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The concept of Wildling minimal shoes
They are absolutely flexible for unlimited freedom of movement:
Wildling shoes adapt to the wearer’s individual foot shape like a second skin, and their flexibility enables unrestricted freedom of movement. When we select the materials, we make sure that they are soft, supple, and flexible – so the shoe takes the shape of the foot, not the other way around. Walking barefoot or running in minimal footwear can bring a number of advantages, including:
– increased mobility
– strengthening and increased range of movement for the foot muscles
– building the foundation for healthy foot development
– better circulation in the feet
– a better feel for the terrain also results in better balance and surefootedness, since your body can find the best way to adjust to the ground conditions
This allows you to maintain a natural gait and your joints can move freely and naturally, carrying out their task smoothly and efficiently.
Take it slow. Walking and running in Wildling shoes should be phased in step by step. Listen to your gut, or better yet, your feet. We do not recommend going on long or strenuous hikes in the first weeks. In most cases, and with normal activities, people make the transition without experiencing symptoms of overexertion. With time, the body becomes accustomed to the new walking experience and the demands, and the muscles become increasingly stronger.
If you switch to Wildling shoes after decades of wearing conventional shoes, your body might react to the change in some cases. You might feel sore muscles as a result of the increased physical demands, or a pull in your back or knees, or other similar reactions. Mild symptoms can be a part of the process of reactivating dormant muscles and ligaments in the feet. If the symptoms persist, we recommend contacting a specialist.
The Wildling last – the base form of the shoe – is designed according to an anatomical foot shape with a natural width that is based on a strong, healthy foot. The shape provides feet with the space they need to develop in a healthy way.
By walking naturally in Wildling shoes with the additional space inside the minimal shoe, it is even possible to reverse the initial signs of foot degeneration and malformation. The difference to the shape of conventional shoes is particularly noticeable in the toe area. In Wildling shoes, the big toe is given space to assume its natural angle and fulfil its important function of distributing body weight during powerful forward strides and building a strong arch.
As your muscles become stronger, your foot may become a little wider. The toes start to straighten out again and the arch of the foot becomes more pronounced.
Because of their healthy width, the shoes also fit naturally wide feet, which are typically confined in conventional shoes.
A heel – the difference in height between the forefoot and the heel (also known as the heel lift) – is usually integrated into conventional shoes for reasons of style or to cushion the impact of a heel strike when walking.
But the body is inherently self-contained, so artificial cushioning is not necessary. From head to toe, our body is built like a giant spring. Consisting of three forward curves (lordosis) and three backward curves (kyphosis), our skeleton as a whole works much like a shock absorber. Raising the heel of the foot by adding a heel in the shoe hinders this natural function and reduces the tension of the Achilles tendon. This energy is no longer available when you push off with your foot (think of an elastic band) and prevents the tendon from rising to the task at hand.
For children, a built-in heel lift can have far more serious consequences. In relation to body height, a 1 inch heel lift worn by a seven-year-old child is the equivalent of a 2 inch heel worn by an adult. That means that in principle, nearly every child is wearing 2 inch high heels from the age of seven (in relation to their height).
“The leg is akin to a pendulum. The greater the weight at the end of the pendulum, the more energy is required to swing it.” – David Epstein in The Sports Gene
In other words – the weight at the end of the leg has an effect on the entire body and its energy expenditure. More weight means more effort and thus higher oxygen usage. When this weight is placed on our feet, more energy (oxygen) is consumed than when it is placed on our hips – the further away the weight is from our center of gravity, the “heavier” it becomes.
Less weight at the end of the leg consequently means less effort and therefore lower energy expenditure with every step. Wildling’s particularly flexible and sustainable materials provide unrestricted freedom of movement and the feeling of being barefoot.
A very distinctive and innovative example is washi (by Itoitex), which is made of 75% paper and the material our Tanuki models are made from. Weighing only 1.9-5.3 oz, the Tanuki models are among the lightest shoes in the world.
Innovative sole design and Wildling shoe’s signature footprint; at an average sole thickness of less than 0.1 inch.
The wild tracks are unmistakable, and they stand out among other things because of the gap in the outsole. This has a major role to play in the movement process, as it allows maximum flexibility in every direction.
Besides its innovative design and unique footprint, the Wildling sole is one thing above all: thin! At an average thickness of just 0.098 inch, it does not interfere with the naturally available movement mechanisms in the feet and calves; the feet can fulfil their functions unhindered − just like when walking barefoot.
And not only that, the thin sole also creates the feeling of walking barefoot, which allows us to perceive our surroundings more consciously.
For more details, read the full story about how the Wildling sole was developed.
