Our Project

Nature has been a source of inspiration for centuries and has provided everything that a man would ever need. The need to cope with the cold climate in the northern countries has produced some interesting inventions. After trying several ways to keep their feet warm, Russian peasants came up with the idea of using sheep wool to produce felted boots: the "Valenkis".

Wool, a natural and renewable fiber, is far better than synthetic material. It is not only an extremely comfortable fabric but also an excellent component for shoes. Baabuk uses 100% natural wool from healthy happy sheep to produce its shoes. Preserving the old Valenki tradition of shoe making and simultaneously incorporating an innovative design is our commitment. We deliver traditionally handcrafted natural shoes while keeping it trendy.

To know more about the various and surprising properties of wool, visit “Why Wool?”

"Our philosophy is one of transparency" - Valerie Jarrett

We exert conscious efforts to preserve the environment. Baabuk commits to using sustainable and renewable resources such as sheep wool or natural latex (soles of the slippers). The simplest and eco-friendliest felting process for the slippers is done by using mild soap, water and many hours of dedicated labor. This is the process that we apply in our workshop in Nepal to produce the slippers. This process is based on the old felting technique used to make Valenkis, Russian woolen boots used to fight the Siberian cold. This video will show you how Valenkis were handcrafted by Babushkas in the past: click here.

What makes a pair of Baabuk natural wool shoes different from any other shoes is the seamless and stitchless profile. This is due to the fact that the slipper is made of one piece only, thanks to the Valenki felting technique. As a matter of fact, anyone can use flat layers of wool and stitch them together to form a shoe. We chose a different path. The production process we have chosen is meticulous and delicate. It takes three days to create a pair of Baabuk but the outcome is exceptional. The Baabuk slippers are not only warm but also insanely comfortable and natural.

“No compromise!” says Dan! As quality is our main concern, we developed our own production site and designed innovative machines. We drew the plans for the machine prior to building them. The aim being to keep up with the high standard of quality that we are committed to delivering to our customers.

The shoe making process in four main steps:

  1. Tedious felting task: We take the time to manually rub our delicate wool with warm water and soap so that the wool fibers will intertwine and bundle up to form into one shape.
  2. Shrinking process: Once the wool is felted into the form desired, we toss it into the washing machine at a high temperature for several hours. This process will naturally shrink the wool by 30%, making it cohesive and virtually indestructible.
  3. Hammering Strategy: After shrinking, we will embark on the physically demanding task of hammering the wool shoe material alongside with constant brushing. This step will ensure that each shoe will become sturdy and has the property of being water repellent.
  4. Shaping and drying phase: This is the final step that each Baabuk shoe will have to go through. The shoes are mounted on the shoe mold to get into a perfect shape. Then, they dry naturally for at least two days. After those two days, the final decorative accents are added to give each pair its own Baabuk character.

Baabuk is more than just a shoe, it’s about people. The people working in the Baabuk factory in Nepal receive higher than average salaries, have good working conditions (breaks, legal number of days off, and are provided adapted working tools for example), and receive thorough training in the art of felting wool. We guarantee that no children work in the workshop and that there is an equal number of men and women in the staff. The village in which the factory is established benefits from the positive economic outcomes, as well as the job offers that it represents.   

On the other hand, the sneakers and Urban Woolers are made in Portugal. The wool used to make the sneakers comes from well-treated sheep from the natural park Serra da Estrela, northern Portugal.

“On the tops of the mountains, in the shadow of the Penhas Douradas, we admire the complicity between shepherd and flock, both bearing the same skin – wool – except that the wool of the shepherd's coat has taken on the colours of the land, of the cliffs, in a strong, warm, and protecting backdrop…” (Our partner)

The wool is firstly woven and then washed at high temperature for it to felt. From this point on, we can tailor each BAABUK sneakers. The felting technique is different from the slippers because we need a thinner and more flexible material.

