You know that (terrible) Savage Garden song, “I Knew I Loved You Before I Met You?” Okay, well, if you don’t know it, you’re probably better off. My point is: I knew I loved Native Shoes before I actually tried them.
When visiting my parents in Vancouver this June, I started noticing these brightly coloured, full-of-holes, plastic-but-not-plastic-looking shoes on the feet of pretty much every kid we would pass. I spotted them on the shelves at a couple super hip boutiques.
Turns out the shoe I was seeing was Native’s “Jefferson” model:
Native Shoes are made from foam-injection molded EVA. EVA stands for Ethylene-vinyl acetate, and is a more environmentally friendly material for shoes. According to Planet Shoes:
“The reason EVA is considered more eco-friendly is that it doesn’t use chlorine in its production. This means there is less toxicity released during degradation in a land fill somewhere if you discard your shoes.”
Native uses a zero waste injected molds to make each shoe, and uses a low energy emissions manufacturing process. Their shoes are also free of animal by-products. (The vegetarian-who-sometimes-wears-leathers is quite happy about that.)
On top of the greenliness characteristics of Native shoes, they are also lightweight, washable, odor resistant and mold to the wearer’s feet.
With summer coming to a close, and being very eager to try a shoe on Cub from this Vancouver-based brand, I was psyched to find out that they also make boots!
Since he started walking, we’ve struggled finding the right shoes for Cub. He has a fairly “bumpy” and wide foot, and cramming his feet into rubber boots has always been awkward. Last fall, he ended up with a bruised toe because his Mama shoved his foot into a boot that was too narrow.
The weight of a lot of the boots we tried on him was also a cause for concern. I remember a pair of lined fall boots in a box of hand me downs that I pulled out last year that were like bricks! I put them on him once, and he was walking like Frankenstein.
Besides Native’s obvious eco-conscious business model, the lightweight design, drawstring opening and side zipper really appealed to me in the Jimmy Child Crayon Yellow Winters:
Alright, so, straight out of the box, I loved them. But what about once I got them on Cub’s feet?
First of all, being able to unzip and loosen up the drawstring laces makes putting these boots on far easier than other boots we’ve tried. Second of all, he didn’t walk like Frankenstein: he was running, jumping and climbing in his Natives!
He has full mobility at the playground: they don’t fly off when he’s swinging, trip him up when he’s climbing up the ladders or working his way up the slide (who slides down slides these days?!). Because the tongue of the boot is sewn to the edges, there are no sneaky spots for playground sand to sneak it, either! (With his pant cuffs on top of his boots, we come home without the entire sandbox!) On the soccer pitch, no boots come flying off when he kicks, and he can run the length of it with ease.
Note that Native Boots are not marketed as rain boots. While the EVA sole is water resistant and sufficient for walking around in an urban environment, the lace up feature means they aren’t water proof. We did some serious puddle jumping, and his socks definitely got wet. But the lace up feature means a secure and flexible fit for my little super hero!
Luckily, in Montreal, fall is not a season of torrential rain… it’s just cool and a bit damp! The boots are perfect for us until it’s time to pull out the -40C-rated snow boots (not looking forward to that). Native Jimmy Winters aren’t rated for any specific temperature, they’re not snow boots. (They also come in an unlined version, by the way.) I think Cub’s toes will be toasty enough until the temperature starts dipping below 0.
Unlike traditional rubber boots, I don’t have to worry about his Jimmy Boots being kicked off when I am wearing him in the Tula, or when he’s riding in the stroller or shopping cart.
Do I wish they could both lace up and be totally water proof for my puddle jumper? Sure. But I’m willing to compromise because of the sheer comfort and flexibility these boots offer Cub as we walk around our neighbourhood this fall. He can crouch, jump, run and climb with ease. I love that these boots are so unbelievably light (you’ll be surprised when you pick up a pair), giving my Cub the freedom of movement he’ll be longing for come winter, when I’ll be zipping him into a snowsuit that I’m confident he’ll come to loathe!
Are Native Shoes big where you live?