When you look at pictures of Roman ruins, one thing stands out. Which parts of the construction have generally withstood the test of time? Exactly, the arches! Arches were and are still used in architecture and statics for load-bearing purposes.
The same applies to the arches of our feet. They are a perfect weight and shock absorbing mechanism. To preserve the function of our foot arches, their range of movement should not be restricted. That is why Wildling shoes do not have a footbed or any kind of support, so the arches of the feet can bend and stretch, making them stronger and more stable every day.
Production & materials
Our choice of Wildling production partners was influenced not only by the quality of the craftsmanship, compliance with fair working conditions and with environmental standards, but also by the friendly and cheerful atmosphere in the factories.
We regularly visit our production partners to discuss new models together on an equal footing, to carry out quality controls, and to take a look behind the scenes – watch our video.
We have a Portuguese Wildling team: Manuel and Cris are in charge of quality and production management, developing and optimizing the Wildling range, and taking care of any aches and pains that may arise in the process.
We use natural materials to the greatest extent possible and focus on both regionality and origin in our selection.
Wildling shoes are made from materials such as cotton, hemp, linen, cork, rubber, and boiled wool – predominantly from certified organic cultivation or certified organic animal husbandry. Some of the models are made exclusively from raw materials of non-animal origin. If we use materials that are derived from animals, these special criteria have to be respected. For example, Wildling utilizes wool from the landscape conservation project Nordwolle.
To keep delivery routes short, to support small regional businesses and to guarantee fair production, the majority of the processed fabrics are manufactured in Germany and Europe. One exception is the special Japanese washi material used for the Tanuki models made from paper.
Wildling shoes are textile shoes that can be water-repellent but not waterproof. That means that they are no substitute for, say, rubber boots.
Some models feature an integrated membrane, which boosts their water resistance many times over. Please refer to the model’s product description for details on the features of each shoe model. Tanuki models in particular are designed to be water-permeable.
Membrane socks, which can provide additional protection against moisture penetration, can be additional protection on those long, wet days outdoors.
Yes, they can! Here are a few more tips for how to keep your feet cozy and warm in all kinds of weather:
Movement – Keep moving in your minimal shoes. This will make your foot muscles work more and increase your circulation so your feet stay warm.
Sufficient rolling space – Make sure you have enough room in your Wildling shoes. In particular, it is crucial that the toes have plenty of leeway to roll during movement, since this also serves as a protective air cushion in cold weather.
Thick socks and extra insoles – If you want things a little warmer, you can wear thick socks and/or an extra insole. Keep this in mind when choosing your size, so that your feet will still have plenty of room to move.
Here is a short video that shows all steps of inserting and adjusting Wildling elastic laces.
Not in the mood to watch a video? Here’s a step-by-step guide:
First, trim the elastic laces to the required length and apply a drop of a suitable liquid adhesive to prevent fraying.
Thread the elastic laces through the clip, tie the laces in a knot, attach the end cap, and click it firmly into place. If you want to reopen the end cap, you can carefully pry it open with a suitable object (for example with the blade of a small screwdriver or a small kitchen knife).
Sizing & fit
You can find all information about your Wildling shoe size and the easiest way to determine it on the size finder page.
If you are in need of a comparison of Wildling US sizes and Wildling EU sizes, you can find a table there also.
Thanks to soft and flexible materials, Wildling minimal shoes provide a comfortable fit and conform to the individual shape of the foot.
All shoe models have the same basic interior volume. If you wear different models, they may each feel a bit different because of different materials and linings. In the product description of the models there is further helpful information about the fit.
Extra tip for narrow feet:
Due to the wide lacing, the shoe can be laced so tight that it also fits narrow feet. You can also use an additional insole to reduce the inner volume of the shoe. Have a look at them in the webshop.
It is easy to make sure that your Wildling shoes fit properly. Watch our video or read on:
1. Try on your Wildling shoes the same way you plan to wear them later:
With or without additional insoles, with thin or thick socks (for reasons of hygiene, please remember to always wear socks when trying on your Wildling shoes).
2. Are the shoelaces tied correctly?
When threading the laces, you can leave out the top eyelet if you would like. Just experiment to see what works best for you. The laces are intended to ensure that the shoe fits well and does not slip. You can test your Wildling shoes by walking around inside your home.
3. Do your new minimal shoes give you enough room in the front?
The shoe should fit comfortably overall and create a good feeling when you walk. For adult feet, we recommend a thumb width’s space between the tip of the shoe and the tip of the longest toe. For children’s feet, you can leave a little bit more space. Just make sure that they do not stumble.
