The slot in the outsole not only makes Wildlings stand out visually, but also makes them extremely flexible. If you're familiar with the post about our sole story, you’ll know how hard it was to find production partners who wanted to take on this challenge. But all the effort paid off. Combined with the material, the slot in the sole ensures that our shoes adjust perfectly to your feet and also to any kind of terrain underfoot, which is just what you need from companions on wild adventures.
Nevertheless, it still drew criticism here and there, because a gap in the sole leaves the material underneath unprotected and at risk from abrasion and sharp stones. Depending on the gait of those wearing them, first-generation Wildlings were sometimes extremely worn through. But we wouldn’t be Wildling if we weren’t constantly on the lookout for solutions. And we’ve also found one for this stumbling block. But let’s start from the very beginning...
Reinforcements for Wildlings
When Team Wildling are looking for new approaches, we often find that a fresh view from outside opens up new perspectives. And that was the case here: A new pack member arrived at the Fox’s den, bringing know-how and a solution. Starting from the autumn/winter 2018 collection, all Wildlings came equipped with a patch that reinforced the material in the sole slot. The material we found for the patch promised to reduce abrasion considerably in the ball area of the slot. We were over the moon about this find, because it was flexible enough to adjust to the foot while walking, yet still protected the gap in the sole.
The first step was taken on our mission to “increase durability, maintain flexibility”, but we came to realize that we hadn't yet reached the end of that particular journey.
Fewer shoes, more sustainability
Every time a shoe is produced, resources are being used. And using those resources sparingly is an established part of the Wildling philosophy. Which is why the following applies: The longer Wildlings are worn without needing to be replaced by a newly produced successor, the more sustainable they are.
“Just close up the sole altogether!” is a well-meaning piece of advice that we are often given in this context. But as logical as that might seem, it's not an option for us. A closed sole would restrict freedom of movement considerably, and that piece of freedom is something we definitely want to hang on to. So we kept on looking!
Just like when we were developing the sole, our persistence paid off. After lots of research, precise comparisons, tests in the lab and countless telephone calls, we found a way of making the sole slot even stronger without restricting its flexibility.
The new material is ironed directly on to the sole, and the heat makes it stick to the fabric. It's also extremely robust and durable.
Some Wildlings from the autumn/winter 2019 collection already benefited from the new patch, surprising their wearers with a sole slot that withstands various types of terrain and gait while stopping moisture from getting in.
That's why, starting from the spring/summer 2020 collection, it will be reinforcing all new Wildlings.
Summer Wildling 2020: The Tanuki Niji
And the very best thing?
Whether with an old patch, a new one or none at all, all Wildlings are equipped for a whole range of adventures around the world. And although the new sole reinforcement is definitely a step forward, we’re not going to rest on our laurels.
We like shoes better! So as usual there's a lot going on to help us make Wildlings even more durable and sustainable – while of course maintaining the same level of freedom for our feet
Anna, Ran & the Wildlings