Nisolo Shoes Review: My Experience with their Quality, Ethics and Sizing

As someone who walks everywhere and cares about supporting ethical brands, I‘m always on the hunt for stylish, well-made shoes kind to people and the planet. Over the years, I‘ve tested my share of shoes from mass brands and designer names. While the quality often disappoints, the ethics seem non-existent.

So when friends raved about Nisolo‘s transparent footprint and buttery leathers, I added them to my list to try. After wearing three pairs across seasons, here’s my honest take on their comfort, durability and feel-good factor.

At a Glance: Nisolo‘s Pros and Cons


  • Supple full-grain leathers molds perfectly to feet
  • Cushy latex arch support and padded footbeds
  • Grippy rubber soles great for city streets
  • Classic silhouettes work for most outfits
  • Ethical production helpsPreserve craft and pay fair wages


  • Sizing runs narrow; wide feet may struggle
  • Break-in required on styles like Chelsea boots
  • Straps on some sandals may feel flimsy
  • Prices exceed fast fashion brands

My Nisolo Lineup: Chelsea Boots, Smoking Shoes and Huaraches

Expanding my shoe rotation to balance style, comfort and ethics, I chose three Nisolo styles – a pair of block heel Chelsea boots, embroidered smoking shoes and woven leather huaraches.

Through fall and winter, the Chelsea boots became my daily staple with jeans and dresses. Their elastic sides stretch just enough while the toe shape elongates my legs. I wore the smoking shoes to add edge to casual Friday work outfits. And the huaraches made breezy weekend sandals I can dress up or down.

While all three make versatile statement pieces, I did notice differences in sizing, break-in and best uses which I cover ahead.

Nisolo shoe lineup - Chelsea boots, smoking shoes, huaraches

My Nisolo Chelsea boots, smoking shoes and huaraches spanned seasons seamlessly

How Nisolo Shoes Fit: Sizing, Width and Break-In Tips

Like many shoe brands, Nisolo uses European sizing which fits narrower than American brands. Their size chart provides detailed conversions to popular shoe brands to find your match.

I’m normally a standard 8.5 and ordered a size 9 in all my Nisolo pairs after reading reviews that sizing up prevents too tight a fit. Here’s how each style worked out for me:

Chelsea Boots

This style is meant to hug your feet so consider sizing up for a comfortable stretch. I love my boots in a size 9 but they run narrow – wide feet may struggle. The elastic sides pull firmly at first but give to mold perfectly after several long wears. Just wear with thin socks and expect some friction at first.

Smoking Shoes

Also snug in the toe at my usual size, I found the 9 roomy enough though the pointed toe still fits narrow like most smoking shoes. Size down if you want a glovelike fit or prefer a size up for a relaxed stretch in the long vamp. They didn‘t require much break-in since the materials give more.


Known to run large, I ordered my standard 8.5 and they still felt big. Sandal straps allow adjusting tighter but the footbed had too much room up front causing my heel to lift. Consider sizing down in woven styles for security while walking. The molded insole takes time conforming to your feet‘s curves.

Comparing Nisolo‘s Shoe Constructions and Materials

Beyond sizing, Nisolo‘s collections use differing components that affect durability and wear. Through testing their leathers, I noticed:

  • Vegetable tanned leather molds softly to your feet versus stiffer, shiny patent leathers that resist stretching. The finish is matte instead of glossy.
  • Rubber soles on sandals and clogs grip well on slick surfaces but aren‘t cushioned. Prioritize fit over break-in time.
  • Leather soles on loafers and oxfords feel luxuriously supple but show scratches and can wear down quicker. Protect them before wear.
  • Stacked leather heels lend stability but don‘t absorb shock. Use cushioned inserts if walking long distances.

Also look closely at:

  • Lining material – Shearling adds warmth while leather linings prevent rubbing but can feel stiff. Unlined shoes stretch more quickly.
  • Straps and buckles – Woven straps need reinforced stitching to handle tugging on and off. Metal hardware should feel securely anchored.

Understanding these nuances helps match Nisolo shoes to your needs and gauge their durability.

Putting Nisolo’s Ethics to the Test

Yes, Nisolo‘s shoes are pricier than fast fashion – but it‘s because you‘re paying for artisanal craftsmanship plus revolutionary worker and environmental care most brands neglect.

