Last updated: October 9th, 2023
TL;DR: I’ve now been testing out my Tieks and Rothy’s for about three years. It’s tough to choose between these two brands—I wear them both often—but with Tieks offering a more traditional style of leather ballet slipper, my style aligns more with the modern, sustainable design of Rothy’s flats.
A look into Tieks vs Rothy’s, two popular California-based companies that produce stylish shoes for women.
They also seem to have a lot of similarities.
Both Rothy’s and Tieks have a mid-range price, they’re known for their women’s flats, they’re made in small batches, and they both come in a lot of color and style options.
So, how do you choose between the two?
Although on the surface it might seem like they’re basically the same shoe, after wearing my pair of Rothy’s for six months and two different pairs of Tieks for over four years, I’ve discovered a lot of differences between the two.
In this post, I’m going to give you an overview of the main differences between Rothy’s and Tieks and which one I think is the better shoe. It’s a stylish battle of Rothy’s vs Tieks.
Note: this article contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free recommendations.
Overview of Tieks
The majority of Tieks shoes are made from 100% leather, usually patent leather for the shinier Tieks or distressed leather for a more subdued look.
Tieks also has a line of vegan ballet flats that are made with European textiles, using natural and paraben-free dyes.
Tieks shoes are designed and packaged in Los Angeles, made in Italy, Brazil, and around Asia, and assembled in China.
What’s Different About Tieks Compared to Rothys?
The main draw to Tieks shoes is their foldable nature, which has made them a favorite shoe for travelers or women who are on the go and want a nice pair of foldable ballet flats.
Tieks shoes have a split sole, which means they’re easy to fold flat without them losing their shape once you put them on again.
Rothy’s are lightweight but they don’t have that foldable nature that’s so nice when you want a compact way to carry an extra pair of shoes.
Made from Real Leather
One of the major differences between Rothy’s and Tieks is the materials they’re made from.
Tieks stresses the high-quality leather they use in their shoes, whereas Rothy’s takes the more sustainable approach and makes their shoes out of recycled plastic bottles.
If you prefer the look and feel of leather ballet flats, Tieks is one of the best mid-range flats around for that.
More Style & Color Options
The Tieks Boutiek features over 80 colors and styles of ballet flats so there are A LOT of options to choose from.
If you like having a lot of options, as well as more unique colors and styles to choose from, Tieks is a better bet.
With that said, Tieks has really stuck to specializing in just women’s flats.
Rothy’s, on the other hand, has more variety when it comes to different types of shoes, like sneakers, slides, and sandals, as well as flats.
Another unique aspect of Tieks is that they offer Little Miss Tieks, which is their line of flats for girls.
They currently have six different colors and styles of kids’ Tieks.
Although both Tieks and Rothy’s offer kid sizes in their shoes, Rothy’s only offers kid sizes in their loafers and sneakers but not their flats.
Read more about Tieks sizing here.
Tieks has its own foundation called the Gavrieli Foundation, which supports women entrepreneurs from around the world by donating to Kiva.
During 2020, they also ran a mask donation drive. Then, in 2021, Tieks for Ukraine raised nearly $90,000 for an organization serving meals in Ukraine during the Russian war.
In general, from what I’ve found online, they seem to be more focused on charity than Rothy’s as a company.
Tieks Teal Bottoms
Tieks and Rothy’s both have a signature design that they put on all of their shoes. For Tieks, that’s the teal blue soles on the bottom of their shoes.
The bright teal is a pop of color that you probably either love or hate.
Rothy’s signature royal blue that’s stitched into the tops of their shoes is a little more inconspicuous, so it depends on which style you prefer.
Who are Tieks Shoes for?
I’d recommend Tieks shoes for regular travelers or women who are constantly on the go and who are looking for a foldable flat.
Tieks are also ideal for those who prefer a more traditional leather ballet flat and who want a lot of different color options.
Finally, Tieks are also good for those who want to support a company that gives back to charity and runs its own foundation.
Overview of Rothy’s
Rothy’s shoes are mostly made from single-use plastic water bottles.
