Tieks by Gavrieli are not your average ballet flats. They are Oprah’s favourite ballet flats and have developed a cult following amongst thousands of women.
I’m not usually into designer shoes, but Tieks are special. I only own three pairs of shoes—running shoes, hiking sandals, and ballet flats—so it’s important that the ones I do have are comfortable, versatile, and durable.
I used to travel with cheap, flimsy ballet flats that hurt my feet and fell apart quickly in the rugged conditions I wore them in.
Seven years ago I tried my first pair of Tieks and they were a revelation. Not only did they look beautiful, but the cushioned rubber soles were supportive enough for a day’s sightseeing on cobbled streets in Rome or Paris. They’ve been my primary shoes ever since.
They’re not perfect—no shoes are—so in this Tieks review I’ll be writing honestly about their pros and cons and ultimately whether they are worth the high price.
Note: This review was originally published in 2017 and was updated in 2020. I’ll keep updating the post as I continue to wear my Tieks around the world.
- My Tieks
- Tieks Sizing
- Tieks Pros
- Tieks Cons
- Vegan Tieks vs Leather Tieks
- Are Tieks Worth it?
- Where to Buy Tieks
Before I dive into the review here’s a quick overview of the four pairs of Tieks ballet flats I’ve owned in the last seven years.
I received my first pair of Tieks in 2013—the matte leather Lilac Classics. They were sent to me free of charge by Tieks in exchange for writing about them.
I absolutely loved the bright purple colour, and they were the first pair of shoes I’d owned in years that received many compliments.
Brentwood Vegan Tieks
A year later I contacted Tieks—through their customer service team, not via my PR contact—about whether there was anything I could do about the scuffing on the toe of my Lilac Tieks. They offered to send me another pair free of charge—very impressive customer service!
This time I chose the beige Brentwood Vegan Tieks which are made from fabric rather than leather. They didn’t look quite as good as my purple ones, but they were lighter and cooler in hot weather and the neutral colour went with everything.
I travelled with my Brentwoods for two years and although the soles and uppers were still in good condition with no holes, the fabric was looking rather dirty and was difficult to clean.
They also didn’t feel quite as comfortable as they used to and I wondered if the soles had lost some of their springiness.
Silver Lake Vegan Tieks
It was time for a new pair and there was no way I was going back to regular ballet flats. This time I not only paid for them myself but forked out for the shipping and customs costs to get them sent to the UK.
It was worth it and my Silver Lake Vegan Tieks are my favourite pair so far—I love how they shimmer in the sun. I think they look more attractive than the Brentwoods but are neutral enough to go with everything.
My second pair of Silver Lake Tieks
I wore my Silver Lake Tieks solidly for 2.5 years before I replaced them with the same pair in December 2018 (again paying for them myself).
My old Tieks were still comfortable and the soles and uppers intact, but they had some cosmetic issues (see cons below). I loved getting the shimmer back with my new shoes and they were comfortable straight out of the box.
Over a year later and my new Silver Lake Tieks still look great.
Tieks only come in whole sizes and are supposed to run true to size. I recommend going up a size if you are usually a half size. I am a UK size 6, which is usually a US 8. My first pair of Tieks were a size 8, but they were a little tight and I’m more comfortable in a US 9.
If you have wide feet, Tieks recommends you go up a size.
Tieks has a great exchange policy (see below) so you can try a variety of sizes for free until you find the perfect fit (just don’t wear them outside).
OK, this is a trivial thing, but I have to give a shout out to the gorgeous packaging Tieks arrive in along with a personalised note. It makes it feel like Christmas.
The shoes come with a pouch to store them in and a nylon tote bag designed to carry your heels in after swapping into your Tieks at the end of the night. I use the tote bag to store my running shoes in my backpack.
Quick to Break In
Tieks are the only flats that fit me right away with no blisters or cuts. In the past I had to endure a painful week-long breaking in period where the cheap flats rubbed my feet so much that they bled and I used dozens of plasters until they softened up.
Tieks have never made my feet bleed or blister. That said, each pair has been different to break in.
My first pair of leather Tieks were a bit tight for the first few days as the leather is designed to stretch and mould to fit your feet. So, if your Tieks feel tight at first, don’t panic, they will stretch out.
I decided to go up a size for my second pair as vegan Tieks don’t have the same stretching effect. My Brentwood Tieks fit perfectly right away with no issues at all.
