If you love sneakers and keep up with sneaker trends then chances are you’ve heard of the all-new Tread by Everlane and Greats Royale Knit by now.
I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek of both the Tread by Everlane Trainers and Greats Royale Knit Sneaker. And I thought it would be helpful to compare the two in an in-depth review and sustainable sneaker battle.
Now let’s get ready to rumble, starting with a quick background on each brand.
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Brooklyn based Greats was founded in 2014. They’re headquartered in Williamsburg, just a few blocks away from where they started. Their mantra is “[in order to] Be One of the GREATS one must strive every day to be ‘better than’.”
As of now, they offer an eclectic line of premium sneakers for fair prices. Perhaps the most popular in their lineup is The Royale which boasts a minimalist silhouette in several versatile colorways from white to brown and grey to black.
They recently launched a new line of the Royale sneaker called the Royale Knit on May 8th, 2019. The Royale Knit is their first step into the world of sustainable fashion.
San Francisco based Everlane is an ethical fashion brand that offers high quality basics with a focus on what they call “Radical Transparency.” They’re headquartered in San Fran and have another location in New York City.
Founded in 2010 as an online retailer, Everlane believes that their customers have a right to know how much their clothes cost to make. And so they openly reveal the true cost behind all of their products including the materials, labor and transportation.
Everlane is known for their ethical practices and so it was no surprise when they launched Tread by Everlane on April 25th, 2019. The Tread Trainer is their first ever sustainable sneaker. To learn more about the company check out this detailed Everlane review & try-on haul.
GREATS ROYALE KNIT VS TREAD BY EVERLANE REVIEW
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Now that we know a little bit about the brands, let’s dive into this sustainable sneaker battle and review starting with the sneakers’ design aesthetic.
Greats Royale Knit Design Aesthetic
The Royale Knit of course was designed in Brooklyn and made in Italy. It features a nearly identical minimalist silhouette to the original Greats Royale trainer. The major difference being the Enviroknit yarn upper instead of full-grain leather.
It’s a low top sneaker with a design aesthetic of a classic trainer. The pair featured in this sneaker battle is the navy/white colorway. It’s made of an all-navy knit upper with a white accent detail along the heel of the shoe.
Additionally, on the side of the shoe there’s a contrasting knitted rectangular patch that’s a feature of every Greats sneaker. Furthermore, the white vulcanized rubber sole provides a stark contrast against the blue knit upper. And finally, the back of the rubber sole is highlighted with the GREATS logotype face.
You can’t go wrong with the classic low-top trainer (see Nike Killshot 2) aesthetic and Greats nails it with the Royale Knit.
Tread by Everlane Design Aesthetic
The Everlane Tread Trainer comes from the Vietnam factory in Thai Binh. Its silhouette is similar to that of a classic running or tennis shoe, in fact it reminds me of the Reebok Classics with a slightly chunkier sole.
It’s a low top unisex style sneaker, but not as low as the Royale Knit. The pair featured in this editorial is the all navy colorway. It’s made with a full-grain leather upper from a gold-certified tannery in Vietnam. And the sole is a blend of natural and recycled rubber.
The Tread Sneaker’s design is clean and minimal for what it is. And it has contrast paneling details of blue leather and suede across the upper and a not-so-chunky studded, blue rubber sole. Finally, there’s a light grey contrasting leather on the upper-inner heel and the Tread by Everlane logo etched on the back.
The Tread Trainer may be less versatile than the Royale Knit sneaker, but it’s still a modern take on the dad trainer/chunky style sneaker that makes it much more approachable, even though some say it looks ugly.
Design Aesthetic Winner: Greats (in my opinion)
When it comes to aesthetic, it comes down to personal preference. Whether you’re into the classic low top trainer or the classic running sneaker silhouette, that will ultimately determine which wins out here. For me, if I had to choose one style, I’d go with the Royale Knit.
Now that we’ve covered the design aesthetic, let’s talk colorways.
Tread by Everlane Colorways
Initially, Everlane launched the Tread Trainer with 7 colors. Then about 2 months later dropped 3 new colorways just in time for the summer season (lavender, sand, and slate).
Greats Royale Knit Colorways
The Royale Knit boasts six versatile colorways, each with an opposite accent color along the back of the heel.
- Navy White
- White Navy
- Grey White
- White Grey
- Black White
- White Black
Colorways Winner: Everlane
Everlane takes the cake here with 4 additional colorways on top of Greats 6. Both cover all of the basic neutrals, while Everlane recently added a few more fun colorways.
Moving on from colorways, let’s get into the materials with which the sneakers are made.