We chose to produce the sneakers and Urban Woolers in Portugal as it is an important European source of wool and well-known for its know-how and expertise in shoemaking. Moreover, we collaborate with pro-active partners located in regions that suffered from unemployment due to rural exodus. They are willing to bring the region back to life and develop the wool industry to create jobs.

 

To produce the boot, we combined the know-how of the people in Nepal and the one from our collaborators in Portugal. This means that the lower part of the boot is made in the same way than the BAABUK slippers. Thus, the video above perfectly explains the production process and the various steps in order to get the first half of the boot. 

Once the lower part done, it is sent to our Portuguese collaborators who will stitch to it the final touches: the upper part, the sole, and the details that will make the boot even more durable and solid. For the upper part, the wool is firstly woven and then washed at high temperature for it to felt. We chose to assemble the boots in Portugal as it is an important European source of wool and well-known for its know-how and expertise in shoemaking. 

This boot is very challenging for shoe makers to assemble, as the lower part is made of a single piece. This being so, it makes it more complex and requires skilled workers in order to assemble the three pieces of the boot: the felted sock made of a single piece, the upper part, and the sole.

 

In Europe, the know-how regarding wool and the way of working it has changed a lot over the past years. This fabric was extensively used before the industrial revolution. Synthetic materials have slowly taken more and more importance in the fashion and textile industries.

Today in most developed countries, wool is burnt due to three main reasons: the decreasing demand regarding this natural fiber, the number people capable of transforming it diminishes as well, and lastly, it is too expensive for farmers to process wool in its raw state.  

In Switzerland, approximatively 850 tons of wool are produced per year. About 100 tons are burnt! A big majority of the remaining wool is exported, not being manufactured within the boundaries.

Currently, we are working on the acquisition of a fair-trade certification for our products and company in general. This label would strengthen the way we communicate our values and help us share with our customers our good faith.

Check out our Supplier code of conduct . 

    Sizing Chart

     


    To find your perfect size, please use our Size Finder page.

    This is the BAABUK sizing chart for our sneaker/urban wooler collection

    Choosing the right shoes online can be difficult, in addition to regular sizing, we offer additional measurements in the chart below so that you can measure your foot to get the perfect fit.

    Note that our shoes are made of wool. Wool is a stretchable material that will adapt itself to your foot. I general we recommend that if you have a larger feet or if you are in between two sizes  to take the size above (e.g EU 42 1/2 -> 43).

    Size chart :

    EU Size

    Lengths (mm)

    Girth (mm)

    35
    217
    23
    36
    224
    23
    37
    230
    24
    38
    237
    24
    39
    243
    24
    40
    247
    25
    41
    254
    25
    42
    260
    26
    43
    267
    26
    44
    274
    27
    45
    281
    27
    46
    287
    28

     

    In order to choose your perfect pair just measure the length and girth of your feet.

    To measure the length you can put your feet on a with page of paper and draw the line in front and at the back of your feet (the highest point at the front and at the back). The length can vary between 1 and 2 mm. To measure the girth you will circle your feet at the ball part. Check this link how to measure the ball girth.

    If your feet is large we suggest that you choose the size above that is matching to the girth given in our chart.

    The pictures below will help you with these measurements : 

    Size Chart Baabuk

    Please not that if the size you choose doesn't fit you perfectly you can exchange your shoes.

    Slipper Sizing:

    The slipper are hand-felted in one piece without any stitching. The advantage of these kind of slippers is that with the time, your feel will continue to felt the slippers and they will take the shape of your feet.

    We have cut the opening of the shoes a little bit tighter. For the kids and female sizes we have cut a litle 'V' cut to make it easier to entre the shoe. In case you feel its still too tight, just cut with a scisor the 'V' a little bit bigger. That is only possible with hand-felted wool slippers.

    Converting US/EU Sizes? Use our Size Finder page.

    Conditions : Please contact us if you want to exchange the shoes. Once we have validate your request you can ship us the unused shoe (on your charges). We will ship you back a new pair (on our charges).

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