White sneakers are a classic staple in every shoe collection and are simply indispensable. The amazing design, which is reminiscent of the iconic Adidas Stan Smith sneakers, which are happily worn by the younger generation, will put you in doubt if these Groundies Universe are barefoot shoes at all. Well, they are!

When you think about barefoot shoes you probably think about strangely-shaped shoes which don’t look modern at all. But times have changed and barefoot shoes look very modern and fashionable.

In addition to a modern look, the Universe will also give you space and freedom for your toes. Groundies are constantly proving to us that this is possible. Even a shoe with all the barefoot characteristics can look great.

Disclaimer: I was sent these shoes as a gift to review, but as always, all opinions expressed here are my own and I don’t receive any compensation if you choose to buy some for yourself.

1. General

  • Brand: Groundies
  • Model: Universe
  • Colour: white
  • Tested on: woman, medium-wide feet, 26.3 cm long and 10 cm wide (10.3 cm between metatarsal heads), low instep, skinny ankles with narrow heel, fin-shaped foot (see my how to measure guide and foot type) – wearing size 42

|Made in EU|Adult|Vegan options|Ship worldwide|

2. Material characteristics

2.1 Upper

The upper in Universe model is made from smooth cowhide leather in white colour. The leather is thicker than in their first Ibiza model, which I reviewed here, so it won’t wrinkle and it will keep its smooth look.

I love white sneakers, but keep in mind that white shoes are always more sensitive to wear. It can look worn out faster, just because of the white colour. But this is something that you just take into account with all white shoes.

Shoes come with matching white flat laces. At the top of the tongue there is added a black Groundies logo.

At the side of the shoes there are added small decorative holes and decorative stitching.

The sole is glued and stitched to the upper for added durability.

My Universe model is completely white except this black part on the heel with a Groundies logo on the top.

2.2 Lining

Shoes are lined with soft microfibre, which is according to Groundies also breathable. I don’t find that my feet would tend to sweat more in shoe lines which are lined with microfibre than in shoes which are lined with leather. They are pleasant to wear even without socks.

2.3 Sole

Universe feature new Groundies GS1 sole, which has a slightly different design than their original sole. This new “wall” design definitely makes them look trendier, but they feel a bit narrower because of this design. I’ll talk more about that in Toebox shape & width section.

The sole is made of 100% LTPU (3 mm base with 3.9 mm tread) and the ground feeling is similar as in their original sole. Very decent ground feeling, but you get a bit of squishy and soft feeling while walking. Which is not a bad thing all all, especially if you walk a lot of hard surfaces like asphalt and concrete.

Flexibility is good in both directions, although the design of the outsole makes them slightly less flexible than sneakers with their original sole are. But the flexibility is still good and definitely more than I have expected from the photos when I saw them.

Also check my video for the close-up and to see how they look on my feet.

3. Sizing information

3.1 Length

The Groundies Universe is available in men and women sizes from size 36 and up to size 48. If you wear size anything in between 40-43, take in mind that there is no difference between men and women models if the shoe is available for both sexes.

©Groundies

In the Universe model I wear size 42 as in all Groundies models. According to Groundies this model runs a little larger, but I measured it with Plus12 and I find it true to size (size 42 is exactly 27.5 cm).

For my foot length 26.3 cm I have 12 mm inside the shoes, which is also the space recommended by different studies. I would recommend you to choose the size which you usually wear with Groundies. Just be careful to get enough space in front of your toes.

See my post How much space do we need in shoes if you want to know more about that.

3.2. Toebox shape & width

3.2.1 Toebox shape

Groundies toebox shape works well to a lot of different foot shapes. They are best suited to feet with the longest second toe, but they can work well also for feet with the longest big toe with a milder slope towards the little toe. They are just slightly tapered at the big toe area, which people with the longest second toe will find less disturbing than those with the longest first toe.

I find out that the best fit is hard to get for people with the longest big toe with a stronger slope towards the little toe who also have a foot with less volume in the front part. In that case you end up with a lot of space in front of your little toes and in combination with a lot of space above the toes, feet just don’t fill out the shoe well to look and feel good.

More about different foot types you can read in my post What is my Foot Type?

3.2.2 Width

Groundies shoes are best suited to medium and medium-wide feet, but the new GS1 sole and its “wall” design makes them feel a bit narrower because of this. They don’t allow as much spreading to the side as the classic sole. If you just fit in the old sole, take in mind that you can find the new sole more restrictive.

Therefore in terms of width, the Universe feels slightly narrower than their sneakers with classic soles (like Ibiza for example). For my 10 cm wide feet they just work and I can still wear them with no problem. But I prefer wearing them sockless to get as much space as possible.

How about the space above the toes?

Well, the Universe are very spacious there. My toes are not even touching the top of the shoe. If you had problems before with shoes being too snug above your toes, those are worth a try. You can also see on the photo that my foot with less volume doesn’t completely fill the front part. This is noticeable in the slight concavity of the material.

3.3. Fit around the instep, heel and ankle

In the instep area, they are more suitable for a lower to normal height instep and narrow to normal heel widths. If you have narrow heels, but high instep, you can find them hard to adjust around the ankles without any gapping. If you have wider heels and higher instep, this gapping won’t happen, but the width of the sole can be problematic for you.

4. Comfort

No complaints here. Universe is comfortable from the minute I put them on.

5. How and when to wear them?

My favorite way to wear Groundies Universe is just as classic as the shoe. Nothing beats jeans and a tee. But the Universe is very easy to style and they are great to wear with many different outfits, just because they are so simple and basic.

They can be dressed up or down and for a more feminine look you can definitely try pairing them with a mid skirt or dress with a leather jacket on top. To draw more attention to your shoes, wear your white Universe with darker pants.

6. Price & where to buy

Groundies Universe can be bought directly from their website. Full price for the Universe model is 129€.

7. Shipping info

Groundies offer free shipping for all EU countries. For Australia, USA and Canada free shipping is only if you choose an option by sea. For DHL Premium World the shipping cost is 34,90€. Check more information about shipping here.

For ordering I recommend you to use Paypal and you can use their free return service.

8. To sum up

If anyone knows how to make fantastic sneakers then this is definitely Groundies. New outsole which is used in some new models and also in the Universe model definitely keeps them in line with fashion trends. Groundies Universe is a real proof that barefoot shoes can look modern and fashionable without making any compromises on toe freedom and foot health.