- Merino wool is a great material to make shoes with because it’s naturally temperature-regulating, soft, and comfortable.
- Online shoe startup Rothy’s combines ethically sourced merino wool and its signature thread made from repurposed plastic bottles in its newest premium collection, the Merino Collection ($155 to $195).
- We tried three styles — the Point, Sneaker, and Chelsea — and loved how warm and supportive they were. While expensive, the price fully captures the shoes’ strengths of durability, sustainability, and comfort.
Most people associate wool with socks, sweaters, and scarves, but in recent years, a specific type of wool, merino wool, has been a popular choice of material to make footwear.
Rothy’s, the women’s shoe startup known for making flats and sneakers out of plastic water bottles, is now also dabbling in the sustainable and comfortable art of merino wool.
The new Merino Collection features all five silhouettes that Rothy’s already sells on its site: the Flat (rounded toe), Point (pointed toe), Loafer, Chelsea, and Sneaker.
For existing Rothy’s fans, the styles will look familiar, but their construction does make them unique and a little more expensive. It’s the most premium collection that Rothy’s has launched yet, with prices ranging from $155 to $195 depending on the style.
What’s special about Rothy’s Merino Collection?
The wool: To make these shoes, Rothy’s partnered with Tollegno 1900, an Italian yarn and fabric producer that’s a leader in craftsmanship, sustainability, and ethics. Its factory is powered by solar energy and hydroelectricity, and it’s Responsible Wool Standard-certified. It also only buys wool from farms that are RWS-certified.
The wool itself comes from a farm in Australia where animal welfare is a top priority. As our friends over at Allbirds have already shown us, merino wool is a material with many natural benefits. It’s warm and soft, yet lightweight. It’s also breathable and odor-resistant.
Merino wool can lose its shape if you wear it enough, which is why Rothy’s combined it with its signature thread made out of repurposed plastic bottles. To date, the company has diverted more than 41 million bottles from landfills. It’s this knitted blend that keeps the shoes both soft and structured, so you can walk in them for many, many miles worry-free.
Another perk is that they’re still machine-washable, just like all other Rothy’s shoes. As long as you wash them in cold water and let them air dry, they’ll look as good as new.
The outsoles: Also new to the Merino Collection are the outsoles. While the outsoles of Rothy’s other shoes are made from recycled rubber and recycled TPU, these ones are made from vegan leather, giving them a luxe look and feel. Having tried the original Point flats, I could immediately tell the difference in outsole when I tried the Merino Point: the Merino shoes felt sturdier and slightly thicker.
Together, the sourcing and construction put the Rothy’s Merino Collection in a category of its own. Upon first wear, we had good impressions of the shoes. After one month of testing, our final thoughts remain overwhelmingly positive.
The Merino Point, $175
I really like my Rothy’s original Point flats. After first trying them in June 2018, I’ve worn them regularly as both work and everyday flats. However, the Merino Point flats are truly a step up in comfort and structure.
Though the tops of my feet still get exposed to the crisp fall air, overall my feet are warmer and cozier in these merino wool shoes. They feel slightly thicker, but they’re still breathable and flexible. Because of this material, combined with the sturdier vegan leather outsole and algae foam interior padding, they feel more supportive as I walk.
I know that wool is typically a cold-weather staple, but I could easily see myself wearing these year-round thanks to the temperature-regulating nature of merino wool. —Connie Chen, Insider Picks senior reporter
The Merino Sneaker, $155
If you’re looking for soft, comfortable, and breathable slip-on sneakers, these may well be them. I wore my pair right out of the box and had no painful break-in period. I had very minor irritation on the backs of my heels after a full day of walking around in them and that was it. For me, the sneakers run true to size and the merino wool is so soft and cozy that it feels like I’m wearing socks. —Ellen Hoffman, Insider Picks director of content strategy
The Merino Chelsea, $175
What I love most about this pair is how easily you can slip them on and off. Since there aren’t any complicated straps or laces, I can put these shoes on in under 30 seconds. I am a zombie in the mornings, so I especially appreciate how convenient and quick this process is.
I also love their tall backing, which initially concerned me because my feet blister easily, and I prefer short socks. However, the backing is soft and doesn’t rub roughly against the backs of my heels — even as my socks slip down throughout the day.
The only caveat is that they’re pricey. That being said, I recommend buying this pair as an investment. They’re classics, and therefore will always remain on-trend. Plus, you won’t have to buy a replacement come next season, and you certainly won’t have to worry about chucking them any time soon. —Dominique McIntee, Insider Picks editorial fellow
The bottom line
The new Merino flats and sneakers are expensive, but worth the price when you consider their unique, sustainable, and comfortable design. To keep your feet warm, cozy, and supported through the upcoming months, invest in these stylish and eco-friendly shoes.
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