Buying new shoes has always involved an unavoidable choice. A good looking pair will not only be uncomfortable, but can cause irreversible damage to your feet. Conversely, prioritising structural integrity and comfort will leave you looking more ridiculous than that strange music teacher from high school who always wore socks with sandals.
Five and a half years ago, Anna Baird decided enough was enough and Bared Footwear was born. A podiatrist by trade, Anna began designing womens’ shoes that, from all accounts (I don’t dare opine when it comes to women’s fashion), look the part and are exceptionally comfortable for ‘heels’.
In late 2013, Bared for Men was launched and the first steps of a long march into men’s footwear were taken.
They say that before criticising someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. For cynics like myself, the same criterion applies before handing out praise of any sort. Having walked around in a couple of pairs of Bared for Men for the last month, here are my REASONS3 why you should take a look at Bared Footwear.
1. Smart looking kicks
2. Orthotics and superior comfort
3. A damn good first effort with more to come
PRICE: $229 to $289 with free delivery in Australia.
More information: www.bared.com.au – 1098 High Street, Armadale
ONE: Smart looking kicks
Standing at the back of the Bared store in Armadale, I couldn’t quite put my finger on the right word to describe the men’s range. My first attempt ‘schmick’ implied that these shoes are final word on style, which would be misleading.
Searching for guidance, I recounted the words of former head of the Volkswagen Group, who was asked why the design of the then new Golf was merely a conservative evolution of the previous model. The reply came swiftly, the more fashionable you are today, the daggier you’ll look tomorrow.
The Bared for Men range is stylish, but sits a comfortable distance away from the bleeding edge, which is a good thing. Running my eyes over the brown leather Oxygen brogues on display, I settled upon the far better fitting ‘smart’ descriptor. These shoes are timeless and will not look out of place if they are seen hitting the pavement in five or ten years time.
In addition to the more formal and dress shoes described above, the range also includes some really smart looking casual loafers and boots, which work well with jeans, chinos or shorts. Take a look at my comfy pair of navy nubuck Carbons!
TWO: Orthotics and superior comfort
Two things separate Bared from your run of the mill shoes. The first is the unique insole, which Anna spent considerable time perfecting. Far thicker and more shock absorbent that anything else out there, these bad boys provide running shoe like comfort and stability.
Anna tells me that the insoles feature an almost imperceptible rise near the ball of the foot, which aids comfort by gently spreading some of the joints in your feet.
Just as importantly, the Bared insoles can be removed. Doing so reveals a deep cavity; perfect for inserting your orthotics. This is godsend for anyone who, like me, is blessed with hip crunching and shin splint inducing flat footedness.
THREE: A damn good first effort with more to come
I’ll be honest, the pair of black leather Nitrogens that I’ve been wearing are not for me. They certainly look the part, but just haven’t proven a great fit. This is no indictment, as not all shoes fit everyone, but a simple reminder that it is important to take your time when selecting a pair of shoes.
My above grievance aside, the men’s Bared range is a fantastic and thoughtful first effort. For example, my Nitrogens feature grippy and durable resin soles. This is a nice touch, as the leather soles typically found on these kind of shoes wear quickly and can be quite slippery on the wet surfaces never present in showrooms. The Nitrogens do not require a trip to the cobbler for a $40 fitting of a rubber Topy sole.
Anna hinted that she is already thinking about the next series of men’s Bared shoes. She is hoping to source better quality leather and include several incremental improvements. Just as importantly, Anna is aiming to ensure that these changes are not accompanied by price increases or compromise to the sharp designs she has planned!