Are European Kids’ Shoes Better Than American Shoes? – Find Out The 2 Reasons Why They Are Not!

There is one common question that I get asked at the children’s shoe store where I work: Are European kids’ shoes better than American shoes? I believe there is a misconception about parents assuming that most European kids’ shoe brands provide better support or fit better than their American counterparts. I have fitted certain American kids’ shoes that provide excellent support. American shoes also tend to provide better cushion than European shoes.

➡️ When it comes to the materials that the shoes are made of, European shoes tend to be a step ahead as most of them are made from high-quality leather. Certain American shoe companies do make some of their children’s shoes out of leather, but just a couple of their styles. This doesn’t mean that European kids’ shoes are better than American shoes.

➡️ When it comes to the overall fit of the shoes, I believe that American shoes are a step ahead, as in addition to being available in different widths — wide (W) and extra wide (XW) — the shoes also provide extra depth, a key feature to accommodate the shape of children with high insteps.

I am always emphasizing to parents how the most important part of any child’s outfit is their shoes. If you fit your child’s shoes too short, too long, too narrow, or too wide, you will end up creating several foot issues to your child’s feet that range from blisters, calluses, and corns, to foot, leg, and back pain.

Most European kids’ shoes are only capable of fitting children with narrow or medium feet only. I have found that most toddlers and older children tend to have wide or extra wide feet. I want all parents to remember one thing: It doesn’t matter how many features a particular shoe provides or the quality of the materials the shoes are made of, if the shoes are not fitted properly, your child will end up developing foot issues.

Reasons Why European Kids’ Shoes Are Not Better Than American Shoes

1️⃣ European shoes are not available in wide or extra wide widths

I have spoken with several parents who told me how European shoes are better because in Europe shoes are not seen as “fashion items”, but rather as “health products”. I strongly disagree with this statement, because I have noticed how most European children’s shoes are not even available in different widths. This is a huge disadvantage, as I have fitted thousands of children’s feet, from their first steps to their teenage years, and I can tell you that kids’ feet come in all different shapes and sizes.

Children can have narrow, medium, wide, or extra wide feet, and it’s important for shoes to be available in those widths to fit the shape of the child’s feet, no matter how narrow or wide they might be.

Providing children with shoes that are too narrow for their feet can lead to foot issues such as blisters, calluses, and corns, as the toes might rub against each other or the side of the shoes. On the other hand, providing children with shoes that are too wide allows the child’s feet to move too much inside the shoes, and that constant friction between the feet and the shoes can lead to foot issues as well.

In addition, certain children who have high insteps require a wider and deeper shoe. Do you know what the instep of the foot is? The instep is the top part of the foot, take a look at the image below for clarification. When children have high insteps, there is a lot of extra foot volume that needs to be fitted inside the shoes:

2️⃣ Most European shoes are not capable of accommodating orthotics.

There are a lot of children who are dealing with foot conditions such as flat feet, overpronation, rolled ankles, or low muscle tone — just to name a few examples.

These children require shoes that provide better support, and a great number of them require an orthotic to be fitted inside the shoes for extra support. If the shoes are not available in different widths or provide extra depth they won’t be able to accommodate an orthotic. This is another huge disadvantage of European kids’ shoes.

I have fitted several American made kids’ shoes that are capable of accommodating orthotics. One of the most popular shoe brands for children who wear orthotics is New Balance.

Let’s compare the best European and American kids’ shoe brands.

European VS American Kids’ Shoe Brands – Which Are Better?

The Best European Kids’ Shoe Brands

Some of the most popular European shoe brands that I have fitted before and that you might be already familiar with are:

1️⃣ Naturino

2️⃣ Primigi

3️⃣ Geox

You can probably agree with me that these 3 shoe companies are among the most popular ones among children.

All of these 3 shoe companies manufacture some of the best quality footwear I have fitted before for children. However, do you want to know what these 3 shoe companies have in common? None of these 3 shoe companies make children’s shoes in different widths. If your child has a medium width foot you probably have nothing to worry about, but what about all of those children who have wide or extra wide feet?

In my experience, there is a large number of children who have wide or extra wide feet, especially when they are between 1 and 3 years old.

While these 3 shoe companies make some of the most supportive, durable, and lightweight shoes for children they fail to address those children with wide and extra wide feet. From a fitting perspective, this is just unacceptable.

There are also a lot of children who require orthotics to be fitted inside their shoes, and none of these 3 shoe companies make shoes that are capable of accommodating an orthotic.

To summarize, if your child has wide or extra wide feet or a foot condition that he/she is dealing with, you won’t be able to provide them with any of the shoe brands mentioned above.

The Best American Kids’ Shoe Brands

Some of the most popular American shoe companies that I have fitted before are:

1️⃣ Stride Rite

2️⃣ New Balance

3️⃣ Saucony

I believe that all 3 of these shoe brands provide the same type of quality when it comes to shoes, but the advantage is that they offer shoes in different widths such as medium (M), wide (W), and extra wide (XW).

All of these shoe brands provide shoes that are supportive, but lightweight and flexible at the same time. The good news is that you will be able to fit an orthotic in case your child needs extra support inside the shoes.

It’s hard to generalize and compare shoe companies because I believe that each shoe style is a little different, even among the same shoe brand.

For example, if a child has a narrow to a medium width foot, the 3 European shoe companies that I mentioned previously will fit the shape of  the child’s feet perfectly. On the other hand, if a child has wide or extra wide feet with a high instep, the 3 American shoe companies that I mentioned above will be better for his/her feet.

Now that you know the difference between these shoe brands, let me provide you with a selection of the best European and Americas shoes that I have fitted before.

Keep in mind that I only write reviews of shoes that I have fitted before, otherwise I wouldn’t know how well-made they are, the amount of support that they provide, and how they fit. Disclosure: Some links in this post may be affiliate links and we may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) when you click our links and make purchases. 

The Best European Shoes for Kids

Below you can find a selection of the best European kids’ shoes that I have fitted before.

If you are looking for any other type of European kids’ shoe styles such as dress shoes, winter boots, or summer shoes, please let me know in the comments section below and I will help you find them.

American Made Shoes for Children

I created a different resource that describes the kids’ shoes made in the United States.

Are Any Other Shoe Choices Available?

If none of these shoes are available in your child’s shoe size or if you need the shoes to be made of a specific color don’t hesitate to email me at:

[email protected]

Are You 100% Sure of Your Child’s Foot Size? – Let’s Find Out!

I always recommend parents take their children to their local children’s shoe store that they trust. The issue is that most fitting shoe stores have been closing down and parents need to end up buying their kids’ shoes online. There is nothing wrong with this, but you must know your child’s exact foot size to know what size to order.

I created a resource that showcases the best-fitting children’s shoe stores by state.

How to Retrieve Your Child’s Exact Foot Shape and Length

If after looking at that resource you still can’t seem to identify a shoe store in your area, then proceed to take a look at an article I created that describes the simplest, yet most effective way to figure out your child’s foot size from home.

If you are having a hard time finding a particular pair of shoes for your child please don’t hesitate to contact me and I will help you find them.

Do you agree with my selection of the best European and American kids’ shoe brands? Is there a particular shoe brand that you think I left out? Please share your thoughts and experiences below so other parents can benefit from them.

Keep in mind that these are generalizations that are not true for every American or European shoe style.