Making connections - 150 kilometers close
The Perto model is made to warm our feet through the winter while telling a story of closeness. Perto tells of places, people and ecosystems that create connections and enable closeness.
The starting point: a renaturalized stretch of land, a safe habitat for shepherds and their sheep as well as for wild wolves. A place that creates links between raw materials and product, between the Wildling Perto and the wool needed for its production.
From the intact ecosystem...
We found this place in Portugal. Our partner Rewilding Portugal is there working for a return to the natural, for coexistence between humans and wildlife, for animal welfare and intact ecosystems. Among others, also for the Iberian wolf, whose comeback also plays a central role for local shepherds and their sheep.
...to the value chain...
The collaboration between Wildling and Rewilding Portugal has resulted in a wild yet homey microcosm: A local value chain that encompasses everything within the small radius of just 150 kilometers, from sheep rearing and shearing to washing, spinning and weaving the wool to manufacturing the finished shoes.
…to the shoe.
In Portuguese, "Perto" means "close", and so it is obvious that the Wildling, born from a value chain of proximity, bears precisely this name. So let's feel welcome to come closer, take a look into this little cosmos and explore all the stories that are created within a mere 150 kilometers.
Rewilding Portugal x Wildling – Anna’s Journey
The idea of regenerative action has connected Wildling with the nature conservation organization Rewilding Europe for years. This goal now finds a new form in the cooperation with Rewilding Portugal for the Perto model.
At the beginning of Perto, there was a journey. Wildling founder Anna visited the Rewilding Portugal team and together they roamed the Côa Valley, one of the regions where Rewilding Portugal is actively involved in renaturation. In conversation with the Rewilding Portugal team, Anna learned that their work in the Côa Valley focuses on, among other things, a herd protection initiative to help the local shepherds establish a peaceful coexistence with the wolves.
Wolves and wool?
In order to enable a good coexistence in an intact ecosystem, among other things, guard dogs and fence building materials are needed, as well as educational work to create more acceptance for the wolves.
Anna was not only able to explore the Côa Valley during her visit to Portugal, but she also got to know shepherds personally who are part of the program and gained an insight into their way of life.
Working for a wilder world
The Perto model is an autumn/winter Wildling with a special history. It owes its creation to the collaboration between Wildling and Rewilding Portugal. In his guest article, Fernando Teixeira, Communications Officer at Rewilding Portugal, describes the work of his team and the challenges of engaging in renaturation and regeneration.
How a local value chain emerges
"How can Wildling and Rewilding Portugal join forces and contribute to the regenerative transformation?" This question accompanied Wildling founder Anna every step of the way during her visit to Portugal.
And then the answer was actually quite obvious: many fall/winter Wildlings are made of wool. Why not buy and process wool from shepherds inside the Côa Valley? "If Wildling buys the otherwise hard-to-sell wool at a very fair price, then the shepherds will benefit from this additional source of income," says Anna's idea. From this initial idea, many other questions and challenges arose for Anna, such as:
If we buy wool here, how can we process it?
"Through Rewilding Portugal, we were able to get in touch with a wool laundry and spinning mill. Very few wool laundries still exist in Europe, so it's very fortunate that there is one right there locally," Anna reflects. The spinning mill supplies the nearby Ecola weaving mill, with which Wildling already collaborates for other models.
"This meant that the entire wool supply chain was secured regionally: from raw material to sorting, washing and spinning to the weaving mill, and then from the weaving mill the finished textile goes directly to Wildling production, which has been located in Portugal since our very first shoe," Anna explains. "So we've managed to fit all the stages of the supply chain into a manageable area within a radius of just 150 kilometers. And it all comes together in the Perto as a shoe."
Rewilding Portugal is the initial spark for our close collaboration with the shepherds in the Côa Valley.
The wool of the shepherds from the Côa Valley in Portugal makes Perto a warm winter companion for our feet.
The wool for Perto is washed and spun at the Tavares wool laundry. A stroke of luck: There are only a few such companies left in Europe.
The upper fabric for Perto is traditionally woven at Ecolã, one of the oldest artisanal family businesses in Portugal.
In the Portuguese production facilities where all Wildling models are created, the wool fabric from the Côa Valley is transformed into true Wildlings.
More than just a shoe
Perto is more than a warm shoe - Perto connects people and places, recounts the story of peaceful coexistence and the magic of closeness.