I was born and raised in St. Louis, the hometown of Nelly, and if it was up to me, I’d remain stompin’ in my Air Force Ones 24/7. When I was younger, I basically did; but as I got older, I discovered the fun, adult realities of plantar fasciitis and the aftereffects of drinking too much wine. These days, as a delicate man who goes out of his way to be comfortable, I’ve sought products that actually make me feel good. And that can be a real pain in the
I spent the past decade-plus searching for the most comfortable shoes I could find, which has led to thousands of dollars wasted on shoes that didn’t really live up to the hype. I’ve thrown out or sold countless walking and exercise shoes, cycling cleats, and house shoes, mostly by big-name brands. I’d always been a bare feet or Cr*cs guy around the house, but at the insistence of my podiatrist and an expert at the amazing shoe store I visited, I learned that walking around barefoot is actually pretty bad for you, especially if you have foot problems. I had to check myself a bit when the man at the shoe store (who is a certified pedorathist, meaning he is literally an expert in footwear) suggested I try some real clogs. Am I really this man? I asked myself. Is this going to age my brain and personality by 30 years? What time does Columbo start? He insisted that they were supportive and comfortable and that I’d like them, so I gave ‘em a shot. When I put them on, it was basically like the 30-something Midwest guy version of Cinderella trying on her glass slipper. Enter: the Haflinger clog.
In the late 19th century, German dressmaker Emil Otto was doing some pretty good business. After a while, he became so successful that he jumped into the yarn game in order to start making socks. As legend has it, he went on a skiing vacation in Austria and his socks got wet (a relatable problem, no doubt), so he decided to try applying leather soles to his socks. This led to his family getting into the slipper biz; his family became ghost producers, selling shoes to bigger brands to go to retail. The shoes got so huge, however, that the Otto family founded the Haflinger name in the ‘80s and got to work on building their brand.
Haflinger clogs are made from high quality, 100% virgin wool (meaning that it’s from the lamb’s first shearing), cork latex, and vegetable-tanned leather. But great ingredients aren’t the only thing that makes Haflingers superior; no, Haflinger actually has medical experts in-house to design the shoes to support good foot health. And you can tell when you wear them—the arch support is ideal, and a leather band runs the perimeter of the shoe’s opening, eventually stretching to nestle your foot perfectly. The soft, cozy wool used throughout will make your foot say, “Finally, I am home. What time is Columbo on?”
I really spent the last decade thinking my foot came in a shape that didn’t really fit any man-made product, and that I was doomed to search for perfect shoes until the end of time. I now stan the classic Haflinger GZL clog in the charcoal color—an absolute beauty of a shoe. They slide on with great ease, and I’ve not only found them tolerable, but aggressively comfortable. I felt transported to Europe immediately when I first tried them on, suddenly possessed by the need to leave the store to go drink beer and eat schnitzel. They’re legitimately supportive: Where I used to have some arch pain when standing and doing dishes too long or running around my apartment cleaning, now I can do chores all day long (not that I do, but what matters is that I could).
German culture has a stigma for being serious, but it’s not all Beethoven, Hegel, and Rainer Werner Fassbinder. (As I fact-checked the previous sentence, I also learned that Lou Bega was born and raised in Germany. The more you know!) Like Cr*cs, Haflingers also have a sense of humor: You can get slippers with coffee mugs on them, ones with some fun, colorful little circles, clogs with pretty hearts, a pretzels and beer iteration for your dad, and even distressingly adorable ones featuring A LITTLE POLKA DOT DOG OMFG. And when it comes to the clogs, there are a number of handsome options.
TL;DR: Haflingers are a great investment. They’re not too expensive to begin with, and they look cool, are super comfortable, and last (nearly) forever; literally, I know people who have had the same pair for years and years. Whether you suffer from sore feet or just feel like you deserve to be extra comfy around the house (we all do!), this is truly a great brand. Anyway, if you need me, I’ll be doing the dishes or, more likely, watching Columbo. And not because I’ve suddenly turned old, but simply because it’s an awesome show.
Haflinger clogs are available on Amazon.
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