I first learned about Tidal New York flip flops from an article in the New York Times and I knew I needed to review them. It sounded like Tidal New York was a company doing a lot of good in their community by hiring veterans to work in their state-of-the-art factory, creating jobs, and using earth-friendly manufacturing materials and processes.
I was also skeptical, as I always am, of flip flop companies that tout their social or environmental considerations as much as or more than the actual products they make and sell – flip flops.
“I was concerned even before I ordered my first pair.”
We’ve reviewed flip flops from several such companies including, Toms, Olli, & Free Waters. We found that only one of them made a flip flop worth buying, one had their heart in the right place but just missed the mark when it came to making flip flops, and one was little more than a cynical self-righteous extension of the founders ego that likely did more harm than good. For two of the three, you’d be better off skipping the purchase and donating the cost of the flip flops directly to your favorite charity.
Hence my trepidation going into my first pair of Tidal New York flip flops. They certainly seem to have their hearts in the right place and are doing real good in their community. However, I was concerned even before I ordered my first pair.
What concerned me? It began with their marketing. Specifically, the image of a man, in an ultra-trendy black sport coat sans shirt with a bright blue flip flop on…his head.
“One of the very basics of that life is that you wear the flip flops on your feet.”
We’re all for living the flip flop life our own way but one of the very basics of that life is that the flip flops are worn on the feet. Now I appreciate art and artistic license – hell we pair flip flops with music and drinks – but this seems like someone trying a bit too hard and to distract from the actual product – the flip flop. Like a macro brewery’s focus on the “innovations” on their cans (it turns blue when cold…ok) with little to say about the product within. But I digress…
What follows is my review of the Tidal New York Classic flip flop itself and not the overall brand, intent, or people of Tidal New York.
“On a more positive note, the style isn’t bad.”
Let’s start with fit. Which is, in a word, terrible. I have very, very narrow, yet these flip flops are so narrow that I don’t see how the width would fit anyone. The length from toe to heel is perfectly true to size.
Yet the width is ridiculously narrow. It’s as if they took a pair of children’s flip flops and stretched them to an adult size by pulling on the toe and heel. At the narrowest point, the arch, they are just three inches wide.
The heel isn’t much better at 3 and a quarter inches wide. For comparison, they are a half inch narrower at the arch and heel than the very narrow and similarly styled Hunter Original flip flops. Because of this my foot hangs over the edge of the flip flops and come into contact with ground yuck way more often than I’m comfortable with. Plus, they make my very narrow feet look like they’re doing their best Chris Farley, “fat guy in a little coat impression.” I can only imagine how they’d fit someone with average or, God forbid, wide feet.
“Unfortunately, they aren’t comfortable.”
On a more positive note, the style isn’t bad. They are sleek (due in large part to being incredibly narrow), the straps reach way back and connect at the back of the arch of the foot. The Tidal logo is discretely embossed on the outer strap of each flip flop.
There is a slight hump at the edge of the arch on each sole that provides the idea of support. They look like an upscale and very narrow pair of rubber Havaianas flip flops.
The traction is just fine. I had more issues with my feet gushing over the edges than I did with any traction issues. The treads are made up of an array of stars from the arch forward, separated by the Tidal New York full logo in the center and more traditional horizontal grooves across the heel for traction. The bottom of the shoe looks really good and adds to the overall style of the flip flops.
“I take no pleasure in this review…”
Unfortunately, they aren’t comfortable. This is due, yet again, to the extreme narrowness. In addition to my feet spilling over the edges of the flip flops the straps are attached to the footbed under my arch on both sides and dig into my feet with each step. The hard rubber toe post is unforgiving and relentlessly chafed my toes.
Overall, the flip flops themselves are very disappointing. They look good, the company’s heart is certainly in the right place and they are doing some real good but the final product is so bad that I found them to be unwearable even as house slippers.
Despite my determination to power through the pain and ick to test them. Every time I put them on, I could not wait until I could take them off, and that just isn’t right for any pair of flip flops.
I take no pleasure in this review, I really wanted them to live up to the quality of all that surrounds their design, manufacturing, and social good but they simply do not.