Craftswomanship aus Kirgistan

Craftswomanship from Kyrgyzstan

Aigul, the model from FOLKDAYS x Wildling Shoes, is the culmination of a wonderful collaboration. Like any Wildling Shoes model, Aigul tells a story on its own – in this case, it is the culmination of extensive planning and meticulous execution by a host of creative minds in Kyrgyzstan and Germany.

For centuries, strands have been spun from a city on the mountains into the everyday lives of a great many people: Osh, a city in southern Kyrgyzstan, was – much like the country’s capital Bishkek – once part of the Silk Road and continues to be shaped by its history of textile manufacturing. Many people there learn a traditional weaving technique at an early age, and in so doing, keep this special handicraft alive.

Ikat is the name of the method by which very robust fabrics are hand-woven after the cotton has been spun and dyed – likewise by hand. Larger ikat pieces, such as rugs, use motifs like animals or flowers to tell their own stories. This fascinating fabric that combines tradition and nature-friendly production reflects an approach to fabrics that the Global North has much to learn from. That’s why it was only logical for Wildling Shoes and our friends from FOLKDAYS, the label for contemporary fair trade design, to build a direct connection to Kyrgyzstani craftswomen so that we could work together

(Wildling Shoes founder Anna and Lisa from FOLKDAYS tell us exactly how this came about in the interview).

At last, it’s here: Aigul

The first hands-on result was a sturdy, springtime yellow woven fabric made from locally sourced organic cotton. Kyrgyzstani craftswomen spent months working exclusively for the FOLKDAYS x Wildling Shoes collaboration to supply it. This project also involves genuine social impact, as many of the local women had already been expecting to be forced to leave the region. That is because, unfortunately, there is an acute shortage of jobs in the region around the Kyrgyz mountains. How this new project has touched the lives of the women who worked on it is a story no one can tell as well as they can. That’s why they were visited by a team of Kyrgyz filmmakers who portrayed their stories in beautiful short films.

And now, after much adjusting, experimenting, and grappling, the second result is here as well (and we’re super stoked about it!): a limited edition collection made from exactly this Kyrgyz ikat woven fabric, which is

now available in the shop. The collection includes a tote and a belt from FOLKDAYS and of course, a new Wildling model – Aigul.

Fünf Frauen aus Kirgistan in farbenfroher praktischer Kleidung sind nebeneinander fotografiert.

A fabric woven from many stories

The inspiration for the latest minimal shoe in the Wildling Shoes repertoire is the eponymous national flower of Kyrgyzstan. It produces its first flower at a single, very specific moment – the full moon – and then takes an entire year to bloom for the second time. And there’s something else behind the Wildling Aigul, too – its ability to evolve. This ability is spurred on by the fabric’s natural dyeing process. In that process, the yarn is dyed using only turmeric and vinegar, and no pollutants are released into the environment. The complete absence of chemicals makes each product from the limited collection centered around Aigul a real one-of-a-kind. The more the sun shines on this minimal shoe and also on the accessories, the faster their color may become lighter. That means that in wearing the item, it comes to life and begins to express on its fabric everything that it has experienced with its wearer – making it truly unique.

Zwei Frauen aus Kirgistan verspinnen Baumwolle mit der Hand.

This way, by purchasing one of these limited edition models, you are always choosing a living product that tells many stories all at once: The collaborative and meticulous work of many craftswomen, which we at Wildling Shoes and FOLKDAYS regard as 100% craftswomanship. The chance to highlight and pay respect to the unparalleled fruits of their labor, their knowledge, and their skilled artistry on the other side of the value chain, in the Global North. And the prospect of more appreciative ways of producing and consuming.


Find out more about the creation process, the collaboration with the Kyrgyzstani craftswomen, and of course all the details about the products Aigul, Ay, and Gul on the Aigul collaboration landing page.

All Images: Subankulov Sanzhar