So after I wrote up my TOMS-fan-girl post, a reader left a comment letting me know TOMS aren't really doing as much good as they advertise (but they at least gotta be better than stores like Aldo or Nike right? Ahh just trying to justify them). Anyway I read through the link she sent (also here if you want to take a read), and though I was bummed about the news about TOMS (and I decided that now I know, I should change my shopping habits accordingly), I saw that they cited Nisolo as a shoe company that does it right (they work directly with shoe-makers in Peru and provide fair wages). I've seen the name Nisolo pop-up once or twice before so I decided to try them out. And here's the tl;dr version of this review: as much as I would like to love them (because of their mission statement and social work) I can't really get behind their products (yet). I'm not trying to be unkind but I gotta be honest here, their shoes weren't that great for me. Let me explain:
The first pair I tried were the Smoking Shoes. I got them in a size 8 and it fit well (I'm normally a size 7.5 but have widish feet so I usually size a half size up on leather shoes to avoid the whole breaking in process). I love how they look and I like the padded inner sole and the arch support. But the problem was where the inner beige leather meets the outer black leather shoe. The edges were uneven and scratchy, and it would irritate all around my foot with each step. Also the leather quality itself on this shoe was not that great (but that could just be because I've been spoiled by the Italian leather shoes from Everlane?). The quality of the shoe overall just wasn't up to par (or they just need better quality control).
The second pair of shoes I tried were the Elizabeth slides. They are perfect for that 70's look that seems to be going around these days. So here's my problems with these shoes:
- Well first, I ordered a 7.5 (because on their site they warn that the leather will stretch out so size a half size smaller than you normally would-so for me that's true to size since I always size a half size up for leather shoes). But they gave me a 7. And on top of that I wasn't careful enough when trying on these shoes so I ended up scuffing the bottom (which is a light beige leather). So I'm going to have to keep these and the moral of the story is if the bottom of the shoe is a light color try it out on carpet only.
- And the leather on these also didn't feel like the best quality either and I'm not sure how much they'll stretch out. When I get a chance (and when my freezer clears out), I'm going to try the same freezer method I tried on my Everlane modern loafers. But as it looks now, the slide is a bit small for me. Since I'm keeping it, I will see if the leather truly does stretch out or not. And at least there's no bit of stitching or leather that irritate my feet on these.
Ah well, my final verdict for Nisolo: even though the company really seems to care about their social mission, they will need to improve their overall quality of their products before I can truly become a fan. This isn't to say they can't improve their products with time (or that other styles of their shoes might be of better quality, since the slides were definitely better made than the smoking shoe).
Also read here another blogger's review on Nisolo (and a different sort of quality problems she faced (and remedied)).