My first Wildlings are arriving soon! But what happens then – do I just pull them on and set off? Do I have to walk differently and do something complicated with wax or waterproofing spray? And what about the conditions under which the shoes were produced? For the answers to these and other questions, read on...
Minimal shoe 101
Walking, running and jumping in Wildlings
There’s no need to consciously change how you walk when wearing minimal shoes. If something does change with our gait, it happens automatically. Our stride gets shorter, the thin sole makes us more careful – we can soon feel which movements are best avoided and learn to take attentive steps. In other words, we tread lightly and mindfully, using more muscles and landing gently on the front or middle of the foot.
Photo: Sandra Dienemann
It's a common misconception that minimal shoes have to be worn without socks – Wildlings are as little shoe as possible, but as much as necessary. They provide room for your natural foot shape, not supporting with artificial elevations and heels, but protecting your feet. So in Wildlings you feel like you’re walking barefoot – but it's completely up to you whether you prefer to wear no socks, thin socks or thick woollen socks and fleecy insoles.
Why is the sole the way it is?
The sole is inspired by Japanese ninja boots, and its shape and material provide absolute flexibility. So your feet are free to move in all the ways they need to and are protected where they need protection. The natural ribbed profile resembles that of a fox's paw. The thin sole, between 1.5 and 3.5 mm, allows you to feel each step and be in direct contact with the ground, almost as if you were barefoot. The intense awareness of body and space is incredibly important in order to send the right signals to muscles and joints. Unlike in a shoe with all-round cushioning, where the body is encouraged to take steps that are too big and substantial, movements in minimal shoes are softer, and are gently absorbed by the body's natural cushioning mechanism.
In the product descriptions on the website you’ll find important information about how to care for the individual models.
Cotton / Linen / Hemp
To make the upper fabric water-resistant, please treat the shoes thoroughly with waterproofing spray before wearing them for the first time and then at regular intervals. Important: Don't forget to spray the gap in the sole and the microfibre edging, and leave enough time for the shoes to dry.
Wool / Boiled wool
Thanks to the wool grease, lanolin, wool has natural self-cleaning and water-resistant properties. However, don’t put waterproofing spray on the wool, as it would destroy its texture. On the wool models, only treat the edging and the gap in the sole. You can do this very precisely using a small paintbrush. If necessary, you can re-grease the shoe using a lanolin treatment.
Washi (Tanuki models)
These models are water-permeable, can be worn together with the Washi insole in water and dry very quickly. You therefore don't need to treat them. Simply slip them on and off you go!
Wildlings are not suitable for machine washing. When the shoes are dirty, let them dry and then knock off the dirt, brush carefully and/or clean them with a damp cloth.
If the shoes have been through the puddle-jumping Olympics and have got very wet, you can stuff them with paper and put them by (not on!) a radiator. Please keep in mind: Wildlings are fabric shoes which – depending on the material and condition – will react in different ways to being wet. That's why every shoe should be thoroughly treated with waterproofing spray before the first wearing and re-sprayed at regular intervals. The exceptions are our water-permeable Tanuki models and models with a wool/boiled wool upper.
We advise you not to wash your Wildlings in the washing machine. If shoes develop an unpleasant odour over time, it’s due to the bacteria on our skin, which sneak into the materials of the shoe in our sweat. One thing that can help is putting a tea bag (e.g. mint) in the shoes overnight. Another option would be to sprinkle a little bit of cinnamon in the shoes, or to mix some baking powder with an essential oil (e.g. lavender), spread it in the shoes and then tip it out the next day. Washable insoles or effective microorganisms are other ways of putting an end to unpleasant odours.
Are Wildlings warm enough in winter?
Moving about keeps you warm. So to keep your feet warm it's important that shoes have enough space in them for a bit of toe-wiggling! The longer you wear minimal shoes, the better the circulation in your feet. If you like to wear especially thick woolen socks, we recommend that you bear that in mind when choosing your size.
