The Most Comfortable Shoes I’ve Ever Worn
Hello, my name is Rachel, and I’m addicted to heels. I live, eat, and breathe in them. In fact, it’s rare that my shoes go much lower than 5 inches, except for the daily barefoot yoga and Pilates practices and a sneaker-clad jaunt through the park. (Not that I can’t, and haven’t, run in heels when running late.)
But what’s a girl to do when she really needs a pair of shoes made for walking, yet needs them to simultaneously work all day and night, from work meeting to workout and back again.
Enter Yosi Samra. The designer’s signature foldable flats quite possibly qualify as the most comfortable pair of shoes I’ve ever worn — aside from athletic sneakers and the like, which can be a bit tricky to pull off with corporate- and cocktail-appropriate attire. He’s even converted the most stringent high heel worshipers (myself included), to put their feet firmly back on the ground.
An innovator of the elastic-top, foldable ballet flat, Samra designed his version at the ripe age of 22. Several years later, in 2009, he formally launched his collection online, almost immediately attracting a cult celebrity following. What started as a mere accessory to soothe weary feet at the end of a long day in heels — or after too many hours on the dance floor — quickly became a staple shoe to wear from sunup until sundown.
From color-block patent leathers and lizard-embossed suede, the options are chic — and endless. But when the ballet flat just won’t do, his sandals, shoes, and boots are equally impressive. Naturally, he even has a bridal collection with luxe foldable flats for the bride, bridesmaids, and flower girls. Every pair has “something blue” with special accent lining and, yes, the motto is “to have and to fold.”
I had the opportunity to chat with the maker of my most comfortable shoe ever for a few minutes. Here’s what he had to say.
Cheat Sheet: Why shoes?
Yosi Samra: I grew up in my father’s shoe-making factory in New York City, constantly surrounded by evening and bridal shoes. From the age of 7, I was stocking shoes and, by 16, I was running my dad’s warehouse — managing the shipping and receiving department, production, and more. I went to college in Arizona, played the drums, and started my own nightlife promotion company, but soon I returned to NYC and the shoe business to help my family.
CS: Why the foldable flat?
YS: When I returned to New York after college, I was working with my dad during the day but continued to work in nightlife promotion after hours. I saw so many girls walking home barefoot, carrying their high heels, and that was my inspiration. I wanted them to have a good shoe to wear at the end of the night.
CS: How did you elevate the standard ballet flat to a cutting-edge fashion staple?
YS: We invest in top-quality leathers from Argentina, which provides a luxurious look while offering good value for our accessible price point. Our designs are durable yet they feature unique details and textures. I launched the collection in 2009 with four colors; now, we have hundreds of different styles. Girls will tell me that they hate flats, but once they try on a pair, they understand. Our shoes mold to the foot and are both comfortable and chic.
CS: You have racked up quite a celebrity following. Who was the first star to wear your flats?
YS: I think it might have been January Jones — then word quickly spread. Miranda Lambert doesn’t always like to wear heels on the red carpet, so we’ve designed custom Swarovski versions for her. Both Sarah Jessica Parker and Jessica Alba’s [respective] kids are even wearing our children’s collection now.
CS: What else is in store?
YS: Well, I’m very excited to continue working with interesting materials like mesh, denim, and raffia, along with iridescents, dimensional details, and printed leathers.
We’ll take one of each, please.