By Alison Freer
Five years ago, I swore off ever wearing any pair of shoes that hurt, pinched, rubbed, crushed, or otherwise caused my feet pain. This meant sending almost $10,000 worth of stiletto heels to various resale shops and thrift stores all across Los Angeles — and amassing a 20-pair-strong collection of comfy Birkenstocks for every occasion and season. (Londons with tights for California winters, rose-gold Arizonas for summer cocktail parties, and shearling Bostons for knocking around the house and yard.) The only way I’ll wear a non-Birkenstock pair of shoes is if a friend gets married.
I thought my Birkenstock collection was complete until I spotted these magical foam-rubber Birkenstock Gizehs. Available in a rainbow of crazy colors, they are made from ecofriendly EVA (a type of dense polymer foam that doesn’t use chlorine in its production) and have almost the same arch support as regular Birkenstocks — for a fraction of the price. They are wildly flexible and far easier to clean than the classic cork-footbed versions — just hose them off and you’re good to go. Unlike most plastic shoes, there aren’t any sharp edges or seams to cut into your feet, and they weigh next to nothing — making them both light on your feet and a dream to pack for travel. (I put them on Instagram, and they blew up about as much as any picture I’ve posted: 229 likes and 46 comments.)
My least favorite part of wearing sandals in the summertime is how dirty they get at the end of a full day of walking around the city (and how filthy they then make my feet) — but these foam Birkenstocks are molded as one solid piece, so they’re effectively sealed against dirt and odor. When I say sealed, I mean that dirt literally refuses to stick, no matter how long you wear them. I’ve even taken an impromptu nighttime hike up a hill in them — and the dirt just dusted right off. All I did was give my foot a shake once we made it back to the sidewalk.
Birkenstock Gizeh Sandals
Buy it: From $25 at Amazon
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