Strangely, my Silver Lake Vegan Tieks took a little longer to wear in, even though they are the same design. The back of one shoe felt stiff and rubbed at first but after two days of walking around London I had no more problems.
Even more strangely, I didn’t have the same issues with my second pair of Silver Lake Vegan Tieks and had no break-in period.
It really does depend on your feet and some people require a longer breaking in period. I recommend wearing them around the house at first (perhaps wearing socks to stretch them a little) so that you can swap sizes or styles if they aren’t working for you.
Each style has a different fit. I’ve heard that the patent and faux snakeskin designs are harder to break in than the softer classic leather.
Tieks are by far the most comfortable flats I’ve ever owned. The cushioned non-skid rubber soles (in their signature turquoise) are thicker than most ballet flat soles and feel bouncy. The backs are cushioned rather than elasticised so they don’t feel too tight at the heel.
I can wear them all day long whether it’s a 10-mile walk on the cobbled streets of Rome or twelve hours at Disney (I’ve worn them at Disney in Florida, California, and Tokyo!). They are the shoes I wear most when I’m sightseeing in cities.
They are still ballet flats, so I don’t wear them on real hikes and they aren’t quite as comfortable as my Teva Verra hiking sandals.
Everyone’s feet are different and if you need a lot of arch support they might not be the best option for you. I have heard that some people with feet issues like plantar fasciitis have found that Tieks are the only flats they can wear.
If you are looking for more of a sneaker that is good for short hikes, I love my Allbirds Wool Runners. They are soft and cosy, can be worn without socks, and are lightweight enough to pack easily. It’s what I wear when it’s too cold for my Tieks. See my Allbirds review for more details.
I travel full-time with only carry-on luggage so portability is essential to me and is one of the reasons I love Tieks so much.
Tieks fold in half and are compressed into a compact pouch so they don’t take up much space in my bag. They aren’t heavy either—my vegan pair weighs 300g (10.5oz).
Attractive and Versatile
My Tieks are ideal when I want a smart pair of shoes. They are what I wear for evenings out, sightseeing in stylish cities, on winery visits, and when the weather turns too cool for sandals.
When you’re travelling, multi-purpose items are essential for packing light. Tieks can be dressed up or down and look just as great with jeans or a dress. I even took them to a wedding to change into for the evening’s dancing (after borrowing my mum’s heels for the day).
The only time I don’t wear my Tieks is on the rare occasions we go somewhere with a temperature of below 10ºC (50ºF). Tieks, especially the vegan ones, are also not ideal for rainy weather.
I do often end up wearing them in the rain, though, and besides getting a bit dirty, they’ve been fine. They even survived walking through deep flooding in southern Italy when the cobbled streets couldn’t handle a sudden heavy downpour.
It’s also convenient to travel with a pair of slip-on shoes in places like Japan where you have to take your shoes on and off a lot at temples and restaurants.
They are the shoes I wear most on planes too, as they are easy to slip off when going through airport security.
My Tieks have lasted very well despite being folded up constantly, stuffed in my bag, taken to dozens of countries, and worn in all kinds of situations.
I am tough on them and wear them in conditions they aren’t really designed for—on dirt and rocky paths and out in the rain. The uppers and soles are remarkably durable and I’ve never had any holes in the structure, even after over two and a half years of constant wear.
This is important to me as I’m often in remote places where it’s not possible to find replacement shoes. In Mexico I once got holes in the soles of my cheap flats and had to tape them up with gaffa tape! I don’t have to worry about that with Tieks.
I wouldn’t go so far to say that my Tieks never smell but given that I wear them without socks in hot, sweaty weather they are remarkably odour free.
They definitely don’t retain odour in the same way that my previous flats did. While they might smell a little at the end of a long day, the next day they’ll be fine.
Range of Designs
Oh my, Tieks come in a gorgeous range of over 70 colours and designs. Whether you want simple black or glamorous gold, there’s something for everyone—choose your favourite here.
Most Tieks are leather but they do have five styles in the vegan range. While I love my Silver Lakes, I do kind of wish I didn’t feel the need to avoid leather (as a vegetarian) as there are some seriously stunning leather designs like the shimmering iridescent Lovestruck and Moonstruck Tieks.
There’s even a Game of Thrones inspired pair called the Drago which are black with foiled scales in silver with hints of glacial blue. So unique!
