Like many others living with lower limb lymphedema, I struggle when it comes to footwear. Most of my swelling is in my right foot and ankle, so finding a shoe that comfortably fits is a challenge. And finding a shoe that’s stylish, too? Forget it.
I’m always on the lookout for lymphie-friendly footwear, so when my friends at Pandere reached out to me asking if I’d be interested in trying their latest style on for size, I was ecstatic.
For those unfamiliar with them, Pandere is a woman-owned company based in Alaska whose mission is to make functional, fashionable shoes for “unique feet.” After much prototyping and measurements and feedback, they developed their first style — the Barista — and have gone on to release a couple more styles since.
When the company launched, I supported their crowdfunding campaign and purchased the Barista. It’s an incredibly comfy sneaker-type style that’s become my go-to shoe for my walk-heavy commute or weekend errands. (You can watch a video of me unboxing the Barista over on Facebook.)
I was so impressed by Pandere’s first shoe that getting the opportunity to try their latest — the Rodeo — was a total honor.
Like its predecessors, the Rodeo is adjustable: using the toggles at the top and back of the shoe, the wearer can expand the Rodeo three width sizes, and its patented design in the toe-box, midfoot, and ankle allow for a comfortable fit no matter your volume of swelling.
The anti-slip bottoms are made from recycled rubber, and inside the shoe is a memory foam insole with arch support and heel cushion. The insole is removable, so you can wear a custom orthotic or swap out for another insole with ease.
Right off the bat, I noticed how features of the Rodeo were improvements upon the previous styles; clearly the company has been listening to feedback and evolving their product.
When comparing my two pairs of Pandere shoes, the biggest difference seems to be the toggles. On the Barista, the toggle “tab” sort of stuck out straight. It wasn’t a huge deal — I could tuck it beneath the elastic, as seen in the photos below — but it was a little annoying at times.
On the Rodeo, however, they’ve refined the elastics so the toggles are easier to manage. You can see the difference here (the Barista is the shorter style).
This is a welcome improvement as the toggles are my favorite aspect of the Pandere shoes. I love that I can adjust the fit along with my swelling as it changes throughout the day, and the soft neoprene has enough stretchy give that I don’t get that tight, constricted feeling I often experience with standard shoes.
My “good” foot sometimes fluctuates in size too, so it’s great to be able to adjust the fit of both shoes as needed.
The shoes themselves are really striking in their appearance; I love their unique, spunky look. Their appeal goes beyond just lymphies, too, as I frequently get compliments from non-lymphie folks when I wear them out.
A few days after they arrived in the mail, I decided to put the shoes to the ultimate test: I wore them to a punk show.
I spent five hours jumping, dancing, and stomping, with a few intervals of sitting here and there. When I got home, my feet were tired from the activity — but they didn’t hurt. The shoes proved comfy and supportive throughout the night. A rocking success!
My bottom line? Whether you’re heading to the market or the mosh pit, these shoes will get you there.
Pandere shoes are a must-have for those with lower limb lymphedema as they’re designed with lymphies in mind — literally. Co-founder Laura Oden has lymphedema herself, so she understands firsthand the need for an adaptable shoe that doesn’t sacrifice style. Her insider perspective is evident in the design, with details that are both thoughtful and intentional.
The company advocates for lymphedema patients in other ways, too: for every pair of shoes sold, Pandere donates $1 to the Lymphatic Education & Research Network.
But it’s not just lymphies who can benefit from a pair of these special kicks. Pandere shoes are ideal for anyone with “unique feet,” and their adaptable fit makes them a great option for people with diabetes, edema, plantar fasciitis, or swollen feet during pregnancy.
Interested in a pair of Pandere shoes? You can purchase them directly from Pandere’s online store. At the time of this writing, the shoes retail between $159 (the Barista and Neo) and $179 (the Bolero); the Rodeo is $169. You can also keep up with the latest from Pandere via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Review on The Lymphie Life blog can be found here.