Are Wildlings suitable as sports’ shoes?/strong>
Wearing Wildlings strengthens muscles, tendons and ligaments – but of course also demands more of them. So at the beginning you shouldn't walk too much in your first barefoot shoes. Instead you could, for example, increase the distance bit by bit. Wildlings are used in many types of sport, for example tennis, circuit training, hiking or tango-dancing.
Does the sole leave marks?
All Wildling soles are non-marking and therefore suitable for wearing in sports’ halls.
In the FitKit, what do we mean by “roll space” and “growth zone”?
The roll space (striped area on the FitKit) provides wild paws large and small with enough space to spread out and stretch. Most people have spent their lives wearing shoes that are too narrow and usually also too short. Feet have got used to that, but even adult feet need a bit of roll space so they can walk in a healthy way. With feet that have finished growing, the longest toe should come up to the line where the roll space starts.
For feet that are still growing, the FitKit has an additional shaded grey area. That’s an extra growth zone of about 6 mm, because children's feet grow about 1 mm per month on average. So with feet that are still growing, the longest toe should come up to the line where the growth zone starts.
With feet that have finished growing there's no need to consider the growth zone!
Do Wildlings fit if you have wide feet/bunions/high insteps/very narrow feet?
Whether narrow and flat or broad with a high instep – the shoe takes on the shape of the foot and not (like with conventional shoes) the other way round. The underlying shape of the shoe is based on an anatomical foot shape with a natural width, orientated towards a strong, healthy foot. It provides feet with the space they need to develop in a healthy way. You can also adjust the fit using the laces or additional insoles.
Bunions/orthopaedic inserts and co.:
We can’t replace medical advice and we don't want to. However, many people report that their back or joint pain has improved. Wildlings also provide enough space for feet with bunions.
In principle you can also wear orthopaedic inserts in Wildlings. The barefoot feeling is lost, but feet can still benefit from the wide, natural toe box. Here, too, people have reported improvements to conditions such as fallen arches, flat feet, splay feet, pelvic tilt, etc., with the result that they no longer need inserts.
Why are Wildlings not available in unlimited quantities?
At Wildling, sustainable production and a sustainable supply chain are very close to our hearts. That also means that we have to plan quantities of required materials very precisely in order to avoid over-producing. That's why models from past collections don’t generally go into additional production runs, and in the current collection too, models may be sold out. In addition, sustainable materials are not available in unlimited quantities. Often materials are manufactured especially for Wildling in small amounts. But we are constantly working to adjust our supply to correspond to the demand.
Where are Wildlings produced?
When choosing production partners we look for fair working conditions and maintain sustainable, long-term business relationships, gladly with smaller businesses. Our extensively sewn shoes are made almost exclusively by hand at a traditional Portuguese company.
How a wild design is created
Lieferkette: A sustainable supply chain at wildling - from fibre to shoe and beyond
Where does the wool come from?
Here, our most important partner is Nordwolle: Pomeranian sheep that are kept for landscape maintenance purposes and whose shepherds are paid fairly. Other kinds of wool used by Wildling come from certified organic livestock.
Why does Wildling sell almost exclusively online?*
Online shopping makes it easier for us to interact with you and keep you involved. And we can keep prices down, because the trade margin in the clothing industry is usually 50-60%. It’s also cheaper and more sustainable to maintain a central warehouse than lots of smaller warehouses around Germany.
*You’d prefer to try on and purchase Wildlings on site? Visit us at our warehouse shop in Engelskirchen or at one of the trade fairs and events we participate in all over Europe! In our showrooms in Cologne and Berlin you can try the shoes on and then have them delivered to your home free of charge.
Do you have sales? How do sales and sustainability go together?
Sales are not planned into the process in advance. However, there are Wildling sales now and again – because if models are left over at the end of the season it's more sustainable to sell them in a sale than to store them in a bigger warehouse. But unlike fast-fashion labels, Wildling doesn’t deliberately over-produce in order to attract customers with as many sales as possible.
If you have further questions, have a look at our FAQ, contact our customer service staff by mail or in the live chat or visit one of our social media channels where you can chat with us and other customers!