Greats Royale Knit Materials
The Royale Knit is made completely of yarn spun from recycled plastic. In fact, 7 bottles go into each pair of Royal Knit uppers. And a whopping 75,000 bottles were removed from the ocean from their initial launch. On top of the sneaker being made of recycled materials, the packaging is also 100% recyclable.
Tread by Everlane Materials
Everlane takes it to the next level with the Tread Trainer’s materials. It starts with a full-grain leather upper produced at a gold-certified tannery where the use of virgin plastic is cut by 54%.
Next, the sole is made almost entirely with recycled and natural rubber, 94.2% to be exact. Additionally, the shoe laces and linings and removable insole/shoe insert are also made of recycled plastic bottles. Everlane says that 9.5 bottles make up every pair of Tread Trainers. And finally, Everlane’s packaging, just like Greats is also made with recyclable materials.
Materials Winner: Tie (w/ a slight nod towards Everlane)
Though both the Royale Knit and Everlane Tread sneakers are made with with recycled plastic bottles, Tread takes things further by including the laces, insole and linings which make for a more sustainable sneaker.
Now that we know what materials the shoes are made with, let’s get into perhaps the most important aspect and that’s how they feel on your feet.
How Comfortable are Greats Royale Knit?
First off, the Greats Royale Knit is made with Enviroknit yarn making them ultra-breathable, a feature that you’d want in a summer shoe.
The Greats Royale Knit are ultra-comfortable right out of the box. There’s virtually no break-in period due to the flexible knit upper. The shoes are easy to slide on, while the removable shoe insert/insole provides extra cushion and comfort. Between the insole and outsole, the midsole is quite hard, almost plastic-like under the fabric.
Ultimately, I have no complaints about how these shoes wear and fit. They do run a little large and so it may be a good idea to size up a half size.
How Comfortable is the Tread Sneaker?
I can say right off the bat that the Tread Sneaker takes a little while to break in mostly due to how tight they fit on my feet. Those with wider feet might struggle with these shoes.
I typically wear standard D width shoes and my feet were hurting the first couple of wears, it just felt too tight. They’ve loosened up overtime, but still aren’t as comfortable as my Greats. Just like the Royale Knit, they come with a removable insole for added cushion and comfort. The Tread Trainer’s shoe insert is heavier and feels more substantial than the Greats insole. And Everlane’s Tread midsole feels softer than the Royale Knit’s.
Comfort Winner: Greats
The tightness of the Everlane sneakers caused some pain initially, but has gotten better with time. But when it comes down to it, the breathable knit upper of the Greats Royale Knit help to make for a comfortable wearing experience.
Quick note: If you’re enjoying this sneaker battle featuring the Greats Royale Knit and Tread by Everlane Trainers, then you’ll probably find my other writing on all things men’s style useful. Each week, I share updates, style tips and other things not shared on the blog through my free email newsletter.
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DURABILITY & QUALITY
We’ve covered comfort, now let’s talk about the durability and quality of the shoes.
How Greats Royal Knit Hold Up
You would think that the knit upper would make for a less durable shoe, but that’s not the case. The Royale Knit’s upper is quite strong and substantial feeling for a knitted fabric. It definitely feels like it can withstand wear and tear for the long haul.
I even played basketball in the rain wearing the Royale Knit and they actually did a good job. Comfortable and durable. My socks were a bit stained with blue afterwards though.
More on the knit upper. It isn’t as malleable as you would think. There’s a bit of structure especially on the heel. You can’t fold the shoe up due to the rubber outsole, but it is easier to pack than the Tread Trainer. Quality control (QC) is good. Overall, it’s a well-built Italian made sneaker.
It’s worth nothing that Greats no longer makes their sneakers with margom outsoles and so the sole quality isn’t as good as it used to be. I can see the soles already beginning to wear down and I don’t drag my feet.
How Everlane Tread Trainers Hold Up
Everlane’s core offering is sustainable, minimal basics. It’s then no surprise that Tread by Everlane is also sustainable, minimal and well crafted.
The Everlane Tread Sneaker’s craftsmanship is tight. First, the sneaker feels solid and durable to hold up for the long haul. I can already tell the sole is going to last a long time. Secondly, the leather seems to be high quality and isn’t creasing in an ugly manner. There’s no loose stitching or QC issues either.
Finally, based on the two months I’ve been wearing the sneakers, I’d say they’re built to last. The soles are solid and show no signs of stripping or falling apart which is common for some sneakers. But only time will tell.
Durability & Quality Winner: Everlane (slightly)
Based on what I’ve experienced, Everlane gets the slight nod. It’s a close one, but I’ve got the feeling that the Tread Sneaker is going to have more longevity. We’ll have to revisit this in a year to find out if I was right.
