Fair Trade and Sustainable Shoes - Bali ELF Shoe Review - Midsummer Sandals + Dreamer Wedges
I think I first stumbled across Bali ELF handmade shoes when searching etsy for handmade leather sandals. I favorited the Bali Elf Etsy Shop and started to follow them on instagram. There’s no denying it.. they make gorgeous shoes. From flats to sandals to wedges, heels, and boots you are sure to find something to suit your style.
About Bali Elf
All of the designs are created and produced in Bali, Indonesia. The ELF stands for “Everyone Living Free”. Bali ELF believes in fair trade production, ensuring that their tailors receive fair wages, training, time off, and something priceless: respect.
Because all materials are local and items are made by hand and not large machinery, Bali ELF operates in a sustainable, earth-friendly manner. Your package will come in recycled materials and any printing they need is done on recycled cocoa paper! Not only doesBali ELF provide sustainable income for their tailors, but also for cocoa farmers when they buy from Cocoa Paper!
Worldwide Shipping & Delivery
Ordered July 17th.
Shipped August 1st.
Delivered August 6th.
Bali ELF offers free shipping on etsy orders and on their website they offer free shipping on orders over $110. But almost anything you would buy would meet that threshold.
Each Bali ELF Shoe, Sandal, or Boot is hand made to order. Hence the lag between order date and shipping date. They recently had some footage on their IG stories, if my memory serves me, of the midsummer sandal being made! Watching the materials being cut by hand, details being created in the leather, and so on was amazing!
Bali Elf Midsummer Sandal Review
The Midsummer sandals run for $125 USD and come in 8-10 color variations. They are a flat sandal with a zippered back that leads up to an ankle strap with decorative buttons. The sandals have a lovely feminine scallop edge.
First thoughts: They are beautiful! The leather feels incredibly soft. ˆINCREDIBLY soft. They look beautiful and the antique red color is accurate to what I saw online. The construction is excellent. These sandals are very quality!
After wearing these for long days on my feet here's what I can say:
My feet hurt and at the same time, they don’t. ?
Basically, these shoes felt great straight out of the box. Nothing rubbed, pinched, or agitated. I never got a blister at all. I think this is thanks to the super high quality materials like that unbelievably soft leather, and the attention to detail on the part of the artisans in design and creation.
On the other hand, these shoes are very flat. They really do not have much (if any) cushion and no arch support at all. This might be okay if you have totally flat feet, but if you’re used to wearing custom insoles or cushiony sandals, you’re definitely going to feel it after a day in these. I spent a whole day walking around NYC in these and my feet definitely hurt. More support would have been a better choice for a walking-intensive day around the city, subway and museums. But again, I had NO BLISTERS! I think that’s a huge accomplishment for a new pair of sandals coupled with how much walking I did. I didn't need any moleskin or bandaids!
Overall Score - Midsummer Sandals
What Could Improve? Bali Elf Midsummer Sandal Review
I would love to see Bali ELF add some [more] cushion to this sandal. If it could just have a little bit more support or shock absorbency it would be fabulous. I am very impressed by the quality of materials and the outstanding craftsmanship. I feel that the price of $125, which seems a lot to most people, is actually a good value for these shoes. They will definitely last for years. Many department store brands retail sandals for $75-100 before sales and they are mass produced in factories with little quality control and terrible materials that will fall apart after one season.
Making of Midsummer Sandals Bali Elf Artisan Video
Bali ELF Dreamer Wedge Sandal Review
The Bali ELF Dreamer Platform Wedge is a beautiful leather sandal boasting a hand-cut wooden wedge. The sandals are 4” tall with a .5” platform and adjustable ankle strap. You can pick them up in some classic leather colors like vintage brown, dark and light tan, and nude as well as a fun, vibrant shade- royal blue. [how perfect would this be with encircled’s custom dyed sustainable royal blue fabric?!] The wedges come in at $150 USD.
Straight out of the package you will be in love with these. The finishing is flawless and they are absolutely stunning. The real wooden wedge is fantastic and going to stand the test of time. Most wedges are cheaply made with a faux wood cover over cheeped materials or a more hollow wedge. Not the case with the Dreamer Wedge.
Although Bali ELF describes them as having a “slightly padded footbed”, I have to gripe again that it is truly a slight padding. After being on your feet for some time, you will quickly be reminded that you are walking on a wooden wedge. lol. Again, due to the beautiful soft leather footbed and finishing, you won’t have any pinching, rubbing, or blistering. But your feet will get sore from that lack of cushion. Bali ELF, I beg you, please add more cushioning or at least an option for more cushioning to all of your footwear. You literally have created almost perfect shoes besides this one key detail!
Overall Score - Dreamer Wedge
The Dreamer Wedges are a more substantial sandal and I have no idea the extra work that goes into that wooden wedge, so I feel the additional $25 is fair, but pushing it IMO to keep the 5/5 value. Quality of materials and craftsmanship is still outstanding. And the same as in the midsummer sandal review - this design loses a point for a lack of cushiony, shock absorbing comfort.
I really do love them though!
Extras! Unboxing Bali ELF Dreamer Wedges and Midsummer Sandals Review
Bali ELF has been many times noted to send some lovely bonuses along with their shoes. In addition to arriving in recycled packaging (thumbs up),Bali ELF Also sent a cloth shoe bag, 2 hand made leather bracelets, incense sticks, and another reusable bag that says “say no to plastic”. These are fun touches that are also useful!!
I think the overall experience withBali ELF was great and there is one other style I am eyeing up for my permanent fall collection. I’d like to reach out to them in advance to find out if extra cushioning can be added to their shoes before I decide if I will order another pair of their shoes. That would be a game changer!
Which Bali ELF style is on your wishlist?
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