Clean & care
In each product description in the webshop, you will find detailed care instructions for your new Wildling minimal shoes.
For the usual everyday dirt, dust, and mud, it is (for most models) fine to let the shoes dry if they need to, and then brush them off or wipe them down with a damp cloth.
Please note: We love to clean our shoes carefully and gently, and we do not recommend taking your Wildling shoes for a spin in the washing machine, nor can we guarantee that they will survive the process unscathed.
Because of the high flexibility and pliancy of the entire shoe coupled with the minimal sole, Wildling shoes are subject to significantly more stress than a conventional, rigid shoe, as they bend and flex when your foot does. This may cause the sole to come loose in places.
To reattach the sole, we recommend flexible conventional cobbler’s glue, which you can apply with a toothpick or other similar tool.
Please note that we cannot assume responsibility for any staining caused by your glue.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our customer service directly.
Since the sole of each Wildling shoe is also glued, loosening threads will not affect the functionality of your minimal shoe.
You can easily carry out the following steps yourself:
1. Trim any loose thread
2. Use a lighter to carefully singe the seam so that it is re-sealed
This way you can continue to wear your Wildling shoes with confidence.
If, contrary to expectation, the seams do loosen a bit more, you can always contact our customer service via email.
Particularly during times of high precipitation, a lot of people are eager to apply a waterproofing spray, but not all Wildling models are suitable for that treatment.
As a general rule, you should bear in mind that your wild companions can only be water-repellent and not waterproof, even if you treat them with a waterproofing agent.
You will find detailed care instructions for your Wildling model in their particular product description.
Please observe the following guidelines regarding waterproofing:
– Frequency of waterproofing
Ideally, you should give your Wildling shoes a water repellent treatment before wearing them for the first time, as well as at regular intervals in order to retain and restore their water-repellent properties.
– Best suited product for waterproofing
We sell our own environmentally friendly Wildling waterproofing spray. As an alternative, you can also use a waterproofing product you already have at home.
– Things to bear in mind with waterproofing
The microfiber edging and the recesses in the sole in particular should be thoroughly treated. This can be done very carefully using a small brush. Watch our video on how to best apply waterproofing to your Wildling shoes.
The Tanuki models are designed to be both air- and water-permeable. And we enjoy the feeling of going without water-repellent coatings! (Which does not make a difference with this particular material anyway)
Wildling shoes with a woolen upper material should not be completely treated with waterproofing – only their microfiber edging. Wool has water-repellent properties by nature – additional waterproofing will damage the structure of the wool. If the natural protection starts to diminish after some time and the shoe feels clammy from inside, you can re-grease the shoe. Additional care information for shoes made with wool can be found here.
With waxed models, too, the upper material should be spared during the waterproofing process and the treatment should be limited only to the microfiber edging and recesses in the sole.
Watch our video about waterproofing to see how it is done:
It is important that both the shoes and the insoles are always well ventilated and are allowed to dry quickly and completely when damp or wet.
Wildling Shoes can be purchased exclusively through our Webshop https://us.wildling.shoes/, through Pop-up stores and through our on-site showrooms in Cologne and Berlin and at our warehouse in Engelskirchen (Germany).
As long as your order is not being processed yet (you can see this in your customer account), it is still possible to change the delivery address. The important thing to note here is that it is not possible to change the country of destination. Please inform our customer service about the corrected address so that they can adapt your requested change. Feel free to contact us by email.
Delivering your order to a military address is unfortunately not possible due to DHL Express restrictions. A physical address must be specified here in order to guarantee delivery.
Unfortunately, delivering your order to a P.O. box is not possible due to DHL Express restrictions.
Have a quick look in the Wildling webshop to see if there is a “Notify me” button for the model of your choice. You can easily register there by entering your email address, and we will inform you as soon as the model is available in your size again. If there is no button alike, then it is likely that the model will not be restocked any time soon.
Unfortunately, we currently cannot offer items that are made to measure and by special request.
Gift cards & discount codes
The Wildling webshop offers digital gift cards starting at USD 10. Once you have purchased a gift card, it will be sent to you directly by email. These vouchers have no expiration date. It is possible to redeem more than one gift voucher per order. However, gift vouchers cannot be combined with other discount codes etc.
If you are registered as a crowdfunder at Wildling Shoes, this information is stored in your customer account. Once you enter your code, your discount will be automatically deducted from your order. If you have problems entering your information or are not sure which email address your crowdfunder account is registered with, please contact the Wildling customer service team.
Group discount – running wilder together
For those who want to share the Wildling feeling, there is a 20% discount for purchases of five or more pairs.
