Note: this item was sent for review purposes.
Oliver Cabell is hard to miss today, making a wide variety of fashionable shoes at reasonable prices. They boast performance claims as well, and so when I was offered a chance to take the Phoenix sneakers for a spin, I was happy to do so. This is a ‘3D printed’ shoe made from recycled water bottles also boasts a wide variety of claims, all for a really good price of $95 MSRP.
How I Tested
These shoes arrived just after lock down here, so I was worried it would be difficult to test. However, given that they were brand new, I wore them all day while I worked at home — at my standing desk for 8 hours which is a pretty close representation to a normal day at the office for me. As the lock down eased I was able to put some miles on them outdoors as well.
So while my testing didn’t perfectly mimic what I might see in the real world, I did wear them a ton and I think the only thing I cannot comment on is how easily the white will dirty up, because I didn’t get to wear them in a lot of scenarios where that might happen.
Fit and Style
Let’s talk about fit first, since that is the single most important factor in a shoe being comfortable. There are some interesting items to note with these:
- They only are sold in whole sizes only.
- Oliver Cabell notes: “Fits narrow and short, size up if between sizes.”
- Customer Reviews peg the sizing almost exactly at “true to size” maybe just a tick under that (which I attribute to the narrowness of the shoe).
With that said, I wear a size 11.5 in sneakers, and 11 in boots. Based on all that info I got size 12s, right? Makes sense. They are almost 3/4 a size too large. A size 11.5, would of course fit perfect, while I am almost certain an 11 would be too small. I think the advice is bad — if you wear a whole size comfortably in sneakers, order that, between sizes, you might try another shoe. That’s where I land on this one. For me, whole shoe sizes only is a big miss, especially for something 3D printed.
From a style perspective, I really dig them. Yes they are very white, but they are also narrow (not too narrow, average width feet should be fine) so they don’t look goofy. They look nice, simple, and pair with almost everything up to smart casual. Pluses all around for style.
Alright here’s the good stuff, let’s look at what is claimed on the website about these shoes: “A shoe that’s light and cooling with cloud-like cushioning to fit your every move.” “Machine-washable 3D printed upper…” Further, I want to note that on many other sites I have seen these shoes marketed as some of the most breathable out there.
Here’s where I land on all these claims:
- Light: yeah, like these are super light, and not floppy either. They have plenty of structure and almost no weight. It’s awesome.
- Cooling: nope. Sorry, but for how hard these are marketed for cooling properties I say no way. I wore them with merino wool socks in an AC house and my feet came out sweaty. Not much better outside in Houston heat. I could see how in cooler climates you might find these cooling, but not in hot and humid, it’s just not there. Almost every Nike running/cross training shoes I have owned have faired better.
- Cloud Like Cushioning: it is comfy and there is good cushion, however I don’t know about cloud like. I will say, and credit to them — far more supportive and comfortable than Allbirds (our review).
- Machine Washable: yes, surprisingly they wash up really well — almost like new. But there were no notes for drying so I air dried and it has taken well over 24 hours to get them to damp but wearable. So do note that.
The last thing I will note is that tongue is a little bit of a sticky type of rubbery material. It has a hard time staying in place for sure, and really is hard to pull back up if you shove your foot in. It’s not a big deal, just something to get used to.
This shoe is a mixed bag, I think if they had half sizes, it would be a lot better shoe for me. I won’t give it credit for breathability though, but the eco statements are nice. For the money (and you can often find these on sale other places) it can be a good deal for a good looking and comfortable shoe.
If the sizing works for you, then these are better than other hyped shoes (like Allbirds, those suck) but if you are a half size person then wait until they come out with those. And don’t count on these being a super cool shoe for your feet if you live in the hot and humid southern US, maybe in cooler climates they feel better. I have a hard time with them in the summer heat.