Rothy’s vs Tieks: Which are the Most Comfortable Flats?

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I’ve written before about how Tieks are my favourite flats for travel as they are comfortable, look great, and fold up into a small pouch. I’m currently on my fourth pair and I can wear them all day for city sightseeing or even 12-hour days at Disney.

I really didn’t need a second pair of flats—as a full-time traveller with just a carry-on bag, space is limited. But my friend raved about Rothy’s flats, and once I saw the pointed toe style in my favourite purple colour, I couldn’t resist.

Rothy’s shoes are vegan, machine washable, made from recycled plastic bottles, and come in tons of stylish designs. Meghan Markle even wears them!

Many people claim they are the most comfortable flats they’ve ever worn (including my friend), but I was dubious they could match my beloved Tieks.

In this Tieks vs Rothy’s review, I compare the pros and cons of these two flats after two years of travelling with them both.

Contents

Rothy’s vs Tieks Overview

Rothy’s flats are:

  • Made from recycled plastic bottles (with a few styles made from merino wool)
  • Vegan (except for the merino wool styles)
  • Not foldable
  • Machine washable and have removable insoles
  • Available in six styles including pointed and rounded ballet flats
  • Available in many colours and patterns which change regularly
  • Priced from $125
Erin wearing Rothys Point in mulberry by a banyan tree in Maui
Wearing my Mulberry Point Rothy’s in Maui

Tieks by Gavrieli are:

  • Made from Italian leather or vegan fabric
  • Foldable and come with a pouch to pack them in
  • More difficult to clean
  • Available in one style (rounded toe ballet flat)
  • Available in over 75 colours and patterns including patent, matte, and metallic leather and vegan fabric
  • Priced from $175
Erin wearing silver lake vegan Tieks
Wearing my Silver Lake Vegan Tieks in Austin

Video: Tieks vs Rothy’s

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Style

Both Tieks and Rothy’s are stylish flats that look great.

Tieks are a rounded toe ballet flat with their signature turquoise sole. There are over 75 designs available from classic matte leather to unique shimmering metallic designs and snake prints.

There’s even a Game of Thrones inspired design called the Drago with silver foiled scales. There are five vegan shoes made from fabric.

Some of the many Tieks designs
Some of the many Tieks designs
Tieks classic leather flats come in many vibrant colours
Tieks classic leather flats come in many vibrant colours

I currently have the Silver Lake Vegan Tieks—I love them (especially when they shimmer in the sun), but they are a more casual style. I would happily wear them out to dinner, but they didn’t feel dressy enough for a wedding.

My brand new Silver Lake Vegan Tieks (and the lovely box they came in)
My Silver Lake Vegan Tieks (and the lovely box they came in)

If you are looking for comfortable dressy flats, the leather Tieks come in some stunning styles (I covet the Moonstruck Tieks) which would be suitable for elegant events (brides even wear them at their weddings).

I used to have the Lilac leather Tieks and I loved the colour. My Tieks review has a comparison of the vegan and leather Tieks.

Lilac Tieks ballet flats and box - a detailed Tieks review.
My Lilac Tieks

Rothy’s has a much greater choice of designs for vegans as most of their shoes are made from recycled plastic bottles.

The bottles are hot washed, sterilised, then fused into fibre that is knit into yarn. The fabric is remarkably soft and flexible considering their origin.

They also have a few shoes available made from soft merino wool (not vegan). These have different soles (made from vegan leather) than regular Rothy’s. This review with focus on the fabric Rothy’s. 

You can choose from six styles of flats including The Flat (rounded toe ballet flats), The Point (pointed toe flats), The Loafer, The Mary Jane (pointed flats with bows), The Square (square toe ballet flats), and The Driver (loafer). 

Other Rothy’s styles include sneakers, boots, and flip-flops. They also make sneakers for men and bags made from recycled marine plastic. 

The six Rothy's styles - flat, point, loafer, sneaker, chelsea and mary jane
Various styles of Rothy’s

I have a pair of The Point and love them—they make me feel fancy and are dressier than the vegan Tieks.

I’ve even wore them to weddings in Singapore and New Zealand. I didn’t feel underdressed and it was so nice to feel comfortable all day and night (and I managed a lot better on the grass at the garden ceremony than those in heels).

