I had heard of Pikolinos before, but had never tried out a pair of their oh so stylish shoes. Truth be told, I LOVE the Portuguese and Spanish shoe brands I’ve come across over the years — they seem to have a combination of style and functionality with a unique chic factor you don’t find so easily in the states.
Spain-based Pikolino’s is one of my new favorite shoe brands, which btw, is accessible online, so you can easily order directly from their site regardless of whether you live in Paris or New York. In fact, they operate in over sixty countries and what else is cool is that they are committed to cooperation and fair trade projects in the most disadvantaged countries. We love that factoid here at We Blog the World.
We thought we’d test out a pair of their boots and a fun colored sandal for the remainder of summer. In California of course, we can wear sandals for most months of the year and even when it’s too cold in San Francisco, there’s always space in my luggage for a pair of Pikolino sandals.
First up, meet the Bootie Le Mans in this lovely almost Victorian Blue, which the Pikolinos folks refer to as ZAFIRO. Not only are they perfect for wearing every day and can be combined with numerous outfits, but it’s one of those boots that simply draws attention. Whether you’re on a long road trip, a quick vacation or a business one, they can be worn with jeans or a nice dress pant, all while keeping you in comfort for those long city walks while you’re touring. This versatile design is ideal for women looking for comfortable shoes with a rebellious edge and in fact, it was one of the qualities that drew me to their line.
I absolutely fell in LOVE with the boot and the color! The Pikolino shoe and boot lines are edgy but also beautiful, likely the Spanish influence and the fact that they embrace multiple colors in the Mediterranean and southern Europe. Take a look at just how well stitched this boot is, how they pay attention to the details and how comfortable it looks! We can attest that not only does it look comfortable, but it IS comfortable.
Fairly true to size, it fit me like a glove and I found myself walking around the office in them for a few hours before I realized I still had them on. When a shoe or boot is that comfortable that you forget that you’re wearing them, then the manufacturer has done something right. Okay, almost perfect!
In this shot, you can see the additional layered cushioning on the inside of the boot. Also, the rich chocolate with the fused blue is a perfect combination and what makes it such a unique standout! They use a gel and foam padded collar as well as a gel and foam padded mid-sole for additional comfort.
While I fell in love with the fused blue color, it still wasn’t easy to decide, as this same boot also comes in a lovely rich red, a dark brown, standard black and an elegant brandy (pictured below the red bootie, which they refer to as ARCILLA for ordering purposes). Notice the slightly two toned style of the leather, which makes it look slightly antiquated while keeping its firm and yet soft leather look-and-feel.
They use semi-vegetable tanned leather, with a synthetic outsole and 75% of the inside lining is leather. There’s a laced closure, and it is hand-sewn, likely the reason that you can sense such a high standard and attention to detail that is lacking in so many other shoe lines.
The leather is protected with water-repellent and an anti-stain treatment, which is ideal for avid travelers, particularly when you know a rainy stop is on your travel agenda. The heel height was also a plus for us — it’s a perfect 5 cm tall, which gives it that little lift you’re after that makes them look so great with jeans but still within comfort range, so you can wear them for those longer walking days on the road. Two thumbs up!
The next item that we absolutely fell in love with was their Rotterdam Stylish Blucher. The boot below is considered Cuero, which is essentially a deep rich tan with some colored textures, particularly around the toe. One of the reasons this boot jumped out so much for us was its flexibility, its color and of course the fact that the leather is so soft that they’re easy to pack.
Pikolino shoes and boots are so comfortable, you feel as if you’re walking on air at times. One note about the above styled boot is that while it is truer to size than the sandals we tested (see below), they run a little narrow, so based on your foot size and type, you also may want to consider ordering one size up to be safe — you can exchange them of course if it’s not a match.
These wonderfully stylish Bluchers also come in four colors — black, lead (a slate gray) and something they refer to as OLMO, which is pictured below. Another thing to note about these boots is the attention to detail, especially the stitching, which is so beautifully done. The soles are tough…in other words, they’re durable enough for lots of walking across lots of cities, the ideal travel boot for urban travel because they’re not only incredibly comfortable but they’re elegant and stylish as well so you can wear them with something simple but dressy during the evenings.
