Atoms is a New York-based startup that manufactures everyday sneakers for men and women, the wrong-sizers, and two-sizers. You read that right. Known for sleek and minimalist designs, Atoms shoes come in customizable sizes in quarter increments and you can buy different sizes for your left and right foot.
While footwear brands are increasingly working on 3D scans, apps, and other technology to help customers find their right fit, Atoms came up with a simple and affordable solution–increase sizing options by providing quarter sizes. These smart designs caught media attention and investors’ interest, many of whom came to the company as customers.
Atoms is featured in Forbes, Esquire, Vogue, British GQ, TechCrunch, and Bloomberg, all of which hailed the startup for fixing one of the biggest shoe shopping problems: Finding the right fit. Atoms also has a growing presence on social media with 19.5k followers on Instagram.
What would it take to create the perfect sneaker? Does Atoms have the answer? We’ll find out in this Atoms shoes review, which shares the brand’s story, showcases its best selling products, customer ratings, promotions, and more. Let’s dive in.
Overview of Atoms
What are Atoms shoes? To answer the question, we need to understand the ethos of the brand. A young couple, Waqas Ali and Sidra Qasim founded Atoms after traveling across the world in pursuit of this answer. “We will make only one shoe design a year, but we want to make that really well,” said co-founder Sidra in an interview with TechCrunch.
The idea was simple, and it paid off. By producing a single unisex model, the couple were able to focus on making quarter-sizing scalable (a feature most big shoe-manufacturers lack). With its minimalistic design, comfortable fit and durability, the entrepreneurs clearly took their time in figuring out and unraveling Atoms’ prototype. The duo had started their first shoe company, Markhor, in Okara, Pakistan, in 2012.
Not the kind to bank on just preconceived notions, the couple travelled the world looking down– at how countries dressed their feet. What they saw surprised them. The duo saw sneakers, plenty of them, every day, everywhere, even in countries known for different footwear.
After launching a Kickstarter campaign, Sidra and Waqas moved to Silicon Valley to go through the prestigious Y Combinator startup accelerator in 2015, where they dived into more customer research and product designs. Comfort and style, they found, were the biggest driving factors for sneaker purchases.
But there’s more: They discovered that 70% of the people have at least a quarter-size difference between their two feet, and more than 7% have a half-size discrepancy. The couple found their niche and a gap in the market all at once. In 2019, they launched Atoms in New York.
We all have had our share of struggles with shoes that don’t fit. Some of us even have scars from our battle. Atoms knows this pain. They’ve researched this for years to finally craft footwear that fits snugly and is easy on the feet, ankles, legs, and back.
For a sneaker brand that’s touted to have disrupted the fashion industry, it hardly comes as a surprise that Atoms has a following among celebrities as well. Atoms’ biggest champion has been Redditt co-founder and investor Alexis Ohanian, who wore a pair of Atoms to the 2019 Met Gala. What made Ohanian choose a pair of sneakers made by a little-known start-up brand, which he also invested in?
“It isn’t just a different look, it’s a different feel,” said Ohanian. “When I put on a pair for the first time, it was a totally unique experience. Atoms are more comfortable by an order of magnitude than any other shoe I’ve tried, and they quickly became the go-to shoe in my rotation whenever I was stepping out… I wear my Atoms all the time and even my fashion designer wife is a fan.”
For a startup, Atoms’ growth has been mercurial, but, as with any other business, it has its share of drawbacks. Based on my research, readings of reviews, and interaction with a customer who owns a pair of Atoms’ sneakers, this Atoms shoes review will list the company’s strengths and shortcomings. Let’s kick it off.
- Minimalist and versatile design
- Pick your quarter-size, say 10.25, and Atoms send you 10s, 10.25s, and 10.5s, plus socks to try them on with; customers can pick any two, even different sizes for each foot, and return the rest for free
- Copper threads in the shoes kill bacteria, preventing foot odor
- Ultra-soft midsole that cushions your move
- Easy to put on and take off without untying laces
- The tongue does not slip
- Free shipping and free returns
- Discounts for referrals, and if you send your old Atoms for analysis or donation
- Pricey: Atoms sneakers start at $129
- A limited selection of colors, designs
- Very short window time to shop for their limited editions
- International shipping unavailable
Do I need to say more? Yes, I do. This Atoms shoes review will now showcase some of the brand’s most popular sneakers. Tie up those laces, let’s run through what makes Atoms a kicker in the shoe industry.
