person wearing shoes made from paper

Minimal shoes made from paper – Washi

Here’s what's behind the fabric made of paper

Some of the best-loved Wildling shoes models are made of a very special material: washi. The paper fabric is not only robust and breathable, it also has many other benefits.

Whoever owns Wildling shoes made of washi will not want to part with them again. The material makes the shoes particularly light and supple. That's especially great in the summer, but Wildling shoes-wearers who do sports are also big fans. 

The material used to make the extremely light footwear is amazingly thin. Washi is also known as Japanese paper or rice paper. It's manufactured in Japan using traditional methods, and until recently it was used for the ink painting typical in Japan, for the restoration of books and the production of so-called shoji screens.

Tanuki worn at beach
Image: ©Stefano Lotumolo | Tanuki Umi worn, tattooed legs at the beach

Washi cuts a great figure

It's now been discovered by the fashion industry and is gradually spreading to Europe. When Anna and Ran heard about washi for the first time, they knew right away that they’d have to make something out of it! After countless months of concentrated development work, our Tanuki models were born.

As well as the Tanuki models, these removable insoles are also made with washi. Because washi dries very fast and doesn't tear, it’s a great fit for that job.

Japanese paper is made from bast fibres from the wood of the gampi tree, paper mulberry bush (“kozo”) and mitsumata shrub, for example. Traditionally, plant-based mucilaginous materials (“neri”) or rice paste are added during manufacturing. Today, synthetic neri such as polyacryl may also be used.

person dancing and close-up
Image: Wildling Shoes/Nora Tabel | A person dancing wearing minimal shoes Tanuki Niji and close-up

Traditional manufacturing

Washi is produced in an intricate process. First, water is added; then the paper is pressed, brushed on special wooden boards, and finally it’s dried on metal surfaces heated with steam. In Japan every region has its own production method and its own name for the Japanese paper. The finished sheets also look slightly different from region to region.

An order from Japan

Recently, Ran noticed that Washi developer Mr Itoi had ordered Tanuki Keshi for his wife and Tanuki Umi for himself. This news was cause for celebration in the team! The work had been worth it and Mr. Itoi’s order was the icing on the cake.

A craft that's hundreds of years old and a wonderful tradition that's found a fixed place in our modern world - that fits perfectly with Wildling Shoes. What could be nicer than a feeling of freedom around the toes – especially on warm summer days when you're always on the lookout for a fresh breeze? And it's all made possible by Wildling shoes made of Mr Itoi’s magical paper.