7 San Francisco Brands Making Perfect Flats
There are plenty of women (and a few men) who choose to teeter in high heels on San Francisco streets, but flats are the more practical choice when it comes to negotiating the city's famous hills. That's probably one of the reasons so many shoe brands based in the city specialize in walking shoes. From sneakers to boots to slip-ons, here are the locally-designed shoes that should be on your radar.
There are two types of people in San Francisco: those obsessed with Allbirds, and those who will become obsessed once they try Allbirds. Whether you stick with the O.G. sustainable New Zealand-wool runners or the newer "Tree" shoes, Allbirds are cute, affordable (less than $100), and beyond comfortable. Consider buying one pair for the outside world, and a second pair to wear as slipper in your home.
This almost year-old Bay Area footwear brand works with Italian craftsman to create handmade leather boots, mules, and sandals at a fair price. While the company offers some higher-heeled options, the main attraction is styles you could wear while walking all day, like the Sera Studded Boots, ($265, above). Flat boots are $265, sandals and mules are $198.
Meghan Markle was an early fan, but Birdies continues making waves in the footwear world beyond the Duchess's slippers. Think of Birdies as a younger, cooler version of Palm Beach brand, Stubbs & Wootton. Bright, slip-on mules, embellished with velvet, satin, poms, and/or tassels, ultra-soft, quilted satin footbed, and a rubber sole that's just as practical around the house as it is on the street. At $140, Birdies are pricey for house shoes, but a steal for the finishing touch on your pajama-dressing street style.
Designers Megan Papay and Cristina Palomo-Nelson make chic, comfortable, look-at-me shoes, including their iconic Keen mules ($350, pictured above), which practically every hot young actress and model owns. The magic of Freda Salvador is that your feet will stay happy while you receive tons of compliments from complete strangers. But, at $350-$425, their flats are the most expensive on this list.
Founded by former Puma chief designer Ryan Ringholz, Plae specializes in streamlined leather sneakers priced $80 to $160. These are not your run-of-the-mill runners or slip-ons: the line features tie-less nylon, canvas, and leather kicks, with either lace-up and velcro closures. One of the lesser-known features, however, is the options 3D-printed insoles. If you don't use them, you're doing life wrong.
Another option on the eco-friendly front, Rothy's washable woven flats are made from recycled water bottles. (12 million bottles and counting!) Available in three styles—the flat, the point, and the loafer—they retail for $125-$165. Rothy's proves that sustainability can be cute and comfortable.
Founded by the folks by SF-shoe store chain Shoe Biz, Sutro Footwear styles are designed in San Francisco and produced in Mexico. Sutro makes everyday shoes: options that will look and feel good at the office, and after work for drinks or dinner. Women's boots start at $176 and top out at $218, setting this line firmly in the affordable leather shoe category.