Comfort Trends

Work It!

Athletic styles likes Dansko’s Peony sneaker are popular with healthcare workers. The $140 sneaker features support and shock absorption.

For healthcare and hospitality workers who are often on their feet all day, proper footwear can make a significant difference in how their bodies feel at the end of a shift. Support, durability and comfort are all key traits that these professionals look for in their on-the-job footwear. Not to mention slip-resistant soles and easy to clean uppers. And of course, one key trait never to be overlooked is style. Here, brands share insight on what consumers need in their work footwear, and how brands are delivering on those consumer needs.

What are the top performance traits healthcare and hospitality workers are looking for in their footwear?

“The top trait healthcare workers are looking for is great arch support, so that they can focus on their job and not on foot pain during long shifts. They are also looking for slip-resistant outsoles, which not only bring peace of mind but are also a requirement by many employers. The other key feature they are looking for is durable upper materials so that they can wipe off fluids without damage to the shoe.”

—Megan Gold, design director, Alegria

Sanita’s Trident is a $123 style that pairs well with popular jogger style scrubs and includes features such as slip-resistant soles and anti-bacterial footbeds.

“Support and durability. Styling is always important, but first and foremost, a shoe needs to work for you, not against you. While many healthcare and hospitality workers have recently opted for unstructured sneakers, we are seeing them return to our purposely overbuilt professional clogs for the foot benefits that their other shoes just cannot deliver. Often, when your shift ends, you still have a lot of day ahead of you: leaving work with foot and lower body exhaustion is simply not a compromise that our customers are willing to make.”

—Matthew Tracy, M. Leonard International Inc. (Sanita distributor)

The Naples from KLOGS is cushioned and supportive with easy-clean patent uppers.

“The most important attribute to someone who spends long periods of time on their feet is comfort. Footwear is a crucial component to how the body feels after a long day on hard surfaces. We believe in long term comfort, so we exclusively use Polyurethane underfoot to ensure our comfort never quits. The second trait is going to be cleanability. Healthcare workers’ shoes can be exposed to a variety of fluids and other pathogens that require quick clean up. Finally, most healthcare and hospitality workers want their shoes to be easy to slip on and off so that their feet can get some fresh air any time they have a second to rest…which isn’t often.”

—Matt Dieckhaus, VP sales and marketing, Latitudes Inc. (KLOGS and mōshn)

“Healthcare workers are on their feet all day and night. With that, they need continuous comfort and support for standing and walking for long hours. The Peony also offers easy on and off access when needed.” 

—Kitty Bolinger, EVP of sales and marketing, Dansko

“Top traits healthcare workers (or anyone working long hours on their feet) should be looking for are support, slip-resistance and easy-clean. Shoes with an excellent foundation are key. No to dead flat shoes, no to shoes that lack cushioning, and lack support contouring. No to high heels that increase pressure under the forefoot. No to shoes that don’t hold onto your foot well. If you’re on your feet for long hours, you need a shoe that fits well, and feels like supportive cushions under your feet. I’m a firm believer in a shoe that has a sole and a footbed that are not too hard, and not too soft—this is optimal to reduce foot and leg symptoms. Ideally,  a footbed that cradles the heel and supports the arch are features that enable women to go about their day with a spring in their step.” 

—Caroline McCullough, Founder & Designer, B. Podiatry, FRANKIE4 

How Brands Are Delivering on Consumer Needs:

Sanita’s Ramone Clog is on-trend as a front-of-house fashion style for hospitality workers.

Sanita: The brand’s tech is pretty traditional: Podiatrist-certified design and quality hand-craftsmanship performed by its own team in its factory in Europe. Says Tracy, “Just as we have for over 100 years, Sanita footwear can both prevent foot fatigue and injury and also pick up the slack when other footwear fails. A lot of lightweight, minimal footwear feels great on your foot heading out the door in the morning, but they will not deliver that same comfort four, eight, or 10 hours into a shift. Even in the clog category specifically, Sanita clogs are intentionally designed with a snugger, more secure fit than many others: when you are making quick moves in the emergency room or trying to save that tray from toppling, you need ultimate confidence in what you are wearing on your feet.”

