Message, the new shoe brand that specializes in cork footbed slides, makes the bold claim its best-selling sandals are like “a hug you can wear.” In true commerce editor fashion, I replied to absolutely no one: “We’ll see about that,” and asked the brand if I could test them out for a couple of months. It didn’t take long to realize these would be the sandals I’d wear all summer long.
Before I dive into my experience with Message’s hero sandal, the Mullen Slide ($160), here’s a little info dump about the sparkly new sandal brand that’s very likely going to take over our social feeds and our closets.
Message launched with two slide styles in April of this year: The Mullen and The Shaw, both designed with a sweat-, odor-, and water-resistant cork footbed that’s not only sustainable (the brand sources a cork that comes from Portugal using—rather, reusing —wine corks), but also ultra comfortable and supportive.
The unisex sandals are made from a proprietary Hugflex strap that keep feet in place while simultaneously offering stretch—basically, they’re slides you can walk long distances in without flying off every two seconds (or ever, really—and I confirmed that). At $160 a pop, they’re definitely a more elevated slide—but the quality and comfort are palpable. These are designed to be your go-to sandals for a long, long time.
My honest review of the Message Mullen slides
I started wearing the Mullen slides back in April when they first launched. The second I slipped into my pair, I knew these were special. Requiring zero break-in, the cork footbed felt cushioned and sturdy, giving me just the right amount of arch support for my fallen arches. The Hugflex strap is made of a move-with-you stretch material that truly did hug my feet as I walked. But wearing them around the house and to the grocery store felt like an easy test—how would they hold up on vacation?
I almost solely wore them on a week-long vacation to Mexico, putting all my trust in their design to support me in my travels. I wore them on the plane, the beach, the pool, and various walking trips to restaurants and shops (we didn’t have a car). Not only did my feet stay comfortable the entire time, but they held up even after getting wet, sandy, and sweaty in 100-degree heat (with 100-percent humidity, no less).
There’s nothing complicated about the Mullen slides, which I love. They’re versatile enough to pair with some jeans or shorts, yet you can easily throw them on if you’re wearing a dress or skirt to accomplish that effortless, coastal “put-togetherness” I usually only associate with people who can afford to vacation in the Hamptons and have the confidence to eat meals in white button-up shirts. We can probably call it “quiet luxury” if you want—they are under-the-radar luxe and certainly have the price tag to match.
And yes, Message slides get two thumbs up from podiatrists
The cherry on top is that these slides are approved by podiatrists, who love their foot-friendly features. Suzanne Fuchs, DPM a foot and ankle physician and surgeon in Jupiter, Florida, tells W+G that she likes them because they provide arch support, cushioning, a wide toe box, and they’re lightweight and flexible.
“These sandals are designed with built-in arch support, which helps to maintain the natural alignment of the foot. This feature is particular beneficial for individuals with flat feet or fallen arches,” Dr. Fuchs says. (No wonder I love them so much—my fallen arches are in sandal heaven.)
Dr. Fuchs also loves the cushioning the sandals are known for, saying the footbed “helps to absorb shock and reduce pressure on the joints, making them comfortable to wear for extended periods.” She adds, “Compared to other sandals, the Message sandals stand out due to their focus on foot health and comfort.”
Another podiatrist, Mark J. Mendeszoon, DPM, whose practice is based in Ohio, tells W+G that the “thought process, and the ergonomically design and materials will make these one of the better sandals on the market,” explaining, “The foot bed seems to be a well-crafted and molded cork material, which is a great material for support (and is used a great deal and custom orthotic devices).”
Message currently offers two styles: the Mullen (the ones I tested) and the Shaw Slide ($160). The only difference between the two is that the Shaw has a bit of a longer strap, so it covers more of your foot (plus it has different color options).
The bottom line? If you’re looking for a slide that’s actually supportive, will last you for many, many adventure-filled summers, and give your wardrobe a cool, casual edge, then this sandal will be the best thing you invest in all season long.