OluKai Lala Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
Looking for a sandal that will feel great on your feet, easily last you for years, and also turn some heads? Our Top Pick for Stylish Adventures, the Lala, has you covered on all fronts. While it has a very narrow fit and is also quite expensive, on the right foot and the right person, this is an incredibly impressive shoe.
The molded polyurethane footbed of the Lala is wrapped in full-grain leather, giving it a slick and smooth finish that feels nice underfoot. The wide, supple straps are also full-grain leather with a microfiber lining and, while slightly stiff at first, they soften and break in quickly.
From the moment you slip this sandal on, you can't help but notice how well constructed it is. The gracefully contoured footbed and wide straps feel both pleasant and secure, and the hand-sewn leather toe post is comfortable and easy to get used to. Unfortunately, this shoe won't be super appealing to many wide-footed fashionistas, as it runs very narrow. The footbed also runs quite small, so if you have a half size foot, be sure to size up. Oddly enough this OluKai is sized quite differently than the other ones we tested which run larger.
Support & Stability
The firm molded footbed, and wide straps on the Lala combine to produce a very stable and supportive shoe. While the footbed material can be a bit slick at times, and the narrowness of the design isn't ideal for anyone with wide feet, overall this to be a very well-conceived sandal.
This flip flop has one of the more dense and firm footbeds, an element that adds to its stability. However it's super narrow, and the edges don't curve upward very much, so there is the possibility that longer toes or wider feet will spill off the sides. Unless you have very narrow feet, this is a good one to try on in person before purchasing.
OluKai knows how to construct a durable shoe and this one is no exception. Despite putting this beautiful sandal through mud pits and cold rivers, it still looked great at the end of our testing period. The shiny footbed got a bit scuffed up by the toes, and the leather straps darkened and softened after being wet, but that only made them feel softer and more broken in.
The Lala is a highly durable shoe that can handle a lot of use and should easily last you for years. However, it is expensive enough to warrant a bit of extra care, being made from materials that require some additional attention to keep nice for the long haul. While some abuse short term for our testing purposes barely put a dent in these sandals, if you continued to use them in this manner, they would no doubt deteriorate. Our scores for this metric reflect the level of durability we feel this sandal has if you take proper care of it. If you want something you can use and abuse without a care in the world, check out one of the more traditional rubber flips in our review like the Chaco Flip EcoTread.
We were initially nervous about putting a shoe as nice as the Lala into a river and under a hose. But, as with every other one of our rating metrics, this sandal was up for the challenge. The smooth, molded footbed repels and wicks away water super effectively, drying after a full soaking in just four minutes. The leather straps, despite their width and thickness, only took about 25 minutes to completely dry. When walking around with a wet footbed, we noticed that it was initially very slick — our foot slipped off the side once — but within only about 20 seconds the water was wicked away and we were back to being secure.
We figured that rubber models with webbing straps would have much better dry times than the Lala, but this wasn't the case. The footbeds all dried in roughly the same amount of time, but the Lala's straps took about 5-7 minutes less time to dry than many of its competitors.
Once again the Lala was poised to surprise us. It's easy to look at this sandal and write it off as just a pretty urban shoe, but don't be fooled — this sandal can hang with the big kids. While the footbed on the Lala is a bit slick, the bottom sole feels quite secure, with traction pods that provide great sticking power.
It is the Lala's impressive performance in more "outdoorsy" metrics like this one that inspired us to award it a Top Pick for Stylish Adventures. It earned this title because we were able to do it all: stick on rough terrain, walk in water, and look highly stylish all at the same time. Granted, this shoe is fancy and expensive enough that it's probably not the one to buy if you need a flip flop solely for outdoor adventures. But what's nice about the Lala is that you can feel confident that, wherever your day takes you, you'll be comfortable and secure the whole time.
And this is where the Lala takes the prize, flying past all the other contenders. We polled close to 20 women and had them rate our tested flips, and this sandal was far and away the favorite.
A sleek design and unique straps elevate this shoe above all the others. It looks better and fits better on narrower feet, so that's something to keep in mind, but for narrow-footed divas, this is a clear winner.
While the Lala performed well in even our most rigorous outdoor tests, we still feel it's a better shoe for urban activities. It's such a nice sandal, and quite expensive, so we don't see the point in buying it to beat it up purposely. While it can handle water, dirt, and mud, it's best suited for classy city life where you want the assurance that you'll be comfortable for hours, secure on slippery sidewalks, and dry quickly if you end up in a sudden summer thunderstorm.
The Lala is the most expensive sandal in our review, so you'd better really love it to buy it. We do think it's worth the price, as it's an exquisitely made shoe that will likely last you for many years, but if you don't think you'll like it after more than a season or two than you should perhaps consider something more affordable.
We love this sandal and find it impressive on almost every level. The durable and well-constructed footbed has a comfortable contour, and the leather straps and hand-sewn toe post feel delightful after just a bit of breaking in. The Lala provides good traction, great water resistance, and is the most stylish model of all we tested. Unfortunately, this shoe does run quite small and narrow, so if you have wide feet, it may not be a good match. It's also expensive, so unless you super love it — which is pretty darn easy to do — then you may want to look to a bit more cost-effective model.
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