What do Wildlings have in common with roofers?And what connects the shoelaces we use with koalas?
It’s not easy to find a resistant upper for our minimal shoes that’s made of organic materials. Since we avoid using leather and in most cases also synthetics, we went in search of alternatives such as linen, hemp, cotton, and even paper - these are the temperature-regulating and breathable upper materials that create Wildlings’ unique comfy feeling.
Colours, fabrics, imagery - to collect ideas and work on new collections, we keep track of everything on mood boards.
But it’s not only about the uppers. When it comes to Wildling’s soles, laces, footbeds, or any other part of the shoe, the combination of sustainability and fair production plays a key role.
Washi paper. In Japan, it’s used for example for sliding doors and walls. The threads are obtained by twisting the paper strips and are then woven into fabric. Our Tanuki model is made from this material!
And it’s actually quite an exciting process!
Material leftovers filling the children's crafting box.
So what is it that our minimal shoes have in common with roofers?
Well - roofers make demands of their knees - just like wildlings make demands of their feet - both spend much of their time outside, putting tremendous amounts of pressure on these parts. And both do it with the help of a very special fabric that is soft enough not to restrict movement, yet very scuff-resistant. Workwear manufacturers recognized the benefits of tightly woven cotton very early on. Depending on the weave, the yarn becomes robust canvas, denim or moleskin. Sailcloth for example is made of canvas, denim used to dress the gold diggers of the Wild West, and moleskin is processed into durable workwear for roofers – or in our case, for the making of original Wildlings!
Hemp is particularly sustainable, also due to the plant's own THC content. It not only has an intoxicating effect but also serves as a natural pesticide. So no need for any additional use of pesticides during cultivation.
And what about the koalas? Okay, that might have been a bit far-fetched :) Although... koalas eat eucalyptus and... as a matter of fact, the fibre that can be extracted from the eucalyptus tree can be processed into something known as tensile fabric.
Much of it is used for shoe laces, but tensile fabric has many more uses.
It’s a good thing that eucalyptus uses resources efficiently and can be obtained in a closed-cycle process. Still, even though koalas are pretty cute and have a wonderful symbiotic relationship with the eucalyptus tree, our number one wildling is still the masked fox.
A block of rubber. Admittedly, not very pretty. But together with cork…
… this is what our soles are made of. The material is as flexible as possible.
From family business to family business
Just as important as the ecological footprint of the materials used, is fair production and personal contact with our suppliers. They know about every single production step - from the cultivation or manufacture of the raw materials to the final products. Many of the suppliers are small, owner-managed companies, with whom we share the notion that “taking over social responsibility” is not just an empty phrase.
Lace factory CKS - colour selection. Shoelaces usually don’t catch our attention until they break - but they can really boost the look of a shoe. Or ruin it.
The company that produces Wildling’s shoelaces demonstrates this in many ways: Mrs. Jutta Platz, née Klostermann, is the great-great-granddaughter of the company founder, Carl Klostermann. Thus, "Carl Klostermann and Sons" (CKS) has been a family-owned business for the last 127 years and the legacy goes on with Mrs. Platz's daughter. Based in the historic textile town of Wuppertal, 46 employees handle design and production issues, including the manufacture of our glow-in-the-dark laces (LINK WEBSHOP). As we talk to Mrs. Platz, it becomes pretty clear that to her, laces are more than just a necessary component of a shoe: "The right laces can always add that certain something - if well-selected. If not, they can just as well ruin the look of a shoe". To always stay up to date, she collects inspirational ideas for new and fashionable designs while visiting trade fairs in Germany and abroad.
CKS has no interest in expanding the company. Instead, they prefer to invest their resources in training for their personnel.
Wherever possible, CKS offers flexible working-time models to their employees, especially to those caring for relatives - whether old or young. Here in the Wildling fox’s den, we like to handle things similarly - it’s been one of our main guidelines since the beginning and will always remain so.
As the fox’s family continues to grow, we feel even more committed to these very important principles, and hope many will follow.
Run wild! Anna, Ran and Team Wildling
Outsoles can be colourful too!