A full look at Rothy’s vs Birdies and which company makes the better pair of shoes.
I clearly have a thing for reviewing California-based shoe companies – what can I say, I like to shop local when I can.
I’ve talked a lot about Tieks on this blog but two other shoe brands that I’ve been excited about lately are Birdies and Rothy’s.
I purchased shoes from both brands in early 2021. The targeted Instagram ads got to me and they came with quite a bit of social proof too (my sister loves her black velvet Birdies and apparently so does Meghan Markle).
Both Rothy’s and Birdies have become trendy shoe companies in the past few years and their shoes have a lot to offer in terms of comfort and style.
But if you’re only looking to invest in one new pair of shoes right now, which brand is better?
In this post, I’m going to walk you through the main differences between Rothy’s vs Birdies and which one I think is the better shoe, depending on what you’re looking for.
Note: this post contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free travel advice and tips.
Overview of Birdies
My Birdies Flats
I purchased and tested The Starling in Cheetah (size 10).
Most of Birdies shoes are vegan and made out of velvet, woven textile, suede, linen, or faux fur. Their non-vegan shoes are made from calf hair or leather (just their sneakers).
In addition to these main materials, Birdies flats have a rubber sole and seven-layer comfort technology that includes quilted satin, dual-layer high-density foam, and memory foam cushioning.
Birdies is based in San Francisco and their shoes are manufactured in China.
What’s Different About Birdies Compared to Rothy’s?
Known for Their Slipper-Style Flats
One of the more unique aspects about Birdies compared to Rothy’s is their slipper-style flats.
The company originally started out designing women’s slippers to be worn around the house.
However, due to popular demand, they changed them into stylish slippers that could be worn outside as your everyday shoes (e.g. the slipper flat).
Slipper flats have been trending a lot recently, especially since 2020, and this style is what Birdies does best.
Rothy’s now has their own version of the slipper flat that they call their Loafer but it doesn’t compare to Birdies slipper flats.
More Heel and Arch Support
Being that they have more to them than your average ballet flat, it’s no surprise that Birdies shoes also provide more support compared to Rothy’s.
The one thing that really stands out with Birdies is their seven-layer comfort technology mentioned above.
This provides next level support that’s often lacking in other styles of flats, including Rothy’s.
When I first slipped on my Cheetah Print Starlings, I couldn’t believe how luxurious the cushioned heel felt and that they actually had some arch support as well.
Whereas I usually recommend ordering a pair of inserts for Tieks or Rothy’s if you need more support, the support is built in for Birdies.
Another Level of Comfort
Going off the point I just made, Birdies shoes are super comfortable.
Don’t get me wrong, Rothy’s hold their own in terms of comfort as well, but it’s more bare bones compared to Birdies.
You just can’t compete with that seven-layer comfort technology (I promise this is the last time I’ll mention it).
Whereas I think Rothy’s puts more thought into versatility and sustainability, Birdies are made to be as comfortable as a slipper.
Better for Wide Feet
The other aspect that makes Birdies shoes stand out is that they’re better for wide feet compared to Rothy’s.
Rothy’s have a very narrow design where your feet hang over the insoles if they’re too wide. Birdies, on the other hand, have a wider design that works for both wide and regular feet.
The only thing to keep in mind with Birdies is that they’re stiff when you first try them on and require a break-in period.
So, especially if you have wide feet, you should plan to break them in properly with socks before wearing them for long periods. You might also want to size up.
Slightly Less Expensive
Both Rothy’s and Birdies are mid-range priced shoes, but if you’re on more of a budget, Birdies are slightly less expensive as a whole.
Who are Birdies Shoes for?
Birdies Shoes are for anyone who’s looking for a stylish pair of slipper flats that are all about comfort and support.
They’re also for anyone who is on more of a budget but who is still looking to invest in a good pair of quality flats.
Basically, if you’ve ever wished it was socially acceptable to wear slippers in public, Birdies shoes are probably for you.
Overview of Rothy’s Shoes
My Rothy’s Flats
I purchased and tested The Flat in Scooter Red (size 10).
One of the most unique things about Rothy’s shoes is that they’re made with single-use plastic water bottles.
Other materials in their shoes include insoles that are made from 30% recycled rubber and plant-based oil, algae-based foam on the Strobel boards of their shoes, and outsoles that are made with 35% other renewable materials.
Some of their styles are also made with merino wool or vegan leather.
Rothy’s is based in San Francisco. Their shoes are also designed in San Francisco and made in Dongguan, China.
What’s Different About Rothy’s?
Known for Their Traditional Flats
Although Rothy’s has a slipper style called The Loafer, Rothy’s are most well known for their more traditional ballet flats.
