When I was in elementary school, my two all-time favorite pieces of clothing to wear were my tie-dye horse T-shirt (the equine version of that infamous Three Wolf Moon shirt from The Mountain Corporation) and my white cheerleading shoes. Those of us who had the pleasure of doing Pop Warner cheerleading in the late '90s will remember the iconic white cheerleading shoes we'd wear on our feet, complete with a dramatized heel/toe in the outsoles and, more importantly, the colorful plastic chips you could pop into the sides to match your team's colors, before inevitably falling out and getting lost in your cheer bag forever.
Since my short-lived cheerleading career nearly three decades ago, I've discovered there's a lot more that goes into picking a sneaker than whether or not you can mix and match accessories (although, I admit—Crocs' jibbitz are cute). Looks are still important, but not nearly as imperative as feel, especially when you're on your feet for long swaths. Happy to report that I've found my "adult" cheerleading sneakers that I now wear all the time. While there are no rainbow plastic swatches on the uppers, they do have a pronounced cheerleader-y heel and toe that make me feel like I can do a toe touch, even though I know damn well my body could never.
Designed in collaboration with podiatrists for long days on your feet, the Klaw 528 Walking Sneaker ($148) will leave your legs doing proverbial cartwheels mile after mile.
Available sizes: women’s 6-11, in half sizes and two widths (Regular and Wide)
Colors: Gamma White, Helio Yellow, Aero Grey, and Kuiper Black
- Light, cushioned midsole
- Slight rocker forefoot
- Deep heel cup with medial/lateral arch support
- Grippy rubber outsole for traction
- Water-resistant, durable, and easy-to-clean
- Minimalist style and color
- Run wide—even the regular width might be wide on narrow feet
- Leather takes a bit to break in
- Polarizing, orthopedic look
Fun fact: Klaw is "walk" backward. The shoe fits; inspired by New York City's walking culture, Klaw's founders are determined to "take design for walkers to a new level," per the brand's website. To do so, the brand works with one of the city's leading podiatrists, Nelya Lobkova, DPM, to create comfortable walking sneakers fit for pounding the pavement, no matter your foot type.
"All the aspects of an optimal walking biomechanical system were taken into account to create this shoe," explains Dr. Lobkova. Using Dr. Lobkova's insights, the team at Klaw engineered an ergonomic walking machine, the Klaw 528 ($148), that leaves feet happy and healthy. Everything—from laces to lug—was strategically designed to make walking better for wearers.
Most notable is the midsole, which is cloud-like and comfortable. "The midsole is lightweight yet cushioned to provide shock absorption for walking in the concrete jungle of the city... In order to prevent a common walking injury like plantar fasciitis (pain in the heel), there needs to be cushioning in the midsole to prevent impact on the heel."
Dr. Lobkova explains the heel-to-toe gradient of the Klaw 528 is 7-mm, putting it right in the sweet spot (between 6-8 mm) for optimal walking mechanics and propulsion. There's also an impressive insole built with a deep heel cup and medial and lateral arch support. "The deep heel cup prevents abnormal outward and inward tilting of the heel, which throws off alignment," says Dr. Lobkova. "The medial and lateral arch support allows the arch of the foot to touch the insole and trigger the proprioceptive response to pronate through midstance."
Meticulously detailed to be ergonomic and anatomically accommodating—even for issues like overpronation, bunions, or hammertoes— Klaw's minimalist sneakers are the ultimate walking companion.
As soon as I unwrapped my Klaw sneakers from the box, I was transported back to the sidelines of my small town's community football field. They really look like a cheer sneakers, complete with the boxy, bright white leather upper, puffy stitching, and dramatized toe and heel.
Candidly, I thought they were pretty ugly. I know the "orthopedic" look is kinda in right now, especially in cities like LA and Brooklyn, but I'm not cool enough to pull off grandma shoes unironically. Or so I thought...
The Klaw 528s are so stupidly comfortable, I don't even care what they look like on my feet. Stepping into them the first time, I could immediately tell a difference in the insole; you can feel the augmented arch support in the insole and the slight rocker outsole in the forefoot. This takes some getting used to since it's definitely a different balance point than most other sneakers, but after a few steps, it's very comfortable and very supportive.
The cushioning at the heel and toe is particularly lavish and completely absorbs shock, even when I'm walking on unforgiving concrete. I also find them to be very supportive, which is vital considering I have severe overpronation and, as such, weak ankles. The deep heel cup and lateral support across the shoe, combined with the stiff, leather upper keep feet in place. As such, I feel more balanced when I wear my Klaws, never like I'm going to roll an ankle or tweak something.
Admittedly, I think they actually look pretty cool now and actually *prefer* to wear them, particularly to balance out more formal outfits, like dresses and skirts. The puffy, oversized silhouette has an early Aughts feel that immediately gives them a vintage vibe. The minimalist, monochrome color palette elevates this retro look even more; currently, the Klaw 528s come in a buttery Helio Yellow, cool Aero Gray, moody Kuiper Black, and my personal favorite, the bright Gamma White which goes with everything. And while you think that monochrome leather would be hard to keep clean, they actually don't scuff or smudge easily. They're completely water-resistant, perfect for staying dry through unexpected rain storms or gross city puddles, and clean off with a simple swipe of a paper towel.
Some things to note: Out of the box, the leather is very stiff. Be prepared to fight with the laces a bit to get them to tighten the upper, especially if you have narrow feet. Speaking of, they do run wide, even in the Regular width. That spacious, boxy toe box is great for accommodating issues like bunions and hammertoes but is a bit roomy on narrow feet like mine. Size down if you run on the narrow side, and when in doubt, wear a thicker sock.
Although they don't have the cute, colorful plastic chips on the side, these are *much* comfier than my cheer shoes of yore. If you live in an urban area and do a lot of walking, they're worth having in your walking rotation. Just do it while they're in stock—the brand just re-upped its sold-out sizes, so the complete size range (women's 6-11, men's 8-13) is up for grabs online. Now that's something to cheer about. Rah rah!
Loading More Posts...