A Detailed Tieks Review After Four Years of Travel

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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. Fours 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. 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.

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My Tieks

Before I dive into the review here’s a quick overview of the three pairs of Tieks ballet flats I’ve owned in the last four years.

Lilac Classics

Lilac classic Tieks, comfortable ballet flats that are ideal for travelI 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

Brentwood vegan Tieks reviewA 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

A review of Silver Lake vegan TieksIt 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. 

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Tieks Sizing

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 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 recommend 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.

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Tieks Pros

Packaging

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.

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

My Lilac Tieks and the pretty box they arrived in.

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.

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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.

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.

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Comfortable

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 Disneyland California and Tokyo!). They are the shoes I wear most when I’m sightseeing in cities.

Wearing my Brentwood vegan Tieks for long days of walking in Rome

Wearing my Brentwood vegan Tieks for long days of walking in Rome

They are still ballet flats, so I don’t wear them on real hikes and they aren’t quite as comfortable as my 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.

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Portable

Carry on travel packing list including Tieks ballet flats

Everything in my backpack including my Tieks in their small pouch

I travel full-time with one carry-on-size backpack 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).

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Attractive and Versatile

The gorgeous Rose Gold Glam Tieks

The gorgeous Rose Gold Glam Tieks

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.

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. 

Wearing my Brentwood vegan Tieks for a long day at Disneyland California

Wearing my Brentwood vegan Tieks for a long day at Disneyland California

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Durable

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 two 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.

Unfortunately, the insoles are less rugged—see cons below.

Wearing my Silver Lake vegan Tieks in the rice fields of Bali

Wearing my Silver Lake Tieks in the rice fields of Bali

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Less Smelly

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.

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Range of Designs

Moonstruck Tieks - a detailed Tieks review after four years of use

How pretty are the new Moonstruck Tieks?

Oh my, Tieks come in a gorgeous range of 58 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. Some more vegan styles would be welcome.

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Free Shipping and Exchange in the US

Shipping is free within the US. Unworn shoes can be exchanged or returned for free and they cover shipping both ways.

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.

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Tieks Cons

Cost

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. 

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Scuffing

Scuffing on Lilac classic Tieks - an honest review of the best travel ballet flats

Scuffing on Lilac classic Tieks

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.

I have since discovered that it’s possible to touch up the scuffing using a coloured Tarrago shoe cream—here’s a list of polish matches for Tieks colours

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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. 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 do 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.

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Insole Peeling

Insole peeling in vegan Tieks - an honest review

The insoles on my Brentwood Tieks (left) after two years of use and a similar thing started to happen to my new Silver Lake Tieks (right) after a month.

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.

Now after 15 months of wear there are quite large patches where the insole has worn away. This doesn’t affect the comfort but they do look a bit of a mess when I take them off. I’m planning to add some thin insoles to cover it up.

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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.

I ordered my last pair of Tieks to the UK. They were sent by Fed Ex 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).

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Vegan Tieks vs Leather Tieks

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

Vegan Tieks

  • 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
  • Lighter

See the vegan Tieks range here

Silver Lake Vegan Tieks review

Silver Lake Vegan Tieks

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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.

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Where to Buy Tieks

Tieks by Gavrieli are only available to buy online on Tieks.com. Sadly sales are rare.

Explore the Tieks range here

Are you a Tieks fan or have you found another perfect travel ballet flat? Leave a comment below and let us know. 

If you enjoyed this post, pin it!

These might just be the best flats for travel. Here's a full, detailed Tieks review after 4+ years of travel with them.

Are you looking for Christmas gift ideas? See our 47 Useful Gift Ideas for Carry-On Travellers. They are ideal for travel lovers who want to pack light and include something for every budget.

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14 Comments

  1. Hi Erin & Simon,

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    Reply

  2. Your mention of Tieks years ago was one of the reasons I bought a pair. Thank you for the update and comparison of the vegan to leather. Just this week I contacted Tieks about how to give new life to the insole. I’ve been traveling with a patterned leather pair for 4+ years and they still look great. But the insoles need some help. Their customer service team promptly sent a link to an insert that other women have recommended. I love that they didn’t try to sell me a new pair and sent a very personal reply.

    Reply

  3. Thanks, Erin! I’ve been looking for an honest review of Tieks, as I’m trying to decide if they are worth it for travel. I’d love to be able to pack a nice looking foldable pair of shoes. That said, I have long, narrow feet and am a little cautious about spending that kind of money. Yours was the best review I’ve found so far! ~ Lynn

    Reply

    • Thanks Lynn, I’m glad it helped. Everyone’s feet are so different but I hope they work for you. If you are in the US you can always send them back after trying them around the house.

      Reply

  4. I am also a huge fan of Tieks! So far I only have a few pair from the classic line and a pair from the patent line. They have been such a comfy fit and the color choices are amazing. I am hoping to add a vegan pair next!

    Reply

    • I’m glad you love them too Sarah! There are so many gorgeous colours in the leather line! The vegan ones are great for something more casual and summery.

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  5. I keep hearing about these and thinking about getting a pair, but I think this is the best, most thorough review I’ve read. I’m glad you were able to compare the leather ones to the vegan ones. I wear walking/hiking shoes which, let’s face it, are basically sneakers, all the time because just about anything else hurts my feet too easily. But I’d like to have something a little nicer for a few occasions, especially when traveling, so I think I might have to give these a try. Especially if I can have them shipped to my in-laws and have them bring the shoes next time they come to Europe!

    Reply

    • Thanks Ali! It’s definitely nice to have something a bit smarter, especially in Europe. Getting someone to bring them over from the US is a great idea, and I don’t think there’s a time limit on when you return them so if they don’t fit you can get them to take them back.

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  6. Based upon yours and other reviews, I bought a pair of Tiek Greystones for my 10-month carry on adventure in Europe over ’16-’17 to use as my colder weather shoe with both jeans and skirts. I loved how they looked, but they were weirdly both super comfortable and the shoes from hell at the same time. The padded sole makes them very comfortable to walk for hours and hours and hours, especially on European cobblestone. I think my record was walking more than 30KM in one day with them in Sarajevo or Belgrade. But no matter how much I wore them, they made my big toe hurt, even when I had the nail trimmed down. There are lots of other reports of Tieks doing that. I ended up switching to a heavy walking shoe and kept them as “treat” to slip into for going out in the evenings and I also liked them as slippers in my house in Bulgaria that had stone floors. I was disappointed because they really do take up so little space (I actually packed them flat as that seemed to take up much less room) and look so good. Tiek says that I might have better luck with the leather version, since they stretch more, but at their price I doubt I’ll be buying another pair.

    Reply

    • I’m sorry to hear that Rae. I’ve never had any problems with my big toe. I wonder if you needed to go up a size? I found my normal size was a bit too tight and preferred one size up. I’ve also heard some people cut out a piece of moleskin and stick that in the shoe where your toe hits. It might be worth trying as they work so well for you otherwise.

      Reply

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