By the end of Summer, most of us start looking for shoes that will stand the harsher conditions of Autumn and Winter. This is especially true for kids’ footwear, as the little ones spend more time outdoors, playing freely with little care for the wet state of their feet at the end of the day.
Trying to make natural waterproof shoes
Waterproofing was at the forefront of our plans when we launched our first Mukishoes Kids collection in the Winter of 2020. That time we opted for a TEX membrane, a very common waterproofing technology, which was added to our fabric shoes.
While this is a popular solution, however, we found that it not only came with construction challenges that impacted the design of our Kids barefoot collection, but also proved to have varying degrees of success for us, both in short and long term. The main issues that we found were connected to the attachment of the sole – to ensure waterproofing we’d need to use only glue without any stitching, not to pierce the TEX membrane. After a lot of testing we concluded that it would only be possible not to stitch the sole by adopting another kind of shoe construction, which would result in a much stiffer and harder shoe. This loss of flexibility is unacceptable for us.
Since then, we have been looking into several possibilities to add impermeability to our Kids and Grown-Ups minimalist shoes. Yet, as of Fall 2021, we haven’t found a finishing treatment or material – besides plastic – that could achieve that effect naturally and safely.
In fact, in order to be waterproofed, shoes are often bathed or sprayed with PFCs’, polyfluorinated chemicals, which are harmful for the environment and for our health.
Given this, we have decided to rely merely on the natural water repellent properties of our materials like chrome-free leather, cork and to some extent, burel wool, choosing not to promote our products as being waterproof. The development of a totally waterproof shoe is still one of our goals, but we can only do it once we ensure the fulfillment of all our safety and environmental criteria.
Water resistant or waterproof – What is the difference?
There are several levels of water protection used in clothing, footwear and even technology, from water resistant to waterproof.
Water resistant products can take water without damage, but they offer less protection to the user, while waterproof products can be completely submerged and keep both the inside and outside intact and dry.
Our leather and cork shoes stand in the middle, as they are water repellent, meaning that the water will not permeate the shoes except for the aforementioned vulnerable areas. Because of these vulnerabilities, however, we choose not to market them as waterproof.
At the moment, we are still looking for the best non-toxic, practical and longlasting way to make waterproof barefoot shoes. As always, we promise to continue looking for that ideal material or product that will allow these shoes to become a reality.
In the meantime, we recommend our new waterproofer and beeswax leather wax to make your shoes repel water (do not use the waterproofer on burel/wool) to stay as protected as possible during the rainy days to come.