KLOGS: The brand promise is “comfort that outlasts the day.” What makes KLOGS unique, says Dieckhaus is that “they feel great right out of the box and will be just as cushioned and supportive the very last time that they are worn.” This is thanks to the brand’s TRUComfort insole and TRUBase outsole. “These partners in crime are both made from proprietary polyurethane, ensuring that our comfort never changes,” he notes. “Our uppers are all full grain leathers and patents that are easy to wipe clean and our KLOGFit makes our shoes easy to slip on and off.” 

The mōshn Pulse provides stability and support and is machine-washable.

mōshn: For mōshn, it’s all about the brand’s Dynamic Motion Technology. Shoes from mōshn provide stability when standing and an enhanced toe spring that naturally moves the wearer forward, meaning less energy is used, says Dieckhaus. “Each pair of mōshn  distributes weight to the heel, which helps to improve posture, meaning happy back and joints,” he explains. Everything underfoot is polyurethane and made to feel great right out of the box and continue to provide the same cushion and support for the entire life of the shoe. SmartKnit uppers on the shoes are machine washable.

Alegria’s Solstyce in Tapioca and the fluid-resistant Eclips in Pansy Power, both $149.95, are on-trend for healthcare style and packed with tech details.

Alegria: “Our shoes have amazing arch support, which is built into the footbed,” notes Gold. “The footbeds are replaceable (which extends the life of the shoe) and most are available in wide widths for a customized fit. Our customers love this feature.” Additionally, the bottoms of the shoes not only feature slip-resistant tread, but are also made of durable, long-lasting polyurethane. The new ROK n ROLL outsole on Alegria’s Solstyce and Eclips, as well as the outsole on the Duette are rocker bottoms, which create a rolling motion so that the foot does not fully flex and that takes the pressure off the arch and ball of the foot and helps to prevent foot fatigue. For Fall 2023, the Eclips features a new technology called Liquid Shell, which is a membrane barrier between the upper and the lining, and it allows for liquid to roll off. “Athletic looks are huge in healthcare trends, but many athletic shoes are not fluid-resistant and the Eclips is just that,” says Gold. 

FRANKIE4 styles like the all-black Nat II sneaker feature soft support, slip-resistance and easy-clean uppers.

FRANKIE4: Four key differentiators help the Australian brand stand out. 1) Sole Hero  Footbeds: Enabling soft support in every FRANKIE4 shoe, the Sole Hero Footbed is designed with the aim to help create better alignment (or movement) in the foot and leg by supporting the heel and arch with soft contours. Featuring layers of contoured materials with differing softness, it is designed with the aim to provide shock absorption and to increase comfort under the foot when standing and walking on hard surfaces. 2) Sole Saver Pack: Created because no two feet are the same—narrow, wide, bunioned or not—this helps FRANKIE4 shoes fit every unique foot like a glove. These complimentary packs include two full-length footbeds, two half-length footbeds, and two forefoot cushions, so each purchaser can piece together their perfectly tailored fit. 3) Backed by health professionals: The brand says its products have had thousands of podiatrists and physical therapists test and provide feedback, to ensure each FRANKIE4 buyer is receiving the best product possible. 4) Slip-resistant: Selected FRANKIE4 styles in the brand’s sneaker and workwear range meet the slip-resistance standards of EN-ISO 20347:2012(SRC) and ISO 13287 (SRB).

Dansko: The brand is known for its proprietary footbeds. “We encourage consumers to take them out and see the difference for themselves,” says Bolinger, noting that some footwear styles on the market for healthcare have little or no support. The Peony footbed features the brand’s popular Dansko Natural Arch technology (DNA), for added arch support and heel stability. Also, these EVA footbeds include a shock absorbing heel pad and a Propel forepart for energy return.