Toms Alpargata Recycled Cotton Canvas review
With a meteoric, mid-2000s rise akin to the sheepskin Ugg, Toms’ canvas shoes first burst onto the scene as a footwear fad. But where is the brand now? Well, the company is still making its signature slip-on shoes. And as someone who never tried the trend the first time around, I was curious if Toms stood up to the hype—and the test of time.
I reached out to the brand to try out the Toms Alpargata Recycled Cotton Canvas, which are $49.95, to see if they’re sole-ly a bygone fad or if they walk the walk as a bonafide classic.
What are the Toms Alpargata Recycled Cotton Canvas shoes?
Founded in 2006, Toms started with just one shoe: the Alpargata, a slip-on canvas shoe that looks similar to an Espadrille. But more than its distinct appearance, you may remember Toms for its “One to One” concept: For every pair of Toms purchased, a pair was donated to a child in need.
The brand has since shifted its strategy, launching a new giving model in 2021. Rather than donating shoes, the company now donates a third of its profits to “grassroots good,” which its site says includes “cash grants and partnerships with charitable organizations.” According to Toms’ 2021 Impact Report, the company gave over $2 million in grants to its partners last year.
While Toms has also expanded into a slew of new styles over the years—including boots and sneakers—the Alpargata remains an in-demand Toms design. In early 2022, Toms phased out the original Alpargata, replacing it with an “earth-conscious” version. The uppers of the newer shoe are made with 50% recycled cotton, which, according to the brand’s website, requires less “water and energy” than standard cotton.
What I like about the Toms Alpargata Recycled Cotton Canvas shoes
Because the canvas style isn’t designed to brave the Boston snow, I wore mine mainly indoors during my first month of testing. The Alpargata is perhaps the lightest shoe I’ve ever worn, and I enjoyed getting the coverage of a closed-toed shoe while still feeling just as unencumbered as I would in a pair of flip flops. While the edge of the recycled cotton canvas outsole chafed my foot a bit on the first wear, my feet adjusted over time.
They easily slip on and off
As someone who is often in a hurry, my favorite lace-up shoes certainly aren’t doing me any favors. When it comes to an easy-to-slip-on design, the Alpargatas don’t slip up. Thanks to their elastic notch, a V-shaped section of stretchy material on the upper, they’re a cinch to take on and off quickly. I was able to slip the shoes on in seconds and appreciated not needing to lace anything up after kicking them off at the door or under my desk.
They come in several colors
As for styling, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the many versions of the Alpargata come in countless color options—and patterns ranging from koalas to camo—meaning you'll find one that matches your wardrobe. The Recycled Cotton Canvas version is available in six solid shades, and I opted for the versatile ash color. Dressing them down with jeans or joggers, I could see why celebrities like Anne Hathaway and Jennifer Garner have favored them for casual, paparazzi-captured outings over the years.
It has more traction than the previous Alpargata
I also tested the original Toms Alpargata right before the brand discontinued it. In addition to what the company claims are more “earth-conscious” materials, the newer model also has improved traction. Unlike the initial version, the Alpargata Recycled Cotton Canvas has grooves in the sole, ensuring you won’t slip as easily after, well, slipping them on.
What I don’t like about the Toms Alpargata Recycled Cotton Canvas shoes
They’re hard to wear with socks
While Alpargatas are meant to be worn barefoot, I was hesitant to keep sliding my foot into a closed-toed shoe that day after day I'd been wearing, and therefore sweating in. Although the shoes feature a built-in “sock liner,” the options for styling with real socks are fairly limited—unless you don’t mind them poking out the top of the shoe. I’ve tried ped socks, but haven’t had luck keeping them from scrunching up underneath my feet.
They’re not suited for all seasons
The Alpargatas seem best suited to spring and early fall, as they’re too lightweight to comfortably wear outside during wintertime in a cold climate. However, as I experienced inside my typically far-too-hot apartment, my feet got sweaty—and made me worry the shoes would start to smell—when wearing them in warmer temperatures. While I never needed to clean mine, Toms recommends using a damp cloth, lukewarm water, and mild soap to clean if needed—but not tossing them in the washer like some other eco-friendly shoes do, such as Allbirds.
They’re not super supportive
Although the Alpargata features the custom Toms insole, as a former college cross-country runner with chronic foot pain, I’m particularly sensitive about unsupportive shoes. While Toms isn’t marketed as a replacement for orthopedic options, they’re too thin to provide substantial cushion. Personally, I would only wear them around the house, for quick trips down the block, or as something to slip on during a car or train ride. However, the newer Alpargata Recycled Cotton Canvas shoes felt far more comfortable and cushy than the original version I tried.
Are the Toms Alpargata Recycled Cotton Canvas shoes worth it?
Maybe, depending on what you’re looking for
In my opinion, the value of the design lies in its slip-on nature, but if you’re someone who needs supportive shoes or values durable, cold-weather-ready styles, the Alpargatas likely wouldn’t be worth the almost $50 price tag. However, if you’re looking for a casual shoe to substitute for a flip flop, everyday sneaker, or even a slipper, the Alpargatas could be a suitable choice.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.