Last updated: July 2nd, 2023
I’ve now been testing out my Vivaia for just over a year. This article is updated periodically with my first-hand experience with these shoes as I continue to wear them regularly.
If you’re considering buying a pair of Vivaia flats but aren’t sure whether they’re worth it, read my in-depth Vivaia shoes review!
As concern for the environment grows, many shoe brands are trying to reduce their environmental impact.
Some brands even take it a step further to have a positive impact through innovative new materials that recycle waste, heighten comfort, and manage foot odor.
I’ve reviewed several types of eco-friendly footwear recently. A lot of this footwear comes in the form of sneakers or athletic shoes.
And while I love a good casual sneaker, I gravitate more toward feminine and vintage-inspired styles.
So, I was excited to discover Vivaia shoes. Vivaia is a sustainable shoe brand that makes women’s flats, heels, boots, and loafers using recycled bottles, wool, and rubber.
They focus on comfort, odor reduction, and–of course–sustainability.
But are these shoes worth the hype–and the price tag? Are Vivaia Shoes good, quality footwear, or another over-hyped, over-priced gimmick?
Read my complete Vivaia review to find out!
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.
Table of Contents
What are Vivaia Shoes?
Vivaia takes plastic water bottles from the ocean. Then, they spin those bottles into a thread that becomes the signature knit outer from which they create stylish and sustainable footwear.
All of the materials they use are environmentally friendly, and they’re currently working towards becoming completely zero waste and carbon neutral.
Vivaia’s manufacturing process cuts production waste by 30%, and their shoes are washable, which helps them last longer and be more sustainable.
Additionally, Vivaia’s deodorizing insole uses a mixture of herbal Artemesia Argyi and PU foam to create a cushioned and mold-proof base for your foot.
A Quick Look at Vivaia as a Company
Vivaia is a relatively new shoe company. They were founded in 2020 with a mission to create fashion-forward footwear with sustainable materials and practices.
Their headquarters is located in London, while their factory is in China.
There has been some controversy about their factory’s location in China.
Still, the company asserts that they manufacture there because China has abundant raw, recyclable materials to work with.
Vivaia addresses the controversy on their website and assures consumers that they closely oversee their factories to ensure that the employees have good working conditions and ethical treatment.
Vivaia’s sustainability practices also reduce costs and waste with a direct-to-consumer model.
Vivaia Shoes Reviews
Elina: My Experience With the Pointed-Toe Vienna Flats
I selected the Vienna Flats with a pointed toe and a V-cut opening.
A graceful cream-colored stripe lines the edge of the opening and extends down the sides.
I chose the Teal Green shade (which is no longer available, unfortunately) in size 8, my usual size.
My Vivaia shoes arrived in about a week. They came in elegant packaging, which is 100% recycled cardboard.
Inside the box, they were wrapped in paper and secured with a sticker.
Although the knitted upper looks like fabric, it’s a sturdier plastic material. Otherwise, they looked like the picture on the website. I slipped them on, and they fit perfectly.
I got my Vivaias in May 2022, just before spending almost two months in Italy, and they served me very well on that trip.
They’re super stylish shoes complementing many different outfits and they easily fit into Italy’s sophisticated style.
They’re also comfortable and work for both casual and dressy situations.
My Vivaias quickly became my beach shoes while I was in Italy because they were so easy to slip on and off, and the sturdy knit outer feels like it can stand up to anything.
Additionally, the insole is breathable and moisture-wicking.
The shoes never felt damp, even when I slipped them on straight after leaving the ocean, and they don’t make my feet sweat despite being plastic.
I even accidentally dipped my Vivaia-clad foot into a canal in Venice.
It didn’t get soggy, was able to air dry quickly, and it smells fine now–which is surprising if you’ve ever smelled a Venetian canal!
I also wore them on some days with a lot of walking. And while they don’t have much support, I felt fine afterward. These shoes have never given me a blister.
After seven weeks of frequent wear, they still looked pretty good.
At that point, they had molded around the outline of my big toe, and the insoles felt a lot flatter and less cushioned than they initially did.
The insoles also don’t stay put as well anymore; they sometimes pop out when I take them off.
Now, more than a year on, they haven’t changed much from the state they were in when I returned from Italy. Although, I definitely stopped wearing them as frequently once summer ended.