These plastic bottles are broken down into small pellets that are then made into spools of thread and 3D knit into every pair of shoes.
Secondary materials include algae-based foam on the Strobel boards of their shoes, insoles that are made from 30% recycled rubber and plant-based oil, and outsoles that are made with 35% other renewable materials.
There are a variety of other sustainable materials used in different styles of Rothy’s as well, including merino wool and vegan leather.
Rothy’s shoes are designed in San Francisco and made in Dongguan, China.
What’s Different About Rothys Compared to Tieks?
More Sustainably Made
One of the main draws to Rothy’s is that their shoes are made from recycled plastic and are sustainably made.
Their sustainability efforts are a big part of their branding. As they say on their website, they’ve managed to keep over 100 tons of plastic from the ocean and other waterways since they were founded.
The algae-based foam that they use on the Strobel boards of their shoes also helps the environment by reducing invasive algae blooms that are a byproduct of global warming.
Between using renewable materials and focusing on their environmental impact as a company, Rothy’s has proven that they’re serious about their sustainability efforts.
This is something that’s really important for a lot of consumers these days and Rothy’s has done a good job of being one of the most sustainable boutique shoe companies out there.
Machine Washable & Removable Insoles
Another nice difference in Rothy’s shoes compared to Tieks is that they’re machine washable and therefore somewhat waterproof.
They also have removable insoles that are also washable, which means it’s easier to keep Rothy’s shoes clean and smelling nice.
Tieks, on the other hand, are made out of leather which is one of the least water-friendly materials and they’re definitely not washable.
Little to No Break-in Period
Although both companies say their shoes fit right out of the box, I found that to be more true with Rothy’s flats.
Neither Rothy’s nor Tieks stretch much but I found Rothy’s to form to my foot better and not give me blisters the first few times I wore them.
It took me about a month to break in my Tieks the first time around and even my second pair, although a better fit, don’t fit nearly as nicely as my Rothy’s flats do.
Options for Half Sizes
One thing that isn’t so great about Tieks is that they don’t offer half sizes.
Although I ended up sizing up to a 10 instead of a 9.5 for their flats anyway, it’s still ideal that Rothy’s offers half sizes for a better fit.
More Versatile Styles & Design
Whereas Tieks just focuses on the standard rounded ballet flat, Rothy’s has five different styles of flats and a number of other shoe styles as well.
In addition to their rounded-toe ballet flat, they have a pointed toe, square toe, Mary Jane style, and a loafer style.
They also carry two different styles of sneakers, two styles of boots, and slides.
Maybe it’s due to using recycled plastic bottles when constructing their shoes, but Rothy’s flats feel more breathable than Tieks.
This probably isn’t the most surprising since leather isn’t a super breathable material.
However, it’s still worth noting, especially if you live in warmer climates or you’re more prone to sweaty feet.
Rothy’s Blue Lining
Similar to Tieks teal soles, Rothy’s has their signature blue lining on the tops of their shoes.
It’s a lot more subtle than the bright teal on the bottom of Tieks ballet flats and might be preferable if you’re going for a certain look.
Who are Rothy’s Shoes for?
Rothy’s shoes are for anyone who’s looking to purchase eco-friendly shoes that are machine washable, stylish, and versatile.
They’re also ideal for anyone who’s looking for something a little different than the rounded-toe flats since they have four other styles of flats to choose from.
Lastly, Rothy’s are slightly less expensive than Tieks so they’re good for those who are on more of a budget but don’t want to sacrifice quality too much.
Comparing Rothy’s vs Tieks: Pros & Cons
I went into some of these things above, but let’s really dig into the pros and cons of Rothys vs Tieks and which shoe wins in some of the most important categories.
Comfort & Fit
Comfort is huge when it comes to shoes and especially when it comes to flats, which aren’t the most comfortable style of shoes.
Neither Rothy’s nor Tieks provide a ton of support since they’re still flats, but in terms of overall comfort, Rothy’s wins by just a nudge.
This is especially the case for the fit right out of the box.
