Kids shoes that don’t fall apart. Is it too much to ask? Yes, we know on any given day a kid’s shoe can take a beating—on the pavement and in playgrounds and schoolyards, in skate parks and out on the grass. Still, it seems it doesn’t take much more than half a season before soles start to crack in half, mesh linings blow a catastrophic leak and toes virtually disintegrate.
When I started scouting shoes for my kids this season, I promised myself it would be all about durability, tried and true brands and a wee bit of style thrown in for good measure—I want the kids to want to wear them after all. I think I've come up with some winners here. Ready, set, go!
Keen Kids Chandler CNX
Keen has come a long way from its summer water shoes. The key to the strength of this shoe is its reinforced toe and upper and its sturdy sole. A breathable mesh lining keeps kids’ feet from getting sweaty (which means they wont stink up the car!). Love the girls styles, too.
Adidas Original Kids Superstar
The iconic adidas Superstar never goes out of style (in fact, it’s hotter than ever), but what makes this shoe a keeper is its full-grain leather upper and rubber toe that can withstand some serious play. Toddler sizes are soooo cute I just can’t stand it.
Puma Kids Cabana Racer
This lightweight and really cute sneaker from Puma has nice cushioning for comfort and spring. Overlays reinforce the toe, and the Velcro straps help you get out the door on time.
Sperry Kids BillFish
The Billfish by Sperry takes the classic boat shoe up a notch with a shock-absorbing heel and revved up sole—yet they look respectable with uniforms and dressier duds. Sly. Girls styles have some flair.
Vans Kids Sk8 Hi
If I could only pick one shoe for all 2017, this would be it. Durable suede upper, back zipper for easy on and off, padded ankle support, nice cushioning and traction. But, yeah, they’re also COOL and come in a stylish array of choices for the discerning child. It’s the shoe they’ll want to be wearing. And options for girls are beyond.
Vans Kids Classic Slip-On
Of course, you’ve got to add a classic Vans slip-on to your shopping cart, too. A staple of any kid’s wardrobe in durable canvas in a myriad of patterns that fit any aesthetic.
Old Soles Ankle-Strap Ballet Flats
Not just any ballet flat, this one by Old Soles comes with arch support, an uber soft leather lining and strong rubber sole for all-day comfort. The elasticized opening and ankle strap keeps the shoe in place for school and recess. The brand has a nice range of options for toddlers, too.
See Kai Run Kids Slater
A cute slip-on loafer with nice toe protection and some superior walkin’ shoe style for little kids still working on their lacing skills. Awarded the Seal of Acceptance from the American Podiatric Medical Association.
Toms Kids Deia
These Toms booties feature a natural suede upper, durable sole and supple cushioned footbed—kind of like a boot jacked up for fun. And with every pair you purchase, a pair goes to a child in need. Nice.
School Issue Semester
If you’re looking for a basic oxford, it’s hard to top the Semester by School Issue. In super soft suede, it features major padding in the insole and tons of spring in that classic rubber sole.
Converse Kids Chuck Taylor All Star Hi
If I were going back to school, I know I’d want to be strutting the halls in these high-top Chuck Taylors. First off, metallic! And second, third and last, Converse style, comfort and eternal staying power.
An awesome Mary Jane for girls. Check out that outsole, it is NOT going to crack. And PLAE styles are made to be AFO-friendly (ankle-foot orthotic) for stability, support and comfort.
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