STYLING THE SNEAKERS
For the summer, I like the sockless look. No show socks are a must. I wouldn’t recommend actually going sockless in either of these shoes. If you did, then the Royale Knit is better suited for that, but even still I’d wear no-show socks at a minimum.
The summer look here works well for both pairs of sneakers. I’ve styled both the Tread Trainer and Royale Knit with navy cotton shorts and a micro-patterned, short sleeve button down shirt. It’s a relatively safe look that any guy can pull off.
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The shorts have a 9″ inseam, but I’ve rolled them up twice and so they fit more like 7″ which is my ideal length, plus it gives the leg opening a bit of a taper, wrapping nicely around my thighs without being too tight.
I threw on a pair of matte brown sunglasses, a bold watch with the nato strap and two small beaded bracelets to finish off this simple summer get up.
Quick Note: You might like this long term review of Ace Marks Duke Sneaker.
PRICE & SIZING
Tread by Everlane Price: $98
Everlane is known for their sustainable, quality basics for affordable prices. As always, they boast transparent pricing and so they disclose exactly how much it costs to make the Tread Trainer.
With a true cost of under $37, they’re able to price the Tread Trainer at under $100, well under other shoe brands with similar build and quality.
- Materials: $22.04
- Hardware: $0.60
- Labor: $9.15
- Duties: $3.18
- Transport: $1.50
True Cost: $36.47
Greats Royale Knit Price: $119
Greats comes in at a competitive $119 which is a bit more than Everlane and well under the price of their leather sneakers at $179.
Price Winner: Everlane
Despite being made with leather, Everlane is able to offer a sub $100 price point for the Tread sneaker and $21 less than the price of the Royale Knit.
Tread by Everlane Shoe Sizing
The Tread Trainer runs true to size according to their website, however I ordered my normal shoe size, 8 and it’s pretty tight. But I think once they’re fully broken in, that they will fit just fine. It’s worth mentioning that they are more narrow than the Royale Knit and if you have wider feet you may need to order a half size up.
Royale Knit Shoe Sizing
The Royale Knit runs about a half size large and so it’s recommended to size down a half size. If you have wider feet, you’re safe ordering your normal size. I’m normally a size 8, however it doesn’t seem Greats carries 7.5 in the Royale Knit and so 8 is what I got. It’s a little bit loose with thin no-show socks, especially after breaking them in, however they fit nicely with mid-weight or thicker socks.
PROS & CONS
Greats Royale Knit Pros
- Italian made with a breathable knit upper
- Clean and classic design aesthetic
- Comfortable for wearing all day long
- Has all of the neutral colorways you’d want in a sneaker
- Decent price point of $119
Greats Royale Knit Cons
- Sole is no longer made with margom rubber
- Knitted upper may not be as durable as leather in the long run
- No wide option
Tread by Everlane Pros
- High quality sneaker made with full-grain leather in a gold-certified tannery
- Clean and minimal design aesthetic
- Many versatile colorways to choose from
- True to the Everlane mission, it’s a super sustainable sneaker
- Affordable price point under $100
Tread by Everlane Cons
- Not as comfortable as I had hoped, but that may change with time
- The style may not appeal to some
- Doesn’t have wide option
WHO MAKES THE BETTER SHOE?
Finally, we’ve reached the conclusion of this sneaker battle. It was a back and forth duel with both brands winning in the various categories. Greats won for design aesthetic and comfort while Everlane won for colorways, durability and price.
Ultimately, the winner comes down to which style of shoe you prefer. The price difference isn’t that much of a factor and the quality of both are similar. Personally, I feel that both Greats and Everlane have done well with their first sustainable sneakers and look forward to what they both come out with next.
Both Greats and Everlane have admirable missions worth getting onboard with. For Greats, they’re on a mission to help remove the world’s ocean plastics and end single-use plastics. And for Everlane, it’s to make the world’s lowest-impact sneakers, make them last and make them carbon neutral.
In the end, both Greats and Everlane are hoping to do this by creating a more sustainable sneaker. It’s more than just a fashion trend and I commend both brands for tackling this area and paving the way for the future of sustainable fashion.
If you enjoyed this sneaker battle then you might like this comparison between Beckett Simonon vs Allen Edmonds. And for even more shoe related content, check out this round-up of essential men’s shoes.
Which brand (Greats or Everlane) wins this sneaker battle in your opinion?
Let’s continue the discussion over in the Gentlemen Within Private Facebook Community.
Looking forward to seeing you in there.
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