During the cold weather months, I mostly wore my Vivaias around the house and when I had to quickly dash downstairs to grab a package or food delivery.
Now that summer has rolled around again, I’m still not wearing them out super frequently, but I often slip them on to head down to my backyard or to run a short errand.
Overall, they still look pretty clean, and feel like they have excellent quality. I can’t imagine these shoes breaking or wearing out anytime soon.
Another thing to note is that with previous pointed-toe flats I’ve owned, the toe quickly got scuffed.
However, even after a year of wear, my Vivaia’s don’t have any scuffs on them. The knit outer is pretty much unchanged from when I took them out of their original packaging.
Since I purchased my pair, Vivaia has made some updates and changes to the Vienna flats’ design. As I mentioned earlier, it appears that they’ve discontinued the Teal Green color.
Also, the new Vienna flats now have a small cushion in the heel, and the insole has improved padding that looks like it provides a lot more arch support.
While I found my original pair to be incredibly comfortable, the new design looks extra cozy—in fact, I may have to snag one pair of the updated model soon!
Mimi: My Experience With The Madeline 2.0 Over-The-Knee Water Repellent Wool Boots
Written and tested by Mimi [Owner & Editor-in-Chief of The Atlas Heart]
Although the Vivaia brand is most well-known for its flats, they’ve been expanding recently into different styles of footwear and even into a full winter shoe collection now—including warm stylish winter boots!
I’ve always loved the idea of having over-the-knee boots, so when I saw the Madeline 2.0 boots in their new winter collection, I immediately wanted to try them. I’m so glad I did.
With a colder-than-usual (and wetter) winter in the Bay Area, I’ve been testing these all over town for the past month and a half.
The wool upper and soft terry lining on these shoes are both so cozy and just the right amount of warmth for the Bay Area.
These shoes probably aren’t a great option to wear in the snow, but for temperatures between 40-60 Fareinheight, they’re perfect.
I also really like the style and flexibility of the over-the-knee part of the shoe. It basically looks like thick wool socks and is just as flexible as wearing socks.
It’s a nice change from the usual stiff leather boots I’m used to and they have just enough of that preppy vibe without being over-the-top.
Lastly, they’ve been comfortable enough to wear on my daily walks around Berkeley and into San Francisco, where I’ll walk up some pretty steep hills.
So far, I’ve walked up to two miles in them at one time with them still feeling very comfortable and not too hot.
Pros of Vivaia Shoes
Eco-friendly Sustainable Practices
Something that keeps me up at night is the thought of how much plastic is floating in the ocean.
So the fact that Vivaia aims for zero waste and takes recycled water bottles out of the sea to repurpose them as shoes is a great plus.
That, coupled with the rest of their sustainable production process, helps me rest a little easier at night.
My Vivaia pointy flats are beautiful shoes that I’m excited to wear over and over. And Vivaia has no shortage of adorable designs.
I had a hard time picking out my first pair–I even had to poll my friends and family to help me decide.
I’ve walked several miles in my Vivaia shoes without experiencing aching feet, blisters, or other pain.
Plus, these comfortable shoes also fit well and are true to size. That’s what I call conscious comfort.
Even though I wore my Vivaias constantly last summer and frequently around the house during winter, they’ve hardly worn down at all. I feel like they could keep going for miles and miles yet.
Vivaia’s signature knit is a very durable material, and you can tell that they have quality and careful stitching.
Moisture-Wicking Odor Control
Flats are a pair of shoes that you generally wear without socks during the summer, so odor and sweat control are good qualities for flats.
Vivaia is the first company I’ve come across that uses natural herbs to dispel unwanted odors, and the Artemisia Argyi seems to work well–they’re still smelling fine!
Most Vivaia shoes are machine-washable.
I’ve hand-washed the insoles, and while it refreshed them a bit, they didn’t return to ‘like-new.’ I still haven’t felt the need to test out machine washing yet, but I’m glad that I have the option to quickly restore them to their original glory when the time comes.
Cons of Vivaia Shoes
Insoles Flatten Over Time
When I first got my Vivaia shoes, the cushioning was noticeably plush, offering ultimate comfort.
But after only six weeks of constant wear, those cushy insoles flattened down quite a lot, and now, they feel more like conventional flats comfort-wise.