Although Tieks and Rothy’s are comparable in terms of comfort once you have a chance to break in Tieks, Rothy’s are more immediately comfortable.
This is probably a more personal preference, but I also find the materials used in Rothy’s to be more breathable and lightweight, compared to the leather used in Tieks.
With that said, I’ve worn both my Tieks and Rothy’s for whole days at a time walking long distances and they’re both pretty comfortable for flats.
The only exception is if you have wider feet, in which case Tieks would be the better option.
The reason for this is the narrowness of Rothy’s shoes, especially their flats. People with wide feet often complain of their feet hanging over the sides of the insoles.
Tieks have a slightly wider construction and a more flexible opening that conforms to your feet, making it better for wide feet.
Winner: Rothy’s (but only slightly)
Rothy’s and Tieks are similar in terms of sizing.
They’re mostly true to size, with some people sizing up for certain styles by either a half-size or full-size (depending on what’s available).
I found a size 10 to be the most comfortable for both my pairs of Rothy’s and Tieks flats and I usually wear either a size 9.5 or 10.
I would say that Rothy’s wins the sizing round though because they offer half sizes for most of their shoes.
Tieks still only offers full sizes which can be annoying when you’re shopping for flats since the fit is even more important than sneakers or other shoes that you can adjust a little easier.
With flats, there’s really no middle ground if they don’t fit.
Versatility & Style
Both Tieks and Rothy’s do a good job of making versatile and stylish shoes.
I can wear my Tieks and Rothy’s with most outfits in my closet and mostly dress them up and down as needed.
With that said, I would say that Rothy’s are a little more stylish than Tieks.
Even when comparing the rounded toe style, I prefer the smooth angles of Rothy’s flats to Tieks’ scrunched leather look.
And style especially comes into play when looking at Rothy’s other styles of flats, like their Point flat which is slightly fancier than their rounded-toe flats.
Although the versatility between the two shoes is comparable, Rothy’s produces a slightly more modern-looking flat that is a bit more stylish than Tieks’ more traditional style of flats.
Number of Options
Tieks and Rothy’s both have a lot of different colors and styles for their shoes, but when it comes to the number of colors and patterns, Tieks wins by a landslide.
If you go to the Tieks Boutiek, you’ll find over 80 different colors and patterns to choose from, many of which are more unique than what you’ll find with Rothy’s.
The one exception is Rothy’s offers more styles of shoes, from five different styles of flats (including loafers) to their lines of slides, sneakers, and boots.
Overall, I’d still give the “plethora of options” win to Tieks because they really do have every color and pattern under the sun.
Quality & Durability
Tieks and Rothy’s shoes are made from very different materials so looking at their quality and durability is important.
I’ve had my Tieks for much longer than my Rothy’s so I might be biased, but I’d say my Tieks are more durable and feel like they’re slightly better quality than my Rothy’s.
To give you an idea, Tieks are made with high-quality leather and their shoes take over 150 steps to make.
If you’re looking for shoes that are made from a leather alternative, Rothy’s is a good option, but for overall quality, I’d still go with Tieks.
One thing to note is that both shoes have their downfalls when it comes to the durability of their exterior aesthetic.
Tieks have a tendency to scruff (less so with their patent leather flats) and Rothy’s can stain easily.
There are ways to combat these – for Tieks you can use leather conditioning products to keep them looking fresh and with Rothy’s you can throw them in the washing machine – but this is still something to keep in mind.
If you’re worried about the durability of the exterior aesthetic, I’d recommend going with the patent leather Tieks or a darker color of Rothy’s that doesn’t show stains as easily.
Overall though, I’d still say Tieks are made from higher-quality materials and are slightly more durable than Rothy’s.
Return & Exchange Policy
When it comes to Rothys vs Tieks for stellar customer service and a good return and exchange policy, both companies go over and beyond what most shoe companies have in place.
Most notably, both companies have a free return and exchange policy that makes it super easy to try on multiple pairs at home and send back the ones you don’t want.
