Published on December 12th, 2013 | by Derek Markham0
Eco-Friendly Shoes: Felted Wool Valenki Footwear Could be Warmest Shoes Ever
The reinvention of a traditional peasant shoe by a young Swiss company could deliver the most eco-friendly, and the warmest, shoes ever.
Based on the traditional Russian felted sheep’s wool footwear, or valenki, the new line of footwear from Baabuk offers warm and functional shoes and slippers made from the simplest of materials – 100% wool for the body of the shoe, and recycled tires for the soles.
It’s tough to find truly eco-friendly shoes that are not only built to last, but that are also warm, functional, and beautiful. However, the felted wool slippers, shoes, and boots from Baabuk promise to be a unique and long-lasting addition to anyone’s shoe rack.
“Baabuk shoes are natural and handcrafted. They combine old know-how with modern and appealing design. Today, the Baabuk brand consists of 100% wool shoes, both indoor and outdoor, for adults and children.
Baabuk keeps your feet warm and is a natural cure for foot odor. The shoes are molded in one seamless piece – no stitches.
Each shoe is unique – we use natural and recycled materials for hand-crafting Baabuk. To make the body of the shoe, we only use water, soap and pure wool. For the sole, we use either leather, natural rubber or recycled tires.” – Baabuk
The process for making these shoes has a number of different steps, beginning with about half a kilo of wool, which is prepared in several layers on ‘shoe shapes’, and then manually felted together with warm water and soap. After the felting process, the shoes are washed in hot water, which shrinks the wool, after which they are “hit with hammers and brushes” to make them firm and water repellant, and then dried on shoe lasts before they’re decorated.
I’m a big fan of wool for clothing, and although synthetic materials have some advantages in terms of lightness or ease of production in a variety of different patterns, there is no comparison when it comes to felted wool. The fact that these shoes are molded, not stitched, means that they’re warmer and more durable than similar wool shoes, and their simple list of components (which includes recycled wool, leather, and repurposed tires and bike tubes), may just make these the most eco-friendly shoes around.