The days of shoe-tying being a kindergarten right of passage were doomed as soon as the first velcro-fastened shoe hit the market. Heck, my 8-year-old didn’t learn to tie her shoes until just last year because it was simply easier for me to avoid the lace-ups and go with slip-on gym shoes. I’ve even had teachers ask specifically for little kids not to come to school in laced-up shoes, because they often don’t know how to tie them well (or tightly) enough and the teachers just don’t have time to be tying 40 pairs of shoes every day. But it’s hard to avoid laces completely when shoes with them don’t seem to be going the way of the Betamax any time soon, and styles like Converse Kicks are more popular than ever. Even my older kids want shoes with laces, but then never untie and retie them, simply stretching the laced-up shoes over or off their feet every time, making it hard for the shoes to give the support and strength that they need.
Kids crave both conformity and individuality, which is a hard mix to achieve most times – but products like the new U-Laces give them a way to fit in the with crowd while still maintaining their own unique style. You may have seen U-Laces on the ABC show Shark Tank – I don’t catch many episodes, but did happen to see the one where this product was pitched, and I loved the idea right from the beginning.
It’s simple, really… U-Laces are short, elastic cords that fit through the shoe eyelets that the laces normally weave through and turn any pair of lace-up sneakers into slip-ons. They come in a variety of colors, so kids can mix and match to create their own patterns and designs. The U-Laces are made so that once poked through the eyelet, the end folds out and keeps the cord from slipping back through. There’s no end to the designs that can be created with color and lacing patterns – you create it, you lace it, U-Lace it!
Courtesy of ChicExecs PR, we received a variety of U-Lace packs to try out, much to the delight of my teen and tween. They’ve each have been wearing lace-up tennis shoes – really, once you get out of the toddler and ‘kid’ sizes, most tennis shoes are still lace-ups. We don’t own any Converse, but Abbi’s Reebok gym shoes and Hannah’s New Balance sneakers both work very well with the U-Laces. It does take a bit of effort to get the U-Laces poked all the way through the eyelets, but once you’ve got them in, you can be pretty confident that there’s no way they’re going to ever slip back out without some serious assistance.
The girls divvied up the colors of U-Laces and set to work deciding what designs to create. They picked very different patterns, which was fun to see. So far they’ve left their designs intact and haven’t changed the laces out, but I expect that once school starts again and they’re paying much closer attention to what they wear, we’ll start seeing some adjustments in their U-Laces. My youngest is begging me not to buy her lace-up shoes for school this fall (she hates that she can’t get them tight enough to keep from coming untied over and over), but I haven’t seen many other options out there in her size. I love that U-Laces give us many more options to turn laced sneakers into slip-ons for her, so we can pick out the style and fit that works best for her without having to worry about the type of fastening the shoes have.
I was curious as to whether the shoes would be tight enough on the girls’ feet without laces, but the different U-Lace lacing patterns allow for that. The more times the U-Laces twist over and through each other, the tighter the shoes will fit. So you can adjust to what works best just by changing the lacing pattern and design. Hannah has routinely joined my runs lately in her New Balances with U-Laces and says they’re plenty tight enough to run in – she’s even run a couple of 5Ks with her U-Laces in her shoes. The only downside I can really see to these is that, depending on the shoe, it can be difficult to get them back out through the eyelets when you want to change things up. Once I played with Abbi’s a bit (her original lacing pattern wasn’t tight enough, so we had to take them out and put back in), I got the knack of how to maneuver the lace and the eyelet to make it work without killing my fingertips. By the time she settled on her final design and we got both shoes laced, we both were pros.
U-Laces can be found online at http://www.u-lace.com – a pack of six U-Laces costs $3.49. Note that it takes 2 packs to lace a pair of sneakers, so they’re essentially $7 or so per pair. The more colors you buy, the more you can mix and match – there are 50 different colors to choose from, so you can either match your team or school colors, or go as wild and crazy as you want. Or go back and forth – it’s totally up to you. 🙂 For more information you can follow U-Lace on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram or check out their YouTube channel.