The texture on the leather is luscious and soft, so it molds to your foot, adding to the every day comfort, which is a godsend for regular wear.
The soles — so perfectly done and durable, the way avid travelers need them to be! Bottom line, we are in love with this brand.
Let’s move onto sandals, some of which have a cultural story behind them.
The Maasai Project
Pikolinos created The Maasai Project roughly six years ago, where Maasai women do the stitching for some of Pikolino’s sandals. They sew under an acacia tree, taking advantage of any shadow available in the savannah. With their single purpose being the creation of a brighter future for their families, hundreds of Maasai from Kenya and Tanzania hand-stitch leather for Pikolinos.
These values tie perfectly with developing a special line together with the Maasai tribe: colored beads hand-embroidered in Kenya, sandals made with love in Spain. It’s part of Pikolino’s efforts to support Corporate Social Responsibility. Each sandal tells the story of a Maasai woman, her family, her hardship and her determination to get ahead.
The pieces of leather are cut in Spain to conform to the Maasai designs, and then sent to Maasai Mara, where they are distributed among the Maasai manyattas (encampments) involved in the project. There, thousands of miles away on the African savannah, the Swahili-speaking Maasai women form a singular work environment where the Pikolinos leather is embroidered with the insignias, colors and typical designs of their culture. How cool is that?
The embroidered pieces are then sent back to Spain, where the footwear is completed and released to the distribution channels. The final result is a collection of unique sandals that reflects the essence of the Maasai, with the colors and designs unique to their community. Their needlework is punctuated by smiles, song and conversation. Today, the hundreds of women who form a part of the project have attained a stable wage, which in Africa had been a privilege exclusive to men. YAY! Bravo and we’re thrilled to learn about this project.
The object of the Maasai Project is simple: to draw attention to a unique culture and its values, which are deeply rooted in family and nature, to promote the importance of the Maasai Mara, and to offer hope for a sustainable future. Most of the Maasai women who take part in the Pikolinos project need things like drinking water, medication or money to fund their children’s education. The salaries from their craft work helps to contribute to meeting those needs.
While they have plenty of fabulous flat sandals with beautifully designed detailed embroidery work (see below), I opted to review a sandal with a bit of a heel.
In fact, the sandal I have in tow is simply called Maasai with Heel. There are four color variations of this shoe and I went for the Black Salmon, largely because as a traveler, as much as we love color here at We Blog the World, we all know that it’s increasingly important to pack lighter, smaller and versatile, so you can wear fewer shoes with many more outfits on the road. This beautiful number can be dressed up (with a skirt), casually with shorts or in the evening, with a pair of jeans, my ultimate favorite way to wear this sandal.
They consider this to be a Maasai a staple! What I love most about this shoe is the comfortable heel and the softness of the leather and the oh so cosy fit with the additional cushioning included in the mid-sole area, where they use gel and foam padding like they do with their boots and other shoes.
Like the Bootie Le Mans pictured above, this Maasai sandal is made with semi-vegetable tanned leather, has a synthetic outsole, is a bio-platform and has a comfy heel height of only 4.5 cm, which is ideal for women travelers. The sandal also comes in a classic black, Olmo (red and yellow straps) and Castor (blue and red straps) — see below.
One thing worth noting however is that while the boots and shoes seem to be fairly close to what I’d consider my “true size”, the sandals tended to run on the small size, so you may want to consider ordering the next size up for their sandals, at least in the Maasai collection as we didn’t test out any of the others.
The Maasai 2015 collection also includes moccasins for men with a small Maasai detail on the upper shoe and comes in tan and navy blue, making it easy to pair with anything you have on the road. We absolutely love this shoe line and are eager to test out other styles in the future. We’re keen on having more Pikolino shoes in our luggage regardless of where we end up — they have a ton of diverse options from flat sandals and stylish mid-heeled choices to more classic shoes and boots.
For more information and to order, visit: http://www.pikolinos.com/.
Note: they sent us shoes to test out, but all opinions I can assure you are entirely my own. We LOVE LOVE LOVE these shoes!