Most Resilient, Comfortable, Long-lived Kung Fu Shoes?
January 27, 2014 2:47 PM   Subscribe

After repeated shoe drama, I realized the shoes that have been best for my feet and the rest of my body with the fewest re-supply issues have been Kung Fu shoes and their sisters, the "Chinese Maryjane". Now I want to find the very best ones for my needs, and am eagerly hoping someone here has the answer for me.

• Interior completely lined in cotton
• Flexible but sturdy rubber sole (doesn't need to be orange-red-brown - in fact, I kind of like the "stickier" yellow/clear and the bendier/thicker white)
• Sturdy join between upper and sole (preferably stitched AND glued)
• Resilient canvas upper (but velvet could be entertained, too, if such a thing exists)
• No laces
• Must have black as default, but other colours could be nice after I get the basics sorted.
• If you know for a fact that a particular maker is better for wide, short, flat feet with a high instep, that is the one I am most interested in!
• If not available at a brick & mortar in Austin, TX, must be orderable online with trustworthy shipping.

I don't care which style of opening the upper has - either the tabbed or slit are fine with me.

Bonus: if they also do maryjane style and they are similar quality or if they only do maryjanes but to these specifications, that is also a useful answer.

Thank you so much, AskMe!
posted by batmonkey to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (10 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
OH, DANGIT! Left out one of the "needs": the cushier the inside, the happier I will be.
posted by batmonkey at 2:49 PM on January 27, 2014

I might be offering up the super obvious, but have you looked at Tom's? I think I even saw they have a mary jane ...
posted by thinkpiece at 4:03 PM on January 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

When I was practicing kung fu, Feiyue shoes were pretty much the gold standard. If you want them for fashion shoes, thinkpiece has it right and you want Tom's. If you're working in martial arts, Feiyues are what you're after.
posted by workerant at 4:07 PM on January 27, 2014

I have always used Feiyue. Like workerant says... it's the gold standard.
The only thing I don't like about them is that you basically have to air them out for 3 days because right out of the box they smell like an accident in a factory for toxic chemicals. I go through a pair about every 6 months so I've been buying the next pair ahead of time so I can run them through the washer a few times when I do laundry and let them sit outside for drying and out-gassing.

They do have profiles and I keep forgetting that a new pair will resist turning and sliding compared to an old pair which I have worked down to a smooth polish. Always good for a few amusing moments...
posted by Hairy Lobster at 4:29 PM on January 27, 2014

Forgot to add... I can't speak to longevity. I'm not sure there even exists any type of shoe that'll survive more than a year's worth of the sort of training we do out and about with rocks, trees and dirt :)
The canvas bits of Feiyue shoes seem reasonably tough but I still manage to work my way through that layer over the course of less than a year. In a more conventional indoor setting I can see them last for a while but I don't know for sure.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 4:36 PM on January 27, 2014

I definitely do not want "fashion" shoes. I'll be wearing them for for everyday activities as well as random elective movement. I have other shoes for dressing up, if necessary.

Tom's don't meet most of the comfort requirements for me. Kung Fu shoes / Chinese maryjanes are truly what I am after. I totally accept and expect that replacing them a bit more frequently than other shoes is going to be part of the deal.

Admittedly, it will be useful to already have this part settled when I start Ba Gua Zhang later this year.
posted by batmonkey at 4:48 PM on January 27, 2014

What would be second-best to Feiyue? Because I absolutely don't want laces.
posted by batmonkey at 4:51 PM on January 27, 2014

In my opinion, Warrior (回力) would be second best to Feiyue. I probably went through a dozen pairs of each when I lived in Shanghai -- where they cost anywhere from US$1.5 to $5 depending on the style. I checked ebay and googled some, but unfortunately I couldn't find anyone selling them in the US. The shoes I'm thinking of are very similar to Keds, though -- have you tried their slip-ons?
posted by bradf at 7:23 PM on January 27, 2014

I didn't know Keds had such a similar style to Kung Fu shoes - I've only known of their lace-ups and faux-ballet flats. Quite pricey compared to Kung Fu shoes. Would they last significantly longer? Anyone know how cushy the inside is and how much give there is for wide feet?

I really hoped there was just an easy, "Oh, yeah, this online shop has one that meets your bare minimum, for sure!" Too optimistic/picky, it seems.
posted by batmonkey at 3:05 PM on January 28, 2014

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