The first time we saw Calzuros was on the feet of a rather elegant head nurse at New York–Presbyterian Hospital. Amid a sea of squeaky supportive sneakers, she, in her scrubs-matching navy clogs, seemed to stride the linoleum floors just a bit more gracefully. The second time was a cornflower-blue pair belonging to a stylish lady heading into a Bed-Stuy Pilates studio. And the third, this time bright yellow, was on our regular waiter at Achilles Heel in Greenpoint.
While most people associate nurse (and chef) footwear with hefty Danskos and blobby Crocs, Calzuro’s slim silhouette aesthetically aligns more with a pair of No. 6 New School clogs. The slip-on manages to mold its satisfyingly chunky rubber into a somewhat dainty design. Made in Italy and created for surgeons, Calzuros — which are available in nearly 20 shades, including a near-crimson red, an Yves Klein–esque blue, and a pine green, in addition to the more understated black and navy — have been around since the early ’80s cultivating a solid and varied fan base. A quick search of #Calzuros will lead you into the delightful world of Nurse Instagram, though sprinkled within it are photos of non-nurses who still, more or less, stand for a living.
Among these people is Brian Civitello, a cheese-maker and the founder of Mystic Cheese Co. in Groton, Connecticut. He bought his first pair of Calzuros in the fall of 2013 on a work trip to Italy, where he noticed them on a fellow cheese-maker during a factory visit. Civitello has since purchased over 30 pairs for himself and his employees. He has them in multiple colors to match his factory’s color-coding system, which helps him “keep track of good manufacturing practices.” On any given day, Civitello says, he will change his shoes up to 20 times to avoid cross-contaminating the cheeses in different rooms of his factory. And he likes that the clogs are easy to hose down at the end of the week. “I have put these shoes through some heavy-duty chemicals and haven’t seen any discoloration or change to the rubber. It’s impressive stuff. I still have the first pair I bought in the fall of 2013.”
Last summer, Sara Gates, owner of Kingsland Printing in Greenpoint, saw her first pair of Calzuros on a woman on the boardwalk in the Rockaways, where she lives. Shortly after, she spread the good word among her Rockaways beach crew, which includes Flannery Cronin, owner of Friend of All Glass; Abra Boero, owner of Off Season, and Jordan Woolf, who owns the boardwalk surf-and-turf stand High 97 — all of whom quickly purchased a pair.
“They really are the perfect beach shoes,” says Gates. “They’re waterproof and breathable.” But not until she wore them to her screen-printing studio in Greenpoint did she realize their full potential. “Then my studio manager got a pair,” she says. “You can stand in them all day — they’re insanely comfortable.” Another selling point, she adds, is that they’re not Crocs, which she says lack support and just aren’t attractive. “I generally feel like this type of shoe is just too hideous for me, but for some reason, these are very aesthetically pleasing. They’re the perfect height with the perfect amount of arch.”
When we spoke with Gates’s friend Cronin, she told us that “by the end of last summer, everyone at Rippers and on the boardwalk had these shoes,” and “now in Greenpoint, everyone is walking around in their Calzuros.” According to Cronin, Gates was “sort of like patient zero” at the center of the Calzuros craze. Cronin has the clogs in dark metallic blue and purchased them for her employees because their jobs making stained glass are so physically demanding. For Cronin, who has suffered from back and foot pain for what she describes as a lifetime, getting a pair of Calzuros was life changing. “Everything we do involves looking down or hunching over,” she says. “We have pads on the floor and stuff to help, but nothing made that much of a difference until we got these shoes.”
But it’s not all hip cheese-makers and Brooklyn glass artists: The original fans, the medical community, are still onboard. Michael Yuan, an oral and facial surgeon in Tampa, Florida, is enthusiastic about his pair. Like Cronin, Yuan found out about Calzuros by word of mouth. He’d tried both Danskos and Crocs but then saw Calzuros on a few colleagues who swore by them. Yuan says Danskos are great for a specific fit, and Crocs are very comfortable but aren’t that supportive. Calzuros, with their acupressure footbeds, are “the best of both worlds” — he loves operating in them and can stand in them “for hours on end.”
A little style and sizing info: You can choose between Calzuros with upper ventilation (a series of pin-size holes across the top of the clogs) or without, something to consider for rainy days or splashy factory settings. The clogs can come with straps, which you order separately for $8. And everyone we spoke to says they run a little big. We can vouch for this; sizing down a half-size is the sweet spot. This made our pair comfortable for gardening but still left a little room to wear with a pair of socks this fall, a look that’s also perfectly fine for sitting at desks.