Some of the Rothy's Point colours and patterns
Some of the Rothy’s Point colours and patterns
Some of the Rothy's Flat designs
Some of the Rothy’s Flat designs

Rothy’s don’t come in as wide a variety of designs as Tieks, but there are still many different colours and patterns from solids in black or chili red to unusual embroidered patterns and leopard prints.

I have the Mulberry Rothy’s which are purple with gold embroidery on the toe. I haven’t seen any shoes like them before and adore them.

My mulberry Rothys pointed comfortable flats
My Mulberry Point Rothy’s

Rothy’s soles are dark and neutral, which some people might prefer to the vibrant turquoise soles of Tieks, especially if you need comfortable work flats for a more conservative workplace.

Rothy’s designs change frequently, so if you see a pair you like, don’t wait! My Mulberry Rothy’s are no longer available.

They do sometimes bring back old favourites, so it’s worth checking their website regularly or signing up to their newsletter.

Winner: Tie

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Sizing

Rothy’s flats come in half sizes, whereas Tieks shoes are only available in full sizes. Both shoes can be a little tricky to get the right fit, but they offer free exchanges within the US.

I’ve found I need to go up a size in both styles. I am usually a US size 8 and while the Tieks size 8 fit OK, they felt a little tight and I went up to a 9 for my second and subsequent pairs. If you have wide feet, Tieks also advises going up a size.

Most women go up a half size in the Rothy’s Point style to allow more space around the toes. I decided on an 8.5 which felt a little big at first, but I soon appreciated the extra toe space and I think they were the right call.

However, some readers have recommended going up a full size in the Point. 

For wide feet Rothy’s advises going up a half size if your foot is wider than a B—a full size in the Point is probably a good idea.

Rothy’s says that their shoes do not stretch over time, so if they are snug, exchange them for a half size larger.

Leather Tieks do stretch out over time as they are designed to mould to your feet, so if they are a little tight they might be OK after a few days.

Rothy’s and Tieks both have kids sizes.

Winner: Tie

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Break-In Time

The remarkable thing about my Tieks was how I had no break-in period. They are the only flats I’ve ever had that fit me right away with no blisters or cuts. One of my four pairs did rub slightly on the first day, but they didn’t break the skin.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have as good as experience with Rothy’s. While Rothy’s claims there is no break-in period with their shoes, there was for me.

On my first day of wearing them, the back of the shoe cut into one of my heels and drew blood. I wore them with band-aids for the next few days and after that I didn’t have any more rubbing.

My friend did not have a break-in period with her Rothy’s, whereas some people do with Tieks, so unfortunately this one really comes down to your feet.

Winner: Tieks

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Comfort

As much as I love the look of both Tieks and Rothy’s, for me the priority is comfort. I can only travel with a few pairs of shoes and I need a pair of comfy flats that work well for long days of walking.

So are Tieks and Rothy’s comfortable?

Tieks have always been really comfortable for me. I frequently wear them for days exploring the cobbled streets of Rome or enjoying Disney.

They are by far the most comfortable ballet flats I’ve ever owned and are totally different from the flimsy ballet flats I’d previously worn.

The non-skid rubber soles are thicker than most ballet flat soles and feel bouncy. The backs are cushioned rather than elasticised so they don’t constrain your heel.

Wearing my Tieks for a long day of sightseeing in Kyoto, Japan
Wearing my Tieks for a long day of sightseeing in Kyoto, Japan

My first impression of Rothy’s was that they didn’t feel as bouncy or as comfortable as my Tieks.

After I’d broken them in, though, they did feel more comfortable and I happily wore them out for a few hours of walking or to a wedding (with a mix of standing and sitting).

Wearing my Rothy's for a stroll in a park in Tokyo
Wearing my Rothy’s for a stroll in a Tokyo park

I decided the real test would be Disney as we are often in the parks for 12 hours and can walk 10 miles or more.

We were spending two days at Tokyo Disneyland and I planned to wear Tieks one day and Rothy’s the other. By this stage my Rothy’s were well worn in and I bought them at the same time as my latest Tieks.