Some shoes have structured insoles that offer advanced arch support, but my Vivaia flats don’t. They’re just foam insoles and the footbed is relatively flat.
With that said, they still left me feeling free from foot pain after a lot of walking.
And as of 2023, Vivaia has updated its insole design to provide increased arch support and cushioning. I suspect these new insoles won’t flatten as much as the ones I have.
Customer Service Issues
I’ve found several Vivaia reviews online that complain about customer service.
They mostly say that it was challenging to make a return or exchange and that there was no number to call.
While this wasn’t my experience, I noticed enough complaints that it felt pertinent to mention.
With that said, my editor, Mimi, had the exact opposite experience. When she ordered a pair of Vivaia shoes that didn’t fit, they responded to her within a day or two.
They also let her keep the pair that didn’t fit so she could gift them to a friend and sent the new ones that were the right size free of charge.
So, she ended up with two pairs of shoes for the price of one!
When I got my Vivaia flats, they retailed for $89, which is pretty pricey for a pair of flats. As of now, the Vienna flats have gone up to $97.
Other Vivaia Shoes
There are many different shoe styles in the Vivaia collection, and they’ve added even more options since I bought my pair last summer.
For example, apart from the Vienna Flat, Vivaia has several variations of flats with pointed toes.
The Melia comes in several colors and patterns and features a more textured, striped knit look as opposed to the finer knit pattern of the Vienna.
And Vivaia offers square, round, and pointed-toe heels. These are low heels, or kitten heels, with less than two inches of heel.
The Melody has a square toe, while the Julie has a round one.
And they don’t stop there. Vivaia now has six boot styles that range from ankle boots to over-the-knee.
Vivaia boots feature the same signature knit upper using recycled materials and an herb-infused odor-resistant insole.
In all, Vivaia has five styles of sneakers. Most are lace-up shoes, my favorite being the V Prime gender-neutral sneaker. It’s clean and versatile like a classy Reebok.
Vivaia Shoes Sizing Tips, Fit & How They Should Feel
How Does Sizing Work? Do Vivaia Shoes Run Big or Small?
When I bought my Vienna flats, Vivaia’s shoes were only in European sizes. My US size 8 translated to a 38.5 in European sizing.
They now offer EU, UK, and US sizing, so if you live in one of those regions, you won’t have to convert your size as I did.
And a handy size guide chart includes recommendations based on foot shape.
You should size up if you have a wide foot, bunions, a high arch, or Morton’s toe (a second toe that is significantly longer than your big toe). If you have a narrow foot, you should order a size down.
Apart from a small extra bone near my ankle, I have relatively normal feet and my 38.5’s fit perfectly.
I read some complaints from people with wide feet who said their flats were too small, so it seems like it’s a good idea to follow Vivaia’s sizing recommendations.
Do Vivaia Shoes Stretch?
My Vivaia flats have stretched a little bit in that they have molded around the shape of my big toe, but they don’t get increasingly looser the longer you wear them.
Are Vivaia Shoes Comfortable?
Vivaias are very comfortable shoes, especially at first.
After wearing them a lot, the foam insole flattens out a bit. However, their improved insole has contoured padding, so I suspect it’s cushier.
I wouldn’t describe my pair as orthopedic-level comfort, but they’re still sturdy and my feet are happy in them.
And for context, during my time in Italy, I frequently walked five to six miles daily while wearing them without a problem.
How Long Does it Take to Break in Vivaia Shoes?
I didn’t experience a breaking-in period for my Vivaia’s. They’ve never given me blisters or rubbed uncomfortably, and they fit true-to-size straight out of the box.
How Should Vivaia Shoes Fit When I Try Them on?
Because Vivaias don’t really stretch out or require a lot of breaking in, they should fit true to size and feel comfortable when you first try them on.
If they don’t, you probably need a different size.
Do Vivaia Shoes Provide Enough Support?
My Vivaia shoes provide a reasonable amount of support as far as flats go.
They’re not necessarily walking shoes (although I have walked a lot in them without a problem), and they can’t perform miracles, but they’re a comfortable option for flats.
Plus, the recently upgraded design of their flats now has contoured insoles that provide extra arch support.
Are Vivaia Shoes Good For High Arches?
If you have high arches, you’ll want to size up, and you may even add an insole that offers added support. My Vivaias have a pretty flat footbed.
Are Vivaia Shoes Good for Wide Feet?