The discount is automatically applied before checkout once five or more pairs of shoes are in your cart. You do not need an extra code.
The discount is only applied to non-discounted shoes.
Changing & cancelling orders
Unfortunately, due to our shop system, it is not possible to reserve the shopping cart.
Currently it is not possible to combine two or more separate orders.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to change or add anything to an order that has already been placed. But you do have the following options:
1. Place another order
Learn more about our shipping costs here.
2. Cancel your current order
As long as your order has not yet been processed and packed, you can cancel it at any time.
You can find the cancellation option in your customer account under “Register returns” or by entering your order number and email address in the returns portal.
Shipping & delivery
We always do our best to ship your order as swiftly as possible so that it arrives within the delivery time indicated in the corresponding product description.
Because of our commitment to the environment, we ship your order together as one package. The delivery date is based on the item that has the longest delivery time.
As soon as your order is packaged and ready for shipment, you will receive a shipment notification via email including a tracking number, so you can track the progress of your package.
Please enter the tracking number (JD ... ) provided by us via email directly on the DHL Express International website.
This Wildling webshop ships to the United States of America and Canada exclusively via DHL Express.
Find all information regarding shipping on our dedicated shipping page.
Please contact our customer service team via email and send us photos of the flaws on your shoe. We put our heart and soul into developing our products, selecting materials, and ensuring the quality of workmanship. Delivering a well fitting, high quality minimal shoe has top priority for us. If, in spite of our best efforts, there should be any cause for complaint, we will work with you to find the best solution so that you can enjoy your Wildling shoes again as soon as possible.
Please always directly contact our customer service team via email if you have a complaint.
When you purchase a pair of Wildling shoes or any other Wildling article privately or second hand, we aren’t able to process a complaint for them directly because the warranty rights remain with the original buyer.
However, we have created a template to re-assign warranty rights. If the first buyer fills out the form in full, signs it, and sends it to us, we can process your request.
If you want to return a product from the USA or Canada, you can return the item within 30 days after receipt. The item must be unworn and in its original packaging.
Please proceed as follows:
1. Register your return in our returns portal
2. Print out the DHL Express label you received from us
3. Visit the DHL Express website
4. Select your country of residence (the flag at the top right)
5. Select NO when asked if you want to create another DHL Express label
6. Choose the option stating that you have a Waybill number
7. Enter the Waybill number found on your DHL Express label (without spaces)
8. Click NEXT
9. Enter the address where the package should be picked up
If you prefer to drop your parcel off at a post office near you, please select the option: "I'll take care of the shipping myself" in the returns portal.
Please be aware that shipping with DHL Express is quicker, cheaper and secured for your convenience.
After your return has been received at the Wildling warehouse, you will receive a confirmation email from the warehouse. Later you will receive a separate notification as soon as your payment has been refunded.
Currently we do not offer direct exchanges. However, you are welcome to cancel or return your current order and order your new chosen model from our webshop.
If you made your payment using PayPal, then you can sign up for the PayPal returns shipping refund program and get your returns costs refunded by PayPal up to USD 30 and up to 12 times a year. Terms and Conditions apply.
Please contact our customer service team for the required documents.
Sure you can. There is just one thing you need to be aware of: If you have already returned an item from an order, it is unfortunately not possible to generate another automatic DHL Express label through the Wildling returns portal.
If this is the case, please contact our customer service team in the chat or by email.We will be happy to create another label for you so that your products arrive safely back with us.
Yes, you are more than welcome to combine several returns in one package.
Register the return with most items using our returns portal or your customer account and please make sure to request the return label there. Then register your other return(s) the exact same way, using our portal, but in that case select the second option, "I will take care of the shipping myself". After doing so, you will receive a return form by email that you simply print out and enclose with the return. Next put everything in one box and book your pickup for the generated return label. You might also need to print out both return invoices (if you are living in a country that considers them dutiable goods) and place both of them on the outside of your parcel.
To book your pickup, please follow these steps:
1. Open the DHL Express pickup site
2. Select your country (by clicking the flag in the upper right corner)
3. Choose NO (since you already have a label)
4. Select "I have a DHL shipment number" and enter the waybill number from your label without spaces.
5. Press "Next" and fill in your pickup address.
If you have any further questions on this, please write an email to our customer service.
Your first return is free of charge. For every further return we charge a shipping fee of USD 9.90. This fee will be retained on refund.
If you have paid with PayPal, you have the option of having the costs reimbursed via the PayPal returns program.
If you send a complete order back to us, the USD 9.90 flat-rate shipping fee for that will be refunded in addition to the value of the goods. If you send back only parts of your order, the original shipping fee will not be refunded.