Atoms Model 000
Sneakerhead or not, we all have that one pair of sneakers we almost always slip on without a second thought. Atoms Model 000, the brand’s first offering, is built to be that pair. At first glance, these smart sneaks could be mistaken for a pair of Nikes, especially the black and white version, until you notice the absence of the iconic logo. Atoms doesn’t believe in broadcasting names. The brand believes in experiences.
The strengths of Atoms Model 000 lie in its thoughtful details. These sneaks feature elastic laces for easy on/off, plus insoles lined with copper threads to kill bacteria and fight odor. The shoes are constructed with a custom foam midsole with cloud-like cushioning and lightweight, non-slip rubber outsole that’s easy on the feet and ankles.
Whether you’re warming up to set the dance floor ablaze with your moves, rushing to an office meeting, or gearing up to go on a long walk, Atoms Model 000 has the pump you need to get going every day. Priced at $129, these sneakers are available in four colors: white, black, grey, and a combination of black and white.
As mentioned in the preceding sections of this Atoms shoes review, Atoms sneakers come in quarter sizes (US size 5-11 for women, 3.5-9.6 for men). Select a size, and Atoms will send you three pairs that’s a quarter above and below your chosen size. Try on different sizes for both your feet and send back those that don’t fit free of cost.
Atoms has moved on to expand their line-up, but Model 000 remains a favorite among the brand’s loyalists, who chirp about its comfort, adaptability to all terrains, and versatility since they pair well with tons of casual outfits.
Atoms fans just wish there were more color options and a manual on how to clean these shoes. Personally, this one ticks a lot of boxes for me. I would have given it an all-clear if the cost didn’t make me grimace. More on this later in this Atoms shoes review.
Atoms Tie-Dye Blue Limited Edition Model 000
Are long work hours keeping you from appreciating the glorious shades in the sky? Don’t be disheartened. Here’s a little something to keep clouds swirling at your feet. Inspired by the backdrop of their Brooklyn Navy Yard office, Atoms rolled out its Limited-Edition Tie-Dye Blue Model 000 in September this year, priced at $129.
The sneaker design is the same as the OG model, but a message is subtly woven into this piece of craft–to save the environment. Each pair of Atoms Tie-Dye Blue Model 000 is made to order, so no excess inventory will go to waste.
Atoms uses an environmentally friendly ink to achieve the tie-dye print, which uses less water than conventional dyeing. Its commitment to sustainability is also evident in the material used to make this piece of the sky: 100% recycled polyester and brass eyelets.
Unfortunately, at the time of this Atoms shoes review, the window to order these limited-run shoes had passed. But we’ve still included these kicks in our list to give customers an idea of the cool colors that Atoms shoes sometimes come in. The brand also offered matching tie-dye face masks to go with these shoes. Now that’s a bold statement.
To sign up for future limited run releases, which may include another line-up of these tie-dye blues, customers can text “New Drop” to (917) 540-8458.
Atoms Water-Resistant Limited Edition Model 000
When customers complained about a lack of variety, Atoms added some color pop to their collection. When they griped about poor water-resistance, the brand introduced a limited-edition water-resistant model. Atoms is clearly a company that listens, and one that’s quick to innovate.
Atoms Water-resistant Limited Edition Model 000 is made with three layers: a breathable mesh, water-resistant film, and a copper lining to ward off bacteria that cause the feet to smell. Priced at $169, these shoes come in different shades including popping Neon, a subdued Red clay, elegant Coral Pink, Almond Yellow, and a rich Ocean Blue.
Jazz up your look by pairing Atoms neon shoes with a monochrome attire, or pull off an ensemble by matching your sneakers with an eye-catching neon outfit like Serena William did at last year’s Met Gala, as her husband Ohanian rocked a pair of Atoms. If you want a break from the monochrome, but aren’t confident about pulling off an explosive color, choose the low key coral pink slip-ons.
Atoms Shoes Reviews: What Do Customers Think?