So, if you’re looking for that more traditional style of ballet flats, Rothys (or Tieks) are a good bet.
Focus on Sustainability
A big focus of Rothy’s shoes and the Rothy’s company as a whole is their sustainability efforts.
As I mentioned above, Rothy’s shoes are made from single-use plastic water bottles.
By using plastic as the main material in their shoes, they’ve kept 100 tons of plastic from the ocean and other waterways.
Additionally, using algae in the Strobel boards of their shoes has reduced harmful algae blooms that are destructive to natural habitats and are a byproduct of global warming.
Rothy’s is a company that takes sustainability to another level. Their shoes aren’t just sustainably made, they also have a positive impact on the environment.
If sustainability is important to you, it’s hard to beat Rothy’s shoes.
Shorter Break-in Period
The other thing that’s nice about Rothys vs Birdies was the shorter time to break them in.
Although there was a little bit of tightness around my toes when I first started wearing Rothy’s, there was very little needed in terms of breaking them in.
Birdies, on the other hand, are much stiffer shoes so they take more time to break in around the toes and the back heel.
If you’re looking for shoes that you can pretty much wear right out of the box, Rothy’s are a better option.
The only thing to note is that Rothy’s really don’t stretch at all so make sure you get the exact right size for a comfortable fit.
Another unique aspect to Rothy’s shoes is that they’re machine washable and they have removable insoles.
This makes it super easy to wash them and keep them clean and smelling nice.
It also means that, in a sense, Rothy’s shoes are waterproof. Of course, your feet will still get wet since they’re flats, but rain won’t ruin them like it might for leather flats.
Birdies also has some machine washable shoes now (some of their Blackbird Flats), but the majority of their shoes aren’t washable.
Also, most of Birdies shoes don’t have removable insoles (only The Swift style has removable insoles but they’re sneakers not flats).
Who are Rothy’s Shoes for?
Rothy’s shoes are for anyone who likes the look of more traditional ballet flats (although they offer a few other styles too) and who cares about sustainable and eco-friendly shoes.
They’re also ideal for anyone who’s looking for lightweight and breathable shoes that are also machine washable and fit pretty much right out of the box.
Comparing Rothy’s vs Birdies: Pros & Cons
I went into some of these things above, but let’s really dig into the pros and cons of Rothys vs Birdies and which pair of shoes takes the cake in some of the most important categories.
Comfort is the most important thing that I look for in a pair of shoes. Yes, I want them to be stylish and good quality, but if they’re not comfortable, I’m out.
Luckily, both Rothy’s and Birdies are super comfortable in their own ways.
Rothy’s doesn’t have a ton of support but the material of their shoes is soft, breathable, and fits my feet snugly without feeling too tight.
Since I find the material used for Rothy’s to be more breathable, I’d also say they’re probably more comfortable on warmer days since my feet can breathe in them more than in my Birdies.
And if you need more support, Rothy’s has removable insoles that you can replace with your own more supportive inserts.
With that said, Birdies definitely wins this category for me since they’re another level of comfort compared to Rothy’s.
They not only provide heel and arch support, they’re cushioned with memory foam to keep your feet happy no matter how far you walk in them.
The only uncomfortableness I’ve felt with Birdies so far is when breaking them in.
They’re made from pretty stiff material so I’d recommend wearing socks with them until your feet get used to them.
The back heel and toe box can feel especially tight and uncomfortable when initially wearing them for longer periods.
Overall though, you just can’t beat the level of comfort that Birdies shoes provide. They’re made with comfort in mind and they do cozy well.
Sizing & Fit
I mentioned this above in terms of the fit right out of the box, but Rothy’s are initially more comfortable and require little breaking in time compared to Birdies.
With that said, both shoes have a lot going for them in terms of sizing and fit once you take out the initial break-in period.
Both Rothy’s and Birdies offer half sizes for a more exact fit. They’re also true to size.
I purchased a 10 in both shoes and I usually wear a 9 ½ or a 10, depending on the style of shoes.
The one thing that’s better about Birdies in terms of fit is that their shoes will stretch a little to fit your foot once they’re broken in.
Rothy’s, on the other hand, are notorious for not stretching. The fit will be the same from day one, no matter how much you walk in them.
The other thing that’s not so hot about Rothy’s is that they have a more narrow fit.
This is fine if you generally wear regular-width shoes, but if you have wider feet they probably won’t feel all that comfortable.
People with wide feet often have the problem of feeling like their feet are hanging off the sides of the insoles.
With all of this in mind, I’d give this category to Birdies since they have an overall better fit for more people even though they take some time to break in.
Versatility & Style
Both Rothy’s and Birdies are stylish shoes that can be worn with a number of outfits. I’ve worn both shoes with anything from work dresses to slacks, jeans, or shorts.
