Is wool a good material for shoes? Many footwear designers will tell you the answer is a definite yes. Wool resists stains, dirt and odour better than many other fabrics, and is strong and resilient. The International Wool Textile Organisation (IWTO) explores the benefits of wool in shoe-making and takes a look at some of the innovative woollen footwear designs on the market today.
The Benefits of Wool Shoes
Wool is probably not the first fabric that comes to mind when you think of footwear, but many reasons make wool an excellent choice. As well as being soft and warm, wool is also breathable and effectively resists odour and wicks away moisture. It has natural climate control, keeping your feet warm in winter and cool in summer. It is also hypoallergenic. From an environmental point of view, wool is also sustainable and natural. The natural elasticity of wool means that it forms to your feet for a snug , comfortable fit.
Many shoe manufacturers have recognised the value of wool and are creating comfortable, durable and fashionable shoes using the this natural fabric.
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Swedish footwear designer Icebug specialises in high-end, sustainable outdoor shoes. Their popular walking and lifestyle design, the Eide, features a mono-material upper made from a felted wool blend from Woolpower. With clean, simple, sneaker-inspired design, the Eide offers superior comfort and natural thermo-regulating qualities. The felted wool is made by upcycling scrap from Woolpower’s clothes production. The wool upper only has one layer of material, minimizing the use of glue and different materials.
Norway’s Kastel Shoes has made various shoe designs using both Norwegian wool and merino wool from New Zealand. Andres Malo Dyb, the company’s Founder and Creative Director, says: “For us, we were incredibly excited to see the result of our shoes in Norwegian wool. The fact that it is so strong and resilient, which for certain other products is a disadvantage, is perfect for footwear.”
Kastel’s strength as a brand has been making shoes that handle Nordic weather conditions better than regular sneakers. Kastel’s team realised that materials provided by nature can far outperform membrane and other synthetic waterproofing.
“This is why we decided to look into wool,” says Andres Malo Dyb. And Kastel is continuing to look even deeper into ways to treat wool with natural oils and minerals to give even better protection without using any petrol based ingredients.
“Our industry has been trying for so long to conquer nature with our technological advances and then we have sheep who have been repelling water for thousands of years right in front of our noses!”
See for yourself: the next time you are in the market for footwear that is comfortable, durable and sustainable, give wool shoes a try.
Learn More About Wool and All Its Uses and Benefits
Wool continues to prove that it is a diverse material that can be used for multiple purposes. For more information on wool as a high-performance fibre, click here.
Now Read: Wool and Soil: How Wool Gives Back to the Environment