If you have wide feet, Vivaia recommends you size up.
Can You Wear Vivaia Shoes With Plantar Fasciitis?
If you’re actively fighting plantar fasciitis, I’d recommend adding your own plantar fasciitis insoles.
That said, I’ve dealt with plantar fasciitis in the past, and it didn’t act up while wearing my Vivaias.
Can You Wear Vivaia Shoes With Bunions?
You can wear Vivaias with bunions; just be sure to size up.
Vivaia Shoes Durability
How is the Quality of Vivaia Shoes?
Vivaia shoes are stylish and beautifully crafted, and the quality feels very high.
Are Vivaia Shoes Waterproof?
The classic Vivaias that I have aren’t waterproof, but the recycled water bottles create a thick, strong material that is hard for water to penetrate.
This material also makes Vivaia shoes breathable and helps them dry quickly.
Recently, Vivaia added a fully water-repellent version for select shoe styles, including many of their boots.
How Long do Vivaia Shoes Last?
Vivaia shoes are sturdy and should last at least a couple of years, if not more, of frequent use without showing signs of wear.
They’re washable, so you can refresh them quickly, and I foresee myself wearing these shoes for the next several years.
Vivaia Return & Exchange Policy
Vivaia offers free returns and exchanges for online purchases worldwide for 30 days.
The items must be unused, undamaged, and in their original box with tags for a full refund.
I’ve seen a Vivaia shoes review or two complaining about the return process, yet my editor found their customer service to be quick and responsive, so it might be hit or miss.
Vivaia Discounts & Coupons
Vivaia offers some exclusive deals.
There’s a 20% discount for college students, teachers, medical professionals, military personnel, and first responders.
You just need to verify your status through a third-party site called Sheer ID.
They also offer an alternate 12% discount just for students through a verification site called Student Beans.
Where to Buy Vivaia Shoes
FAQs About Vivaia Shoes
Where are Vivaia shoes made?
Vivaia’s factory is in China, where many recycled plastic bottles and raw materials are available.
Despite the reputation of manufacturing in China, Vivaia says that its facilities follow ethical working practices.
Are Vivaia shoes washable?
For non-washable collections, you can spot-clean with a cloth.
Do Vivaia shoes run small?
Vivaia has expanded its sizing to include US and UK sizes since I got my pair. In my experience, my Vivaias fit true to size, if not slightly roomy.
Who is the owner of Vivaia?
The co-founder and brand director is Marina Chen, and the company’s headquarters are in London.
Are Vivaia shoes slip-resistant?
Vivaias have a rubber sole that’s not too slippery. They don’t have a super textured tread, but I have yet to slip in them (and I’m a pretty clumsy person!).
How long do Vivaia shoes take to ship?
For North America, shipping times should be between six and 13 days. I received my shoes about a week after ordering.
Do Vivaia shoes get smelly?
The PU foam insoles are odor-fighting, thanks to an herbal infusion. I’ve worn my pair of shoes very frequently over the past nine months and they still don’t smell!
Why are Vivaia shoes so expensive?
While $100 feels like a high price for a pair of flats, Vivaias are a fair price compared to other eco-friendly, sustainable brands.
The extra cost comes from the high level of craftsmanship and the advanced technology it takes to turn plastic bottles into responsible footwear.
Conclusion: So, Are Vivaia Shoes Worth it?
I can enthusiastically recommend Vivaia shoes. They’re incredibly stylish, comfortable shoes from an eco-friendly, sustainable footwear brand.
My pair of Vienna flats are breathable, great for summertime, and don’t cause blisters or foot pain.
I’ve worn them for walking all day over cobblestones, out to nice dinners, scrambling over boulders, and swimming at the beach. Throughout it all, they’ve never caused blisters or slipped off.
These high-quality shoes are also long-lasting. I’ve owned them for over a year, and they’re showing only minimal wear.
My Vivaias complement many outfits, keep me strolling around in style, and help remove plastic bottles from the ocean.
Even though the price is a little steep in my book, I may purchase another new pair because I like them so much!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Elina Ansary is a writer, visual artist, and avid traveler. She grew up in San Francisco, CA, and spent her childhood camping up and down Northern California. These days, she visits artist residencies around the world and has lived in Amsterdam, Australia, and now Brooklyn, NY.
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