The made-in-Israel label—known for its removable "foot beds"—puts quality and durability first.
Style and comfort don’t often meet when it comes to women’s footwear, which is why I am the (not very) proud owner of an extensive collection of “dinner shoes”—heels, mules and the like that are oh so pretty, but pinch my feet in such a way that I can only stand to wear them to fancy seated meals. (It’s also why I was one of maybe five people who were stoked when “Dad shoes”—chunky, borderline orthopedic sneakers—were suddenly declared hip.)
But Naot, an Israeli brand you may be familiar with for making the footwear of choice for nurses, avid backpackers and other people who spend a lot of time on their feet, is making an effort to merge the seemingly disparate realms of shoes that look good and shoes you can comfortably wear for more than 30 minutes at a time without breaking out a blister cushion with its latest retail moves.
First up? A recently opened brick-and-mortar outpost on South Granville that offers Naot’s full selection of men’s and women’s kicks. (The label previously operated a store in Kerrisdale, but that shuttered last year.) There, shoppers will find styles like strappy sandals, flats and two-tone peep-toe booties—all of which forgo traditional insoles for Naot’s signature foot bed, a latex-and-cork pad covered in plush suede that molds to the shape of the bottom of your feet. This creates a custom imprint—think a footprint left in the sand—that offers stability and support to make the shoe comfier with each wear.
The foot bed may be removed and replaced with a fresh one once it’s been worn out, prolonging the life of the actual shoe. “The idea is that the bed takes the shape of your foot,” says Anthony Fonseca, store manager at Vancouver’s Naot store. “And the more you walk, the more comfortable it gets.”
Fonseca says that Naot is a “comfort first” brand—“so you’re not gonna see big stilettos and three-inches-high high heels”—though the brand has made an effort recently to produce trendier shoes, as well as carry similarly minded accessory labels (like Mat and Natt) that appeal to a younger demographic. (Fonseca notes that Naot’s Chelsea boots and sandals are some of the store’s bestsellers.) However, these styles, too, retain the Naot DNA thanks to their handmade-in-Israel, Italian-leather construction that prioritizes quality and durability.
“Once you start wearing these shoes, there’s no going back to other brands,” he says.
The Naot Store
2851 Granville St.