Wildling Shoes was born from the notion of regeneration. The minimal shoes support foot muscle recovery and regeneration and allow us to rediscover the joy of natural movement and feel the ground that supports us. But regeneration means even more: We aim to take responsibility for ecological and social issues that affect the future and to champion climate-positive solutions. We humans – particularly in the Global North – consume 400 megatons of carbon (CO2) every year. As a business, Wildling Shoes shares a portion of this global CO2 footprint. Wildling Shoes’ share of the total is currently around 1,800 metric tons per year, as determined by our preliminary data surveys.
“Businesses utilize the Earth’s resources, so it makes sense that they should also be committed to conserving them,” believes Wildling founder Anna Yona. In that regard, she wants to go one crucial step further: “We don’t merely want to minimize harm, we want to create a positive impact with every step we take.”
We are the generation that must now do everything possible to permanently reduce CO2 emissions. The lion’s share of Wildling Shoes’ emissions, 87 percent, are currently generated during raw material production and in the various stages of the supply chain. So for us, this is also where the key to real change lies – in rethinking the entire system and converting it into a regenerative cycle.
Image: Wildling Shoes/Sarah Pabst
Why we actively reduce emissions instead of offsetting CO2
In an intact cycle, trees and other plants absorb the CO2 that humans and animals exhale, and produce the oxygen (O2) that is in turn made available for humans and animals to breathe and live.
To ensure that we can still live well on this planet in the future, we need to ensure that this cycle is active and, most importantly, in balance. That means that we humans have to counteract our excessive CO2 emissions.
We have made a conscious choice not to offset the amount of CO2 consumed through purely financial means, because this doesn’t solve the problem. We’re not trying to buy a clean record on CO2 emissions. We can only make a genuine difference if we reduce emissions noticeably and permanently.
To bring things back into balance, we aim to actively reduce our largest sources of emissions by investing very specifically in circular solutions, renewable energy, and renaturation, as well as by developing our supply chain to become a regenerative, circular value creation system.
How we’re blazing new trails: Raw materials based on sound socio-ecological principles
The strongest points of leverage are in our manufacturing processes: Which materials do we use for Wildling shoes – and which do we consciously refrain from using because they can’t be generated ecologically? Which raw material producers take ecological and social principles seriously? How should shoes be designed so that they last as long as possible and are easy to repair? How can we manage to sensibly use the resources we have obtained for as long as possible, or to return them to nature as part of the natural cycle?
Wherever possible, we use materials sourced within Europe to keep transport distances short, we use ecologically produced natural materials and recycled materials, and we use ecological means and methods for dyeing and waterproofing treatment whenever we can. In fact, many materials already come with their own fascinating natural coloring. Increasingly, we are choosing not to dye these materials at all. This conserves energy and reduces the use of chemicals that complicate subsequent material cycles.
In terms of shoe design, we are continuously seeking to become more minimalist with respect to materials – for instance, by gradually finding more and more ways to forgo using microfiber.
Image: Wildling Shoes/Sarah Pabst
What we mean by slow fashion: Shoes with responsibility
Instead of a steady stream of new collections, Wildling Shoes only introduces a limited number of new shoe models each year. We strive to find the optimal compromise between producing a flexible, health-promoting shoe from natural materials that are generated as sustainably as possible, while also ensuring that the shoe can be used for as long as possible. We focus on material sourcing, production in Portugal, and lean logistics. As a result, Wildling Shoes does not offer cut-rate prices, pre-scheduled sales, or even guaranteed availability for all models at all times. Rather than increasing our shoe production and sales, we are committed to timeless design and expanding our repair options.
Header image: Daria Szotek