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A 'Heel that Feels Like a Sneaker Inside'?
This review is unsponsored. I am not receiving any compensation from Antonia Saint NY. (The link provided to the Antonia Saint NY website is not an affiliate link). Also, rest assured, there will be no pictures of my feet in this post!
They say that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. That didn't stop me from excitedly ordering a pair of heels that allegedly feel like sneakers on the inside, Antonia Saint NY's Custom Fit Victoria Essential High Heels ($236 usd) via Kickstarter, during their initial offering last fall.
Comfortable (or even just tolerable) high heels are like the holy grail of women's footwear. And, after many years of searching, I'd nearly given up.
Then I saw an ad for these 'high tech' custom fit heels on my Facebook feed last fall, and hope was renewed. These three-inch heels had an innovative-looking, foam-padded insole dubbed the 'SoftSurround System,' which is purported to make the inside of these heels feel like sneakers. A powerful advertising slogan, if ever there was one!
The shoes are also custom made based on measurements and photos of your feet sent in via their foot-scanning app. (As someone who is generally put off by feet, I pity whoever's on the receiving end of this operation):
Screen shot of the Antonia Saint NY foot scanning app.
Using the app proved to be quite difficult at first: one of the steps involves photographing your feet while standing on a white sheet of paper; my photos kept getting rejected and I couldn't figure out why---I probably spent half-an-hour varying the lighting, angle and distance at which I was holding my phone, trying to get the perfect shot.
Fed up (and having realized that I was in desperate need of a pedicure), I visited the company's Facebook page, which revealed that others were having similar issues. Turns out, it was related to the iPhone X camera not being compatible with the app software. Once this was remedied, the process of sending in my measurements and foot pics went off without a glitch.
I opted into Antonia Saint NY's Kickstarter campaign in November, submitted my measurements in January, and received my shoes mid-March, as part of the company's inaugural shipment.
I posted this very basic YouTube unboxing video prior to this review, if you’re into that sort of thing:
This was my first ever YouTube video!
Inside the shipping box, each shoe was packaged in its own individual shoebox.
I was impressed by these heels right out of the box: they have a beautiful, classic silhouette and a sturdy, well-made feel. Most importantly, they look identical to what was promised on the website.
The exterior is a convincingly leather-like microfibre with just the right amount of sheen, and there is a rubber outsole intended to add shock absorption. It also provides a bit of added grip.
Though there's a seam overlying the instep, it isn't particularly noticeable and doesn't detract from the overall appearance of the shoe.
The heel, which is made of 'ballistic nylon,' has a Kevlar-like quality to it. I can see these standing up to nicks, as advertised.
Slipping them on, I appreciate the cushiony, padded insoles. They are, in fact, reminiscent of the inside of a running shoe, or even an orthotic insole! As someone with flat arches, this is something I highly value in a shoe.
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So, How'd They Fit?
Having worn them around the house for about an hour, my feet are nowhere near running-shoe-happy. Not that I was expecting the comfort level of a three-inch stiletto to be just like that of a running shoe, or even a ballerina flat (no matter what patent-pending technology is utilized in the insole)! I thought for the price and technology, they'd at least be as comfortable as my Cole Haan pumps, which (at less than half the price of the Antonia Saint NY heels) are the most comfortable, cushioned high heels I've ever owned!
Cole Haan pumps (currently $90 on Amazon). Spoiler alert: these are still the most comfortable high heels I've worn to date.
The soles of my feet weren't in any pain after an hour in these shoes: no small feat (pun not intended) for three-inch-heels. And, I've never had a high heel with this much cushioning at the balls and arches before!
There isn't any uncomfortable rubbing or blistering over my Achilles tendon (which is my typical harbinger of an ill-fitting shoe). So, the ‘SoftSurround’ technology seems to be doing its job there.
My big toes feel a little squished against the inside of the shoe. However, this is to be expected, to a certain extent, in any heel with such a tapered toe box. (Though, these were advertised as having 'a deeper toe box for more room around the toes.')
On my left foot, the base of my little toe is sore from rubbing on the inner corner of the shoe. This isn't usually a problem area for me, and the fact that this is happening after only an hour makes me second guess how carefully I traced my feet for the app (or, how accurately the app measurements translate into the finished product).
The instructions advise that over time the 'technology will conform to the shape of your feet' and that 'they will get even more comfortable with each use.' However, the exchange policy is voided by wearing the shoes outdoors or enough to scuff the the soles. So, your ability to test this theory is limited.
After a couple of hours of wearing these around the house (admittedly, mostly seated), I don't think they'll get any more comfortable in my problem areas.
I don't think I can overstate how desperately I wanted these to be miraculously comfortable. Sadly, they're not comfortable enough to walk around my home, let alone wear all day (and then go dancing!) as advertised. That being said, it was never my intention to wear these shoes to work---I like to be comfortable while toiling away, and am more of a flats-or-max-one-inch-heel-at-work kind of girl.
My go-to work shoe for look and comfort is the Cole Haan Pinch Weekender (currently only $80 on Amazon!). They look great with a skirt or pants, and are actually sneaker comfortable all day. They also work well sock-less in the summer.
All I demand from a high heel is enough comfort to withstand date night or drinks with a girlfriend (and maybe the odd wedding or bar mitzvah).
The main pitfall of buying shoes that you can't try on before buying is that, well, you can't try them on before buying! But, with custom-made mail-order shoes, you have no other option.
The Bright Side
Thankfully, the manufacturers had the foresight to include a 30-day '100% fit guarantee,' meaning that I'll be able to send them back to be refit.
I'll keep you posted on how that goes! I haven't given up hope on these yet, and feel that if the toe box were stretched out just a little, especially at the base of my left pinky toe, these could actually make a quite comfortable heel.
I'll reserve making any final judgments for now, especially since I haven't worn these shoes out of the house, or for any substantial amount of time. Doing so would nullify the fit guarantee, and I definitely want to give these another go, once they’re adjusted!
UPDATE: On June 13, 2018, I received an email from Antonia Saint NY stating that instead of re-fitting the shoes I sent back to them, they are instead going to produce a new pair of shoes they are dubbing 'Version 2.0,' which they predict will be available to ship in---wait for it---DECEMBER 2018! When I receive these, I'll be sure to add a further update to this review.
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Have you ordered a pair of these? How do yours fit?
Let me know what you think in the comments below!
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