Of course, the versatility aspect also depends on the color of shoe you go for and how well it works with the rest of your wardrobe.
In general though, I find classic ballet flats to be more versatile than slipper flats. Slipper-like flats have become more trendy recently but they can still look bulkier compared to ballet flats.
My Rothy’s are just a little more versatile with being able to dress them up or down compared to my Birdies so I’d give this category to Rothy’s.
Number of Options
Compared to Tieks, which only specializes in rounded toe ballet flats, Birdies and Rothy’s have a lot more options for different styles of flats and other types of shoes.
In addition, they sell 13 styles of bags, organizers, and a wallet.
Lastly, unlike Birdies, they also have a small selection of men’s and kid’s shoes.
Although both companies offer a good amount of styles, Rothy’s wins this category for the amount of women’s shoes and their selection of men’s and kid’s shoes as well.
Quality & Durability
Having a mid-range price point compared to other flats, you can expect a decent amount of durability and quality from Rothy’s and Birdies.
One of the first things I noticed about both shoes when I got them in the mail was their quality construction and the nice feel of the shoes and the materials they’re made from.
For my Rothy’s, there wasn’t a thread out of place and the smooth and soft material of The Flat felt durable around my feet.
Similarly, I was impressed when I opened my box of Cheetah Starlings and noticed the individual calf hairs on the outside of the shoe, as well as the cushioned insole and sturdy outsole.
With that said, my Birdies definitely feel more luxe and high quality than my Rothy’s.
Perhaps this is just because there’s more to the shoe, but they feel sturdier to walk around in and the materials feel a little nicer.
I’ve only had both pairs for about six months now so I can’t speak too much about the durability, but from what I’ve read online, it seems like Birdies hold up better in the long run as well.
Rothy’s are still durable shoes but they’re more prone to staining (even though they’re washable) and they’re made from a thinner material compared to Birdies.
So, in terms of overall quality and durability, I’d have to go with Birdies.
Return & Exchange Policy
This was a hard category to choose a winner for since both Rothy’s and Birdies have stellar return and exchange policies.
I actually tested out how easy the returns are for both companies since I initially bought a 9 ½ for both pairs and sent those back for a 10.
Birdies has a no questions asked 30-day return policy.
If for any reason you’re not satisfied with your Birdies within 30 days of purchase, you can send them back for free (within the US) even if they’ve been worn outside.
It’s easy to set up a return or exchange here and you just have to print out the shipping label and take them to your local USPS or FedEx.
Rothy’s also has a free 30-day return and exchange window (within the US) but you can’t have worn the shoes outside or washed them.
The thing that I love about Rothy’s returns and exchanges that puts it above Birdies is that they use Happy Returns.
Happy Returns lets you return the shoes to any participating locations (usually your local USPS or FedEx) with just the loose shoes and a QR code on your phone.
You just bring it into the location and the person working behind the counter puts your shoes in a plastic bag, scans the QR code, and you’re done.
I couldn’t believe how easy it was when I returned my first pair of Rothy’s. No printing out shipping labels or finding the original box.
This is how easy all exchanges and returns should be with the technology we have at our fingertips.
Discounts & Sales
When it comes to discounts, both companies run their own sales throughout the year. In fact, Birdies and Rothy’s have very similar discount programs.
Both companies offer 20% discounts for certain groups of people such as teachers, first responders, and medical professionals. Birdies also offers 20% discounts to military personnel.
Both companies also have a referral program. If you refer a friend and they purchase their first pair of Rothy’s or Birdies, they get $20 off their pair and you get $20 off your next pair.
However, I’d say Birdies wins this category because they offer a general discount as well.
When you sign up for the newsletter on their website (found as a pop up or in the footer) you can get 10% off your first purchase.
And finally, there’s the cost. Although both shoes have similar mid-range prices, Birdies has a slightly lower price point making them the winner of this round.
Birdies shoes run from $95-$140 and Rothy’s shoes are priced at $125-$185.
Conclusion: Birdies vs Rothys – Which One is Better?
So now that you know the main differences and pros and cons of both Birdies and Rothy’s, which company makes the better pair of shoes?
Well, it’s a hard call because it really depends on what you’re looking for in a shoe.
If you’re looking for cloud-like comfort in a stylish slipper flat, Birdies is the best choice.
If you’re looking to support a sustainable brand that features versatile and washable flats, Rothy’s is a good choice.
For me, I love owning both pairs of shoes for different reasons, but if I only had to choose one, I’d probably choose my Birdies.
It’s hard to beat their comfort and I love how unique they are compared to my other types of flats.
Looking for more shoe recommendations? Check out these related posts below!
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