Road Test: Earth Shoes

"Don't hate me because my shoes are ugly." That's what I felt like telling people who leered at my Heritage 2 model Earth Shoes as I lumbered around NYC. They look like the ones I had in 1975--wide and lumpish, with that trademarked Negative Heel Technology that makes you feel like you're always walking uphill. But amid today's sleek, high-tech sport shoes, an Earth Shoe looks as stylish--and feels as comfortable--as a brick. "Are they orthopedic?" asked a friend. Earth Footwear is re-releasing the old brand for fall, hoping to capitalize on 1970s nostalgia the way VW did with the Beetle. The styles in stores are much lighter than the early pair I tested, though a rep says the shoes do "take getting used to." Kids like 'em, she adds. Maybe it's an age thing.

Tip: You have to ease into Earth Shoes; break them in just a few hours at a time.

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