The special shape of the Wildling sole, which even at first glance is clearly different from the sole of any other shoe, might be a bit puzzling at first. Why is there a break in the sole? Will it protect you enough from the ground? Will it have to be treated with various products such as glue or impregnation spray?
In actual fact the Wildling sole is the result of many months or even years of intensive research, testing and development. After reading this very special story, in which Ran describes the exciting journey leading to the creation of the Wildling sole, you’ll know that it's extremely good the way it is. While of course you can never rule out the possibility of further development :-)
Once upon a time...
Functionality. Try not to impair any of the naturally occurring mechanisms in our foot and lower leg. Lightness. Have a classic design but also an innovative one. Work with sustainable materials. Produce in a fair way.
Those were the guiding principles when we first came to the drawing board to design the Wildling outsole.
After a few months of back and forth, we were finally able to see all of the above taking shape in a new, beautiful outsole. That gap in the middle of the sole looked especially nice - and which in fact plays an important role in our process of movement.
Now it was only a matter of finding a factory in Portugal that would produce it - a piece of cake! Who wouldn't want to produce such a special outsole?
Or so we thought.
What looked so nice on paper turned out to be every outsole producer’s nightmare!
The sole was too thin, with too many details, too many curves and that side logo - how do you wanna do that?! And above all - that gap in the middle of the sole - absolutely IMPOSSIBLE!
*If* you wanna do it, then it needs to be done with injection moulding which uses PU. It will be heavier than rubber and thicker than the 2.5 mm in the original design.
A real fox never gives up
We searched on until we met J.C. We clicked immediately.
He said that he thought we had a good concept and called the factory owner to discuss the matter further - “We’ll give it a try, but I’m not promising anything”.
After a few long, nerve-wracking weeks (the kickstarter campaign was getting closer), we finally received a phone call:
“We tried. I’m really sorry but it’s impossible. That gap in the sole. If you could only close that gap, then we could have the sole ready tomorrow!”
Silence... More silence...“Are you sure you need that gap?” Silence.
We flew back to Portugal.
We talked about the importance of the functionality of the sole, how it should flex and bend and in no way restrict a growing foot. That this was the heart of the shoe and we were sure that we could find a away. There's always a way. Silence...dead-end. A few long minutes of head grabbing and chin scratching went by. The door opened.
The designer of the sole mould stepped in to the room:
“I think I’ve got it! It won’t be easy, certainly not cheap and will require some work by hand after the sole comes out of the mould, but there's a way!"
We all looked at each other - “Let’s go!!”
There it was: the first Wildling sole
The final result was fantastic by any standard, and is considered by experts to be a real feat that was achieved by a unique and extremely talented effort.
And then they went even further - for sizes 23 - 35 the sole would be 2.5 mm, and sizes 36 - 42 (at that time) would be 3.5 mm.
It would be made of rubber and Portuguese cork and because the shoe is so soft, each size would have its own mould (it’s common in the shoe industry to have two or three sizes made from one mould to save costs).
Since then, we've made the soles softer and stronger, added sizes 43 - 46 (4.5 mm) and jointly developed a new sole for the Cubs, in sizes 18 - 22 (1.5 mm).
Late in this season of autumn/winter 2018, the soles will be made from 50% recycled rubber, and starting in spring-summer 2019, all soles will be made of 100% natural rubber (more info soon) :)
We’ve been working together ever since the beginning, so when we met a few months ago at Wilding’s logistics centre they told us:
“When you guys first came to us 4 years ago, you didn’t know anything about how to make shoes.
You still don’t, and that’s your biggest advantage!”
We’ll do our best to keep it that way ;)
Anna, Ran & team Wildling