Tieks is well-known for its friendly and approachable customer service and easy returns and exchanges. They even offer international returns and exchanges, although at a pretty steep price.
Tieks also has the bonus of not having a time limit for their returns and exchanges. You can return or exchange your shoes at any time, but the kicker is that they can’t have been worn outside.
However, from my personal experience of returning and exchanging shoes with both companies, Rothy’s is just as good if not better than Tieks.
The aspect that I love about Rothy’s returns and exchanges is their “Happy Returns” process. Happy Returns is by far the easiest return and exchange process I’ve encountered.
All you have to do is bring in the shoes you want to return or exchange and take them to your local USPS or FedEx.
You give a QR code to the person behind the counter and they’ll take your shoes and put them in a plastic bag that they provide. That’s it.
You don’t need to bring any of the original packaging or print out any packing slips.
The Tieks return and exchange process is still very easy – they provide you with a packing slip that you print out and you send the shoes back in their original box at any USPS drop-off location.
However, Happy Returns is a couple of steps more convenient, which is why I prefer Rothy’s return and exchange policy compared to Tieks.
The only downside is that Rothy’s doesn’t offer any international shipping, returns, or exchanges and they only have a 30-day window for their returns and exchanges.
Sales & Discounts
When it comes to sales and discounts, neither Tieks nor Rothy’s has many annual sales or ways to get discounts on their shoes.
Tieks ran a very rare sale in June of 2020 but that’s the only time I’ve seen Tieks on sale in the past four years.
During 2020, they also offered $100 gift cards for healthcare workers, first responders, and military service members, although it looks like they’ve discontinued that program now.
Rothy’s also rarely runs sales, but they at least have a year-round 20% discount for teachers, first responders, and medical professionals.
They also have a referral program that allows you to get $20 off your next pair of Rothy’s if you refer a friend and they make a purchase (they get $20 off too).
And Rothy’s Recycling discount is maybe the most unique discount available. Sending in worn-out Rothy’s for recycling will get you up to $20 credit toward your next purchase.
And finally, there’s the cost of these shoes.
Both shoes cost more than your average pair of flats that you might find at an H&M, but they’re also way higher quality (and more stylish too).
Rothy’s shoes run from $125-$165 and Tieks shoes run from $175-$345.
Therefore, Rothy’s is the clear winner in terms of cost since they make a comparable pair of quality flats but come at a lower price point.
Where to Buy Tieks
If you want to buy brand new Tieks, the best place to purchase them is from the Tieks Boutiek online.
You can also find used Tieks from Facebook groups and places like Poshmark, but you won’t usually find brand new Tieks anywhere except the online Tieks store.
Tieks doesn’t have any physical stores so you’ll always have to buy them via an online source.
Where to Buy Rothy’s
Rothy’s shoes are mostly found online as well, but they also have physical stores now in San Francisco, Washington DC, Boston, New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
If you live near these locations, it can be good to go in and try on a pair of Rothy’s to see how they fit before you buy.
Ultimately though, I’d still recommend purchasing Rothy’s from their online store since that’s where you’ll find the most options in terms of styles, colors, and sizes.
With how easy Rothy’s returns and exchanges are though, it’s also very easy to purchase a pair or two online to try on in the comfort of your home and then send back the pair you don’t want.
Conclusion: Rothy’s vs Tieks – Which One is Better?
So, when it comes to Rothys vs Tieks, which is the better shoe?
If you’ve made it this far, you can probably guess based on the above pros and cons list that I prefer Rothy’s over Tieks these days.
I’ve been a long-term Tieks wearer for almost half a decade now but, overall, Rothy’s shoes hit the mark for me more than Tieks.
With that said, it always depends on your personal preference and what you’re looking for in a shoe.
I still love my Tieks and might even get another pair in the future.
They’re great for someone who is looking for more traditional leather ballet flats that are easy to pack and ideal for an on-the-go lifestyle.
For those who like a more modern company and style of shoe, Rothy’s is hard to beat with its sustainability efforts, various styles of versatile flats, and its overall popularity as a brand.
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