I know. A bit tongue-in-cheek for those that know my wife dresses me. Out of sheer social necessity. But sandals? That’s something I know a thing or two about. Review, here I come.
I discovered Vere Sandals last week. They liked a vintage photo I posted on Instagram of my father-in-law in Letchworth State Park from the ’70s. Intrigued, I clicked on their profile and saw cool sandals-in-process pics. And then a pic of what looked a lot like the Finger Lakes. As a guy who grew up in the beautiful wine-country region on central NY, I can spot a tree-speckled horizon of waterfront property a mile away. Sure enough, their company location read “Geneva, NY.”
Wait, wait. Good looking sandals, hand made in Geneva, NY? And no, Geneva, NY isn’t code for some NYC burrow filled with migrant workers.
But they’re probably expensive.
So I jumped on their website and immediately went searching for a price point.
$34 for foamies, $54 for leathers.
That’s as much, if not cheaper than what I pay for my Reefs (two pair annually).
OK, but they probably feel like crap.
Why am I so jaded?
Only one way to overcome this consumer bias. So I bought a pair of Men’s Louie Sandals in black and blue, size 10. They arrived at my PO Box a few days later.
The sparse packaging was cool, and reemphasized the slogan I’d seen on their sight: “Made here. Made better.” Another personal touch was the hand written note from Mike. Not sure who Mike is, but he cared enough to just not stuff a receipt in the padded envelope. Nice touch.
I’m a smell guy, so the scent of newly pressed foam and needle-point-nylon wafted out of the envelope. My designer eye scanned the lines for imperfections, thinking somehow that handmade meant shoddy. Wrong. From the laser engraved heel emblem to the flawless trim lines, these beauties were well executed. Even the bright blue Vere logo on the sandal strap was understated but purposeful.
I happened to be on our sail boat in port (#1000Islands), so what better time to test them out? I flicked off my trusty-dusty Reefs from last season, and eased on the new Veres.
First impressions were of pulling on a new glove. Fairly tight, but by no means uncomfortable. I forgot that I was coming from well-worn Reefs with a solid synthetic strap. The Veres have a woven strap that seemed to expand slightly with my foot.
I won’t lie, the tight fit scared me. Then I started thinking maybe I should’ve purchased 11s as the 10s left little room behind the heel or in front of the toe. The only problem was that they felt good. Really good.
I took a stroll down our dock, immediately feeling the subtle support built into the multilayers of foam. This was different. I also tend to walk slightly pigeon toed, so my heels wear to the inside of a sandal; but looking down, I noticed the sandal was staying right in line with my awkward foot-angle.
With a few passes in our marina, I started to wonder if I really needed all the extra real estate I always purchase with my Reefs. Because these sandals felt a lot less like sandals, and more like…
But with comfort built in.
In fact, they fit so well, I could actually feel that my right foot was bigger than the left (which it is). Where the left strap felt perfect, the right strap felt a little too tight. And for the first 24 hours of wearing them, I felt a slight rub on the inside of my right foot. It was annoying, but I reminded myself that: a) I’d come front a different style sandal, and b) they hadn’t broken in yet.
I posted a quick pic on Instagram, and a few minutes later @veresandals was talking back. More nice.
I stopped by a friend’s house in Rochester, NY yesterday. He immediately noticed the new treads and asked, “May I?” I acquiesced, and the moment his foot went in (also a size 10), he looked up surprised. “They feel great!”
“I know,” I replied with a smile. “They’re Veres. And they’re made an hour from you.”
The most starling Vere discovery, however, came after a full day of use. I was sitting on the couch talking with Jenny when I scratched my foot. A second later, I wiped my nose (come on, you all do stuff like this too). But something was missing.
The horrid foot-stink.
I was literally so shocked (remember, I’m a smell guy), I buried my nose in my toes. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I looked over at my Reefs by the front door and could practically smell the cow manure stench they give off after a day’s use. Granted, it could be because the Veres are new; I half expect them to stink by week’s end. But every pair of Reefs I’ve ever purchased smelled the first day.
By the end of my second day, the right side strap-rub was all but gone. And that’s when I had to make the big decision. Do I take them to France with me or not? What footwear you bring overseas is a big deal if you’re a frequent traveler. It can often make or break your trip. Jenny was packing my suit case and saw me deliberating. “Take the ones that don’t smell,” she said.
And I did.
I’m sitting on the plane heading overseas wearing my Veres and packing my Merrel shoes. The deal is sealed.
My next pair of sandals will be Veres. And the pair after that. If they keep making great products, employing my neighbors, and valuing their materials usage (including disposal) like they do, I can’t imagine buying anything else.
Can’t wait to try their leather sandals—that’s next.
If you buy some, tell them Christopher sent you. I don’t get a thing from it, I just like being personable with a company that treats me personally. Then come back here and share your story.
UPDATE: In the time it took me to publish this post, Vere got back to me via Instagram about why my feet don’t smell. Classy.