, so all in all finding shoes is difficult.
I discovered Ziera at the end of last year (a New Zealand company, formerly Kumfs), as they are supposedly known for comfortable and quality shoes. Initially I noted a lot of shoes had partial or full inlays that were removable for personal orthotics. While I don’t have orthotics, this indicated to me that they were indeed more of a specialty shoe brand geared towards comfort shoes and people who might struggle with finding shoes for their particular feet issues. I’ll admit that half the shoes don’t look very “cool”, but there are also a lot of classic looks and more stylish pieces. I’ve picked up three since I discovered them late last year!
For this winter season I wanted to get a pair of simple black flat boots that would be good for walking around in everyday. Initially I had my eye on the Lana in black. When I tried them on, the front looked too wide (almost square) and the brown wooden-looking soles weren’t really my style.
Then I found the Stanford. While I don’t care for the curved stitch running across the front, I don’t dislike it.
This is an orthotic-friendly ankle boot. It contains a full inlay that is fully removable for orthotics. It has a leather outer, synthetic inner and PU soles. Depending on the colour, it is available in either wide or x-wide or both. For example this black leather is available in both widths.
I tried on both the 37.5 x-wide and 38 wide. Width-wise I couldn’t feel a difference in store, although I expect after prolonged wear my feet might. While on, the difference in widths was not obvious visually, and in fact I think the extra width comes from the top more than the sides, so actually it doesn’t look like a wide-fitting shoe at all. Hence I opted for the 37.5 x-wide as the 38 was a little long. (Ziera shoes tend to run a tiny bit small for me. I am usually a size 37.)
The first two days, these shoes felt a bit tight on the sides of the feet where shoes are narrowest and the leather was really stiff at the back of the heel, which caused some painful rubbing. The third time I wore them though, the leather all over had softened a lot and now they are incredibly comfortable – I’ve worn them a few more times since and no rubbing anywhere and overall they are just less tight.
I don’t really feel the inlay and haven’t tried to remove it. It gives a slight arch support which seems insignificant but I know they will make a huge difference by the end of every day (and will be much appreciated). The soles of the shoe are PU which is (according to Ziera) “ideal for comfort and flexibility”, and “millions of tiny air bubbles fom within a PU sole to give unbeatable shock absorption”. The inlay and soles together don’t provide a cushy feel, but I haven’t felt soreness in my feet and definitely notice less pressure and good flexibility on the soles of my feet as I walk. These are the kinds of things which are insignificant at the start of the day but a saviour by the end of the day. The soles have average grip and are sturdy, but not hard on the feet. Annoyingly they squeak on a particular floor surface, but if the soles don’t wear down drastically I don’t expect I should have any slip issues. I may or may not get them soled depending on how they wear on surfaces over time. The sole is 6mm and the heel height is between 20-25mm (slightly curved so the heel is higher at the back of the foot). But when the sole height is taken into account, the heel is actually only 15-25mm. It’s basically flat, but gives a tiny bit of height.
These boots have an elasticated side and a zip on the other side, and are relatively easy to get in and out of but a bit tricky to do hands-free.
I quite like the look of the shoe. Most of the flat and comfortable looking shoes I came across were very low cut at the ankles. I really like how this one comes up a little higher. On top of aesthetics, it is just more practical as rain will be less likely to get into my shoes and get my feet wet. I dislike pointed toe shoes, but this style is between an almond and pointed toe, and somehow I find the look quite versatile and I would be comfortable to dress these with almost all my usual outfits.
The leather is smooth and overall the shoe is amazing quality. I got some specks of mud and rain on it recently, and after wiping with wet tissues, the shoe looks as good as new. I expect the comfort and style of these boots will take me through many years.
Ziera Stanford boots via Stride Shoes $199.95 (only stocks W, but extra 9.6% cashback via CashRewards!)
For first-time shoppers, Ziera gives a $10 discount on signing up. Overall discounts are few and far between, but they occasionally have promotions like discounts for buying two pairs. Generally, season sales would be the best bet – I picked up sandals during summer sales for 25% piled on top of 20% (or close to that). The Ziera outlet also has many lines discounted, including these Stanford boots but in older seasonal colours.