The Twitterati have roasted Atoms and Redditters questioned Atoms, all over the brand’s pricing. So, how much do Atoms shoes cost? The starting price of a pair of Atoms is $129. Atoms shoes are expensive, and it puts off potential customers who say they can buy shoes from more established brands at a lower price.
Here’s an Atoms shoes Redditt review: “Maybe I’m in the 40% of people who are wearing the right shoe size but I don’t see myself paying $180 for what look like Allbirds JUST SO I can get the quarter sizes and copper lining.”
While some customers are happy with the quarter sizing, they are reluctant to shell out money for what they see as basic shoes, sans the frills, logo, and in-your-face design. “The size options were cool but nothing about them looked like a $200 sneaker,” said another Atoms shoes review on Reddit.
A majority of the skepticism over the brand is from sections of customers who haven’t worn Atoms. People who wear Atoms on a regular basis love the sneaks for their comfortable fit and minimalist design. They say the hype is real and the shoes are worth the price, given their durability. Customers are also particularly happy about the company’s responsive customer care.
“These are by far the best shoes I have ever owned. The quarter sized options and getting to choose the right size for each foot was an amazing change. They look good with almost every outfit and are very comfortable. They slip on and off easily and the laces allow me to get them very tight for things like tennis. They are a little bit pricey, but I think they are worth it,” said an Atoms shoes review on the website.
Are Atoms Shoes Worth It?
If you’re someone who does not mind shelling out a bit more for comfort and are a fan of minimalistic design, Atoms is for you. According to our Atoms shoes review, there’s no question about the quality of these shoes. Customers vouch for it. What impressed me most about Atoms was their simple solution to a complex sizing problem, one that was overlooked by the biggest shoemakers in the market. For that alone, this company deserves a chance.
Personally, I wouldn’t buy these shoes because of the pricing, but what I will do is keep a track of how they evolve (and possibly a price drop). Currently, the price puts them at the high end of the market, so it will be interesting to see how the pricing evolves as the business matures and how competitors, big and small, begin to catch up with the idea of selling footwear in a wider range of sizes.
Atoms Shoes Promotions & Discounts
Our Atoms shoes review discovered that each friend you refer receives $20 towards their first pair of Atoms. You’ll receive $20 towards your next pair when they make a purchase.
Where to Buy Atoms Shoes
You can get your pair of sneakers by visiting Atoms store online Atoms.com.
Where are Atoms shoes made?
Although based out of New York, Atoms’ production facilities are overseas, with most of the production in South Korea.
Can you wash Atoms shoes?
Atoms advises its customers not to machine wash their Atoms sneakers as it can ruin them. The shoes can be occasionally cleaned using a soft-bristled brush along with a cleaning solution and air-dried. Customers are asked not to machine dry their sneaks as it could distort the shape of the midsole. Atoms will not replace sneakers damaged by machine wash.
If customers want to deep clean them, the brand suggests taking out the insoles, keeping the laces tied, adding in shoe trees, and putting the shoes in a linen bag or pillowcase. Mix in towels or sheets to pad them in the washing machine in cold water on a gentle cycle.
What sizes does Atoms have?
To help customers find the right fit, Atoms asks them to undergo a brief quiz on the sizes they usually wear, the type of feet they have (normal, wide, extra-wide), if your one foot is bigger than the other, and how you spend time in your sneakers. Atoms then sends customers their size recommendation.
Atoms sizing for men is available in all quarter sizes between 3.5 and 15. For women, Atoms are available in all quarter sizes between 5 and 16.5. All sizes are US based. This Atoms shoes review provides a shoe size conversion chart:
What is Atoms’ Shipping Policy?
Atoms offers free shipping to locations with the U.S. Orders are shipped out within 2 days and items are delivered between 2-7 business days.
What is Atoms’ Return Policy?
Atoms returns can be initiated by logging in to Atoms’ Returns Portal on the brand’s official website to generate a pre-paid return label. The items can be dropped off at a shipper and then a new pair can be ordered online.
Customers are required to return the shoes within 10 days of delivery. They can wear these shoes outside to ensure they fit right. Refunds will be initiated within 2 business days of the company receiving shoes. Atoms masks are not eligible for returns or exchanges.
How to Contact Atoms
If you have questions that weren’t covered in this Atoms shoes review, Atoms shoes customer service can be contacted by emailing [email protected].
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