Wearing my Tieks at Tokyo Disney Sea
Wearing my Tieks at Tokyo Disney Sea

On day one I wore my Tieks all day and had no problems—my feet felt fine at the end of the long day.

On day two I wore my Rothy’s. In the morning I was fine, but by mid-afternoon my feet were achy, my little toe on one foot felt cramped, and the back of the heel had started to rub.

Wearing my Rothy's at Tokyo Disneyland
Wearing my Rothy’s at Tokyo Disneyland

I didn’t want to continue wearing them, so after we returned to our hotel for a break, I switched into my Tieks for the evening and my feet instantly felt better.

The Tieks definitely won the Disney test—they are the best flats for walking and my go-to for long days out.

I still love my Rothy’s, though, and I prefer the look, so they are my choice for dinners out and half day trips where we won’t be walking so much.

Note that neither flats offers arch support, but you could try adding your own insole on either.

Winner: Tieks

If you are looking for a comfortable walking shoe, see my Allbirds Wool Runners review. These are my new favourite travel shoes for short hikes or when it’s too cold for Tieks.

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Smell

I’ve found that Tieks and Rothy’s are evenly matched when it comes to odour resistance. I wear them without socks and haven’t found either get very smelly, unlike cheap flats I’ve had in the past.

Some Rothy’s reviews say that the shoes can become smelly if you wear them every day continuously (which I haven’t done), but you can always swap out or wash the insoles if this is a problem.

I wouldn’t say either of them are totally odour-free, but even if at the end of a hot sweaty day they smell a little, the next day they’ll be fine.

Winner: Tie

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Cleaning

Rothy’s are definitely easier to clean than Tieks. Amazingly they are machine washable, so you just remove the insoles and throw the shoes and insoles in the wash (in cold water on a delicate cycle) and they come out looking new.

I haven’t needed to wash them yet, but my friend has multiple times with no issues. Don’t wash them in hot water or put them in the dryer as heat causes them to shrink.

I’ve found that dirt sponges off easily if you just want to clean a certain area. I’ve managed to easily remove blood (when they rubbed my heel at first) and mud (after wearing them after a torrential downpour in Thailand).

Rothy’s also have removable insoles (and you can buy replacements), so you can just wash these if you find they are getting smelly. This isn’t something I’ve had to do yet.

One downside of the insoles is that I can feel the edge of them under my feet, which becomes more pronounced after wearing them for a long time. It’s not a big deal, but I prefer the smoother feel of Tieks’s built-in insoles.

The unique knit material of the Rothy’s is designed to dry quickly if it gets wet, so they are the best ballet flats for wearing in the rain.

Cleaning Tieks depends on the style you have. Patent and matte leather Tieks can be wiped off easily, but my fabric vegan Tieks are harder to clean. It doesn’t help that I have a light silver grey colour that does get dirty (I wear them in all conditions).

I usually clean them with a sponge and slightly soapy water, but eventually the discolouration gets too much. I typically replace them after about two years, primarily because they are looking too dirty.

Winner: Rothy’s

Wearing my Rothys in Kyoto
Wearing my Rothys in Kyoto

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Durability

I’ve found Tieks very durable and I usually wear each pair for at least two years before replacing them—and I wear them a lot in that time. I have never had any issues with the soles or any holes in the soles or uppers.

The toe and heels do scuff after a while and I’ve found the surface of the vegan insoles peels off. I end up replacing them for aesthetic rather than functional reasons.

I’ve had my Rothy’s for two years (but only wear them occasionally) and they still look as good as new—the plastic fabric and rubber soles seem very durable.

Winner: Tie 

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Packing

Tieks are the most packable travel flats as they fold in half and pack inside a small pouch that comes with them. This means they take up very little space inside my backpack.

They are designed to be a comfortable replacement for your heels at the end of a night (they come with a tote bag for the heels) and you could even fit them in a purse to change into.

Rothy’s don’t fold so they take up more room in my luggage, but they are a little lighter than my vegan Tieks. A pair of Rothy’s weighs 9.3oz (264g) and vegan Tieks weigh 10.5oz (300g).

