Iconic Nursing Shoe Brand Nurse Mates Is Doing Athleisure Now

Iconic duty-shoe brand Nurse Mates has written a new prescription for comfort. This spring, it expanded its consumer reach with the launch of Align, a sister lifestyle offering featuring an ergonomically designed orthotic meant to aid foot alignment.

The new line is a departure for the brand, a division of Andover, Mass.-based Sofft Shoe Co., after 50 years of focusing solely on the health-care community. According to national sales manager Steve Johnson, Align’s trend-driven looks, coupled with its proprietary technology and slip-resistant outsoles, have appeal beyond the duty market.

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Align Faxon slip-on sneaker.
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand,

“Each of the styles was developed for both work and leisure,” Johnson said, noting that the line includes athleisure styles and classic clogs retailing for under $90. “A portion of the younger generation tends to associate Nurse Mates with a classic white duty shoe. Align gives us the opportunity to change that perception.”

Align’s technology was developed with Boston-based podiatrist Kurtz Phelan. Key elements include a built-in orthotic that addresses a variety of foot types, a heel cup for stability, multi-level arch support for alignment and a dual-density impact-foam footbed.

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Align’s Fenton lace-up sneaker.
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand.

“In my career, I’ve always had an issue finding the right inserts to support my patients,” said Dr. Phelan, who also will serve as the brand’s spokesperson and deliver the label’s comfort message through a social media video campaign. “These are lifestyle shoes for [nurses], as well as teachers and flight attendants. Anyone in the service industry can benefit from them.”

Also getting the word out is brand ambassador Courtney Thibeault, founder of Nurses of Instagram, an information destination for nurses that boasts nearly 200,000 followers. “We’ve already seen momentum and interest from this market through word-of-mouth on social media and online reviews,” said Johnson.

Align is focusing distribution on its Nurse Mates e-commerce site and scrub shops.

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