Through some investigating beyond marketing claims, here is what I learned:

Fair Wages

Shoe workers at Nisolo‘s Peru factory earn over 3 times standard wages plus health insurance and leadership opportunities for women. Rather than perpetuate poverty cycles so companies can maximize profits, they simply pay what‘s ethical.

Materials Sourced Mindfully

They use Forest Stewardship Council approved leather from tanneries rated Gold for water treatment and waste management. Outsoles tap natural Amazonian rubber that regenerates trees rather than relying on synthetic plastics. The results feel wonderfully supple.

Neutralizing Carbon Emissions

By measuring their climate impact from raw material transport to production to packaging and shipping, they invest in offsets to counterbalance 100% of emissions. A rarity even among luxury brands.

Financial Transparency

Unlike most fashion companies hiding behind multiple subcontractors and complicated supply chains, Nisolo shares their balance sheets publicly documenting how much reaches artisans versus overhead costs. They reveal most brands pocket upwards of 50% while actual makers get cents on the dollar.

By lifting the curtain, Nisolo invites accountability to do right as margins allow – letting buyers see behind claims often used for marketing.

Through their transparency, high wages and mindful materials, I feel good knowing my dollars support preserving a centuries-old Peruvian craft while treading gently on the planet. No greenwashing here.

Nisolo factory Peru

Nisolo‘s factory in Trujillo Peru strives for worker wellbeing as a certified B Corp

How Nisolo Shoes Hold Up Over Time

After testing three Nisolo styles across seasons, I‘m impressed by how their shoes balance beauty and durability.

The full-grain leather softened beautifully to my feet without sagging over time like cheaper brands. Stitching remains tidy after repeated wears and the hand-finished edges haven‘t cracked or peeled.

Outsoles show predictable wear but haven‘t punctured or peeled, which speaks to their reinforced triple-stitch construction. The natural traction of their rubber holds steady season after season.

While the smoking shoes felt delicately thin out of the box, they‘ve handled my periodic wears without warping or wrinkling at stress points like the throat or sides. All straps and hardware feel securely anchored even after tugging shoes on and off. No torn leather or loose eyelets.

For $175 to $250, Nisolo‘s craftsmanship delivers longevity matching brands double their prices. And made ethically, their classic versatility makes cost per wear highly competitive.

Between free repairs and resoling services through their cobbler network, Nisolo intends each pair to last for years. They‘re crafted to become beloved companions rather than fast disposables. And as leathers patina gracefully, they take on even more character that feels wonderfully personal.

Key Takeaways – Who Nisolo Shoes Work Best For

After personally testing Nisolo across heel heights, materials and seasonal wear, I believe their shoes excel for:

1. Supporters of Ethical Fashion – If you care about transparent production supporting workers and using responsibly sourced materials, Nisolo delivers truly feel-good footwear. No greenwashing, just proof in the comfort and quality.

2. Minimalists Seeking Versatile Style – With neutral hues and classic silhouettes easy to dress up or down across seasons, Nisolo fits seamlessly into curated closets with intention. No clutter, just staples.

3. Travelers Who Need Durability – Made from full-grain leathers selected for softness and strength, Nisolo shoes withstand everyday adventures while keeping sightseeing comfortable with cushioned footbeds and padded straps.

4. Urban Commuters Wanting Grip – Durable rubber soles with natural traction grip reliably on city streets and sidewalks across seasons, keeping stride steady amid hustling.

5. Those with Narrow to Standard Width Feet – For now, Nisolo‘s toe boxes best fit narrower feet. But wide sizes are coming soon to ensure an exact match for all foot shapes! Extra wide may still struggle.

The Bottom Line – Worth Investing In Nisolo Shoes?

The sticker price of Nisolo shoes may cause hesitation next to cheap alternatives. But their decade of excellence reflects meticulous craft and revolutionary ethics unmatched at scale in fashion. While higher upfront, cost per wear is competitive especially factoring lifespan – these soles stay stitched.

Beyond durability, by linking timeless style with ethical processes that challenge status quos, Nisolo empowers mindful buyers frustrated how profits trump people across industries chasing speed over meaning. They prove we need not sacrifice our values for beautiful, accessible goods through transparency, accountability and sensible pricing.

With numerous stitches left before their seams give out, my Nisolo pairs feel like treasured heirlooms only enhanced by stories of the caring hands crafting them. Good shoes reflect the soul of their maker. And with Nisolo soles, I walk steady on my purpose while leaving a softer step on this shared earth we call home. That feels like strides in the right direction worth supporting.

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