It’s officially cute sneaker season, and that can only mean one thing: retiring my snow-stained boots to finally look put together for the first time all year. As someone who lives in Montreal, Canada, the weather is often too unpredictable to invest in a pair of luxurious sneakers for everyday wear, but I’d do anything for journalism.
That’s why I was super thrilled to put Allbirds’ new lifestyle shoe to the test: The just-launched The Riser is designed with the brand’s most popular natural materials like canvas, tree fiber, wool, bio-based foam and natural rubber. Stick around to find out if the trendy new shoes might be a fit for you.
Available in four different colors, Allbirds' newest lifestyle shoe is designed for all-day wear and is made from natural materials like canvas and eucalyptus tree fiber.
What is The Riser?
If you’re a fan of all things Allbirds, the newest kid on the brand’s block might be a wise addition to your spring wardrobe: The Riser is a lifestyle shoe designed for all-day comfort that you can rock with a flowy skirt as easily as you can a matching tracksuit on a Hot Girl Walk. Its allure lies in its use of natural materials like canvas around the forefoot and heel for support, eucalyptus tree fiber along the eyestay pieces around the laces and tongue as a durable and earth-friendly alternative to nylon ripstop, ethical merino wool as a functional design element that also provides extra comfort at the heel, sugarcane-based foam at the midsole for some pep in your step, and natural rubber for proper traction derived from the latex vessels of rubber-yielding plants.
They ring in at $135 per pair, come in four versatile colorways — Honey Rust, Indigo, Natural Black and Natural White — and are available in men’s and women’s whole sizes 7 to 14 and 5 to 11, respectively.
First impressions of Allbirds’ Riser
While first impressions are everything, I like to think of myself as the Paula Abdul of judges, giving most things the benefit of the doubt and ability to redeem themselves. First, their look is unmistakably 2023, boasting both a futuristic vibe with an angular heel and sole mixed with a little bit of dad sneaker vibes to anchor them back down to earth. It’s not something I would reach for personally (I struggle to take fashion risks and stand out too much), so these definitely took me out of my comfort zone in a way that I appreciate.
Next, I love that the colorway I chose — Natural White with a Blizzard sole — is more of a creamy beige hue, which can be slightly more forgiving in inclement weather or walks through grass and mud than a standard bone-white shoe. While I’m personally not a huge fan of the other funkier colorways because my outfits tend to use brighter color palettes, they each create a serious style statement while still feeling versatile. Plus, the gender-neutral look is much appreciated for this gal who prefers shopping in the men’s section.
What we liked about them
As a relatively short person at 5 foot 3, I’ll seize any opportunity to get a bit of extra lift. I love how noticeably taller I felt in these sneakers, thanks to their 1.25-inch platform (depending on when you’re measuring from) and how said heel boasts a sharp and boxy silhouette that drives the futuristic theme home. I appreciate how the subtle pointed toe further elongates my legs, making them far more flattering than I anticipated.
I can’t help but value the brand’s tremendously obsessive attention to the fabrics used. Each one not only feels luxurious to the touch but also serves as an eco-friendly alternative to other common shoe materials that play a part in irreparable damage to the planet (no petroleum-based nylon, chemicals or pesticides were used in the making of these shoes, and they’re carbon neutral).
Evocative of some of my favorite running shoes from brands like Lululemon, Hoka and Reebok, the outsoles at the tip and heel are slightly rounded, allowing you to more easily propel yourself forward with each step. I have a high instep, which has always made it challenging to find the perfect fit, but I was pleased to find the collar didn’t suffocate my ankle. Instead, I felt grounded and supported in the shoe.
What we didn’t like about them
Because Allbirds’ Tree Flyer sneakers fit like a cushion and a feather mixed into one, I had high hopes. From the exterior, their wide toe box looks like it would accommodate a foot like mine that’s on the brink of developing bunions from years of heel-wearing, competitive dance, marathon training and working as a personal trainer. If you’ve got a similar foot profile to mine and are used to a heavily cushioned shoe, these might not be it, likely because The Riser’s thick material occupies some of that space that might otherwise be best suited for, well, your foot.
In a two-hour walk around my neighborhood and a jaunt through the grocery store (I like to test out my shoes not just in motion but using dynamic movements like turning, starting, stopping and standing), the platform heel didn’t provide the plush surface I was hoping for. I realize most shoes require a break-in period, so I wore them around my house for three full days of working, cleaning and cooking. I regret to say that I breathed a sigh of relief when I took them off. While the brand claims the midsole foam conforms to your foot over time, life is too short for long-and-drawn-out break-in periods when you’ve got a pair of fuzzy Crocs staring you down.
Footwear is such a personal investment because our feet are all shaped differently, and we all use them in different ways, from our gait style to intended activity. While these sneakers are certainly beautiful in their fabrics used, their futuristic-meets-retro silhouette and their subtle heel for a (literally) elevated take on any old sneaker you’ve got lying around at home, as well as their reasonable price at $135 a pop, they don’t quite work for my unique purposes or how I prefer a shoe to fit.
However, if you’re lucky enough to try The Riser on and find them comfortable for your particular foot, you’re in for virtually limitless styling opportunities for as long as the weather permits.