Stuff We Love: 49 Different Looks From One Pair of Mohop Sandals
I have terrible feet. Really, I do. Years of soccer and dancing as a child have resulted in seriously ganked up feet as an adult. My right foot is so deformed that I can't wear a lot of closed toe shoes, never mind sandals. So, when I discovered Mohops, it was as if the great shoe goddess had schlepped forward out of the underworld and showered all her dark glory upon my bum pinky toe.
What Are These Magical Shoes?
Designed by Chicago-based architect, Annie Mohaupt, Mohops are wood-soled, eco-friendly, vegan shoes that can be laced with ribbon or fabric to create an almost infinite number of sandal styles.
Mohops are bespoke footwear A.K.A. custom made from scratch at the Mohop workshop in Chicago. The shoes consist of a wood heel and a patented system of elasticized loops through which the wearer can lace her choice of ribbons, fabric, or trim.
In addition to heel height, loop layout, and loop number, Mohop customers can choose from three different wood choices, six different footbed colors, two different loop colors, four different nail head colors, and three different sole colors.
The company also offers a more affordable "bridge" line of flats called "Mopeds." They are less expensive than the bespoke line, as they are produced in standard sizes unlike the custom Mohops. They've also introduced Mokobos, a line of platform sandals. Mokobos are based on Okobo, the traditional, Japanese willow wood sandals worn by maiko (apprentice geisha). These platforms have a very slight rise, but have the foot feel of a flatter shoe. For those who care, their modern profile is currently on trend for fall footwear.
What's Great About Them
I own two pairs of bespoke Mohops: Low Maple Slides and High Walnut Wedges. These shoes were custom made for me based on an actual tracing of my feet and an email consultation with Annie Mohaupt. I'm saving up for a pair of the Mopeds flats for an upcoming trip overseas.
For most of my life, part of being a lady has meant enduring foot pain for the sake of cute footwear. I know that I'm not alone. I know many women who have Denial Bunions from wearing impractical shoes. I suspect that Annie Mohaupt knows about suffering for shoes too, as Mohops, even the high wedges, are well-balanced, and exquisitely comfortable. Even in my high Mohop wedges I can stand all day without foot pain. I don't think it's a coincidence that Mohop has an all-woman workshop.
They're Custom Made
Since the ball of my foot is shorter than average, my feet tend to slide towards the front of most heels. This makes most heels hugely uncomfortable, as the arch support doesn't actually hit the arches of my feet. This forward slide also gives me the appearance that I'm playing dress up with my mother's shoes, as I end up with that unsightly extra space at the back of the shoe. Both pairs of Mohops fit like they were made just for me…because they were. Per my request Annie also added an extra set of loops to the toes of my Low Maple Slides, so I would have additional bum toe-hiding lacing possibilities.
Since these shoes are made to order, they are obviously a great option for people with big, tiny, extra-wide, extra-narrow, or odd-sized feet.
Even for people with pretty feet, Mohops are superheroes of the shoe rack. Because of the stupidly small closets in Dinky Manor, I am constantly searching for convertible or reversible clothes that allow me to shrink the physical size of my wardrobe without shrinking my outfit choices.
Mohops are also wonderful wedding shoes, as the bride can match her shoes with the colors of her wedding, or even with the trim of her gown. (Not to mention they would be super wearable on the honeymoon and after.)
They're Great for Travel
Although I already own two pairs of bespoke Mohops, I'm actually coveting the not-custom Moped flats because I'm prepping for a 100-day job overseas that will take me from rainy London to the arid desert of Spain and the sunny Canary Islands off the coast of Africa. Mopeds are the ultimate cute travel shoe. The flats are flat, light, and easy to pack. Also, from furiously e-stalking the Mohop photo gallery, I know that even though socks with sandals is generally a fashion no-no, there are plenty of Chicago girls who are coordinating their woolly stockings and leg warmers with their ribbon collection to winterize their Mohops.
They're Vegan and Socially Responsible
All of my vegan friends have tremendous trouble finding dressy, cruelty-free footwear. It's especially hard for them to find non-leather brown shoes that don't look cheesy. Unless I lace my shoes with leather, my Mohops are creature-free.
Mohop really works hard to be socially conscious, too. They've partnered with Jhoole, a non-profit in India that pays women fair-trade wages to hand make one-of-a-kind Mohop laces out of sarees (or saris). 100% of the purchase price of the Mohop saree laces goes back to the Jhoole training center that currently is working with 500 women and building a computer center.
What Mohops Compare To
Due to the wood heel, the experience of wearing Mohops is very similar to wearing a top quality Swedish clog or Dr. Scholl's famous leg toning sandals. If you've never worn shoes that don't have a flexible sole, the sensation of walking on wood takes some getting used to.
Although my Mohops are pricier than my already expensive, sky-high Swedish Hasbeens clogs that never go on sale, the Mohops have a more polished appearance, as the clogs have an unfinished wooden sole and visible staples that I would not call decorative. Sooner rather than later I am going to have to take my Hasbeens into my cobbler for alteration, as the leather uppers will stretch to the point my feet will scoot around inside. By comparison, if I need to adjust my Mohops, I simply tighten or loosen the lacing.
I also own several pairs of Manolo Blahnik and Ferragamo shoes, which are two handmade shoes that are known for the comfort of their heels. Mohops are just as comfy as these famous designer labels.
How They Could Be Better
At $415 for my bespoke High Walnut Wedges, Mohops rival the prices of other top shoe brands. That said, they are expensive, but frugal. A set of seven ribbons and several pairs of wood and metal rings are included with every pair, along with a card set that show how to lace the shoes in seven different ways. Right out of the box, I have 49 different pairs of shoes.
Because these shoes are not mass-produced, I experienced a two week lag between the time that I ordered my shoes and the time they arrived via Priority Mail. Anticipate a delay in receiving your order. That said, the shoes arrive in a neat plastic shoe box, which also contains a silk bag full of ribbons, rings, and other treats, making the shoes giftable straight out of the packing box.
Bottom Line Recommendation
If you have problematic feet, then Mohops are a wardrobe staple. For everyone else, they are a creative way to accessorize and improve the wearability of your wardrobe.
Where to Get Yours
Mohops can be purchased in person at a very limited number of retailers. Everyone else must take the risk of buying shoes online. Annie makes this process much less daunting by helpfully supplying printable shoe charts and providing excellent customer support via email.
The Mohop Etsy store offers Mopeds and Mokobos, and occasionally, bespoke Mohops that have come back for one reason or another.
A limited selection of (very affordable!) sandals are available through Amazon.
What are your favorite comfortable, wooden, bespoke, vegan shoes?