Some more vegan styles would be welcome. The limited range of leather-free styles is one of the reasons I recently bought a pair of Rothy's in their Point style. I wanted something to wear to a wedding and my vegan Tieks felt too casual. See my Tieks vs Rothy’s review for a detailed comparison.
They even make Tieks for young girls now.
Free Shipping and Exchange in the US
Shipping is free within the US. Unworn shoes can be exchanged or returned for free at any time and they cover shipping both ways.
Tieks uses USPS Priority Mail for their free shipping and shoes arrive in about 2–4 days. I even received them in two days when I shipped them to the UK (which isn’t free).
If you are unsure about the fit, you can request a different size and Tieks lets you keep both pairs while you decide which fits best, without charging you for the second pair.
The biggest downside is that Tieks are expensive. The vegan and classic leather Tieks cost $175, patents cost $195, and many of the metallic and snake print designs cost from $200 to $300. Yep, the price tag is painful.
I loved my purple leather Tieks, but the toes and heel scuffed quite quickly and got worse over time. This is probably the way that I walk (I really don’t treat them carefully), but it was disappointing for such an expensive pair of shoes. The patent Tieks are apparently less likely to scuff.
Cleaning Vegan Tieks
Scuffing isn’t a problem with the textile vegan Tieks, although there is a little unnoticeable wearing at the very tip of the toe and heel.
The main problem I’ve had is with discolouration as both my fabric Tieks have been light colours and they aren’t as easy to clean as leather. I try with soapy water and a sponge, but after a year or so of wear they don’t look their best.
The Greystone vegan Tieks probably wouldn’t have this problem, but the dark colour and wool-like look aren’t ideal for summer wear.
Update: Insole peeling was an issue with earlier pairs of vegan Tieks, but my latest pair hasn’t had the same problem even after a year.
My biggest disappointment with my third pair of Tieks was after a month of use the surface of the insole started peeling off. This was probably because I was walking a lot in Europe during a heat wave and my bare feet were sweating and sticking to the insole, but again, it’s still disappointing with an expensive pair of shoes.
After over two years of wear there were quite large patches where the insole had worn away. This didn’t affect the comfort, but they did look a bit of a mess when I took them off. I could have tried these insoles that have been recommended by other Tieks users (they are leather though), but I ended up buying a new pair.
The insole problem primarily affects vegan Tieks as the insoles aren’t made from leather.
The insoles in my latest pair of vegan Tieks are different and I think the issue has been resolved. After over a year of wear, they look much better than my previous pair with just a tiny patch of wear in the heel.
Expensive Shipping Outside US
If you don’t live in the US, international shipping is expensive and you’ll also have to pay customs tax.
When I ordered a pair of Tieks to the UK they were sent by FedEx International Priority which cost $31.72 and came very quickly—I ordered on Friday and they arrived on Monday. A few weeks later I was sent an invoice for the customs fee which was an extra £24 (£12.44 VAT and £12 FedEx fee).
Vegan Tieks vs Leather Tieks
- A huge variety of colours and styles
- Dressier look
- The Italian leather is designed to mould to your feet for the perfect fit
- Kept my feet drier in rain
- Felt warmer in hot weather
- Easier to clean
- Prone to scuffing
- Cruelty free
- Made from fabric
- Five styles available
- More casual look
- Slightly looser fit
- My feet get soaked quickly in the rain
- Cooler and more breathable in hot weather
- Insoles prone to peeling (although it’s less of an issue in the latest versions)
Are Tieks Worth it?
Tieks ballet flats are the most expensive shoes I’ve ever bought, but for me, they are definitely worth it.
When you spend hours on your feet out exploring it’s vital to have a quality pair of shoes. Tieks are the ideal travel ballet flats—they are comfortable, portable, durable, versatile, and stylish.
Ultimately, I choose quality over quantity—I’d rather pay more for a few pair of shoes that work perfectly for me.
Are Tieks worth it for you? If you can afford it, I recommend giving them a try. They don’t work for everyone but take advantage of the excellent returns policy and try a few styles and sizes around the house. If you find the perfect fit, treat yourself—your feet will thank you.
Where to Buy Tieks
Tieks by Gavrieli are only available to buy online on Tieks.com. They can’t be bought in any physical stores or on other online retailers like Amazon. Sadly, they don’t do sales.
Are you a Tieks fan or have you found another perfect travel ballet flat? Leave a comment below and let us know.
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