Winner: Tieks

Wearing my Tieks in the rice fields of Bali
Wearing my Tieks in the rice fields of Bali

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Shipping and Returns

Tieks and Rothy’s both offer free shipping and returns within the US, but the Tieks policy is better.

Tieks uses USPS Priority Mail for their free shipping and shoes arrive in about 2–4 days. Even when I shipped them to the UK (which incurs a fee), I received them in two working days.

Rothy’s uses USPS Standard Ground which takes 5–10 business days. If you want your shoes in 2–3 days, you’ll have to pay an extra $25. In practice it can be quicker—I ordered with standard shipping on a Monday and received them on Thursday.

For Rothy’s, you must return the shoes within 30 days for a refund or exchange. Tieks don’t have a time limit as long as they are in original condition.

Tieks are better for exchanges as they will send you the new pair before you return the previous pair so that you can compare two sizes side by side.

Tieks will ship internationally for a fee.

Rothy’s now only ship to the US and Canada (international delivery may return). 

Winner: Tieks 

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Price

Tieks cost $175 for the vegan and classic leather styles and from $200–300 for many of the metallic and snake print designs.

Rothy’s cost $125 for The Flat and $145 for The Point. 

Rothy’s also offers a 20% discount for teachers and healthcare workers on certain styles. 

Neither company has sales, even on Black Friday.

Neither Tieks nor Rothy’s are cheap, but I believe in quality over quantity when it comes to clothes. I’m happy to pay more for an excellent pair of comfortable flat shoes that meet all my needs and last for years.

Winner: Rothy’s

Wearing Rothys comfortable flats in the cherry blossoms of Okayama, Japan

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Where to Buy Rothy’s

Rothy’s can be bought on their online store Rothy’s.com or from their small retail stores in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Washington DC, and Boston. The full collection is only available online.

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Where to Buy Tieks

Tieks by Gavrieli can only be bought on their online store Tieks.com.

See my detailed Tieks review if you’d like more information.

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Rothy’s vs Tieks: Which are the Best Flats?

Both Rothy’s and Tieks are stylish, high-quality shoes that are more comfortable and durable than an average pair of flats.

For me, Tieks are the most comfortable flats and the ones I can wear all day without pain, so if I had to choose just one pair, I’d go with Tieks. They are also more packable and take up less space in my luggage.

I love the wider range of vegan designs that Rothy’s offers, and especially their chic pointed flats. I also appreciate the ability to machine wash Rothy’s and they work better in the rain.

They are great for dinners out and special occasions but aren’t comfortable enough for me for all day wear. 

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Other Shoes I Love

Allbirds Flats

Erin wearing Allbirds Tree Breezers in Poppy on deck in Bay of Islands, New Zealand
Wearing my Allbirds Tree Breezers in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand

I have new favourite ballet flats—the Allbirds Tree Breezers!

They are ultra comfortable, cheaper and lighter than both Tieks or Rothy’s, and made from sustainable fabric. They are machine washable flats like Rothy’s.

The only downside is that the soft upper made from knitted fabric (from eucalyptus trees) has a more casual look than the other flats.

A huge bonus is that you can try them for free for 30 days (even wearing them outside!) and return them if they don’t work for you.

They are available in more countries worldwide including the US, Canada, UK, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and some parts of Asia. 

See my Allbirds flats review for more details and a comparison with Tieks and Rothy’s. 

Allbirds Sneakers and Running Shoes

Allbirds Wool Runners in natural grey worn on the beach
My Wool Runners have been perfect for winter beach walks

I also recommend Allbirds Wool Runners for comfortable walking shoes in cooler weather. They are a more casual, sneaker-type style than Tieks or Rothy’s ballet flats, but a pair of each is a great combo for travel.

See my Allbirds review for more details. 

The Allbirds Tree Dashers are what I use for running as they have more support than the Allbirds Runners (despite the name). 

Teva Sandals

While they might not be the most stylish sandals, I love my Teva Verras. They are very comfortable, supportive, waterproof, and perfect for hiking in hot weather and watersports. 

You can see all the clothes and shoes Simon and I travel with in my carry-on packing list

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Wondering which flats are the best for travel? Here's a review of the two post popular -- Tieks vs Rothy's! #packlight #packingtips #femalepackingtips

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