2012 has come to an end and 2013 is here. With the fresh new year I wanted to write a little bit about our history, about what is going on now, and make a few exciting announcements for the future.
When we first began selling sandals there were only a few other small companies making huaraches. All of them used laces and attached to the sole with a knot. Unshoes was the first company to use webbing straps and also the first to eliminate the knot underfoot. At that time there was nothing else out there like Unshoes.
Slowly the leather and hemp laces that used to be the standard have nearly disappeared. Webbing straps and countersunk strap attachments have become standard features on nearly all minimalist sandals. In the last year several new huarache style sandals have appeared on the market. This is an exciting time for those who love minimal sandals!
With so many new minimal sandal companies appearing, we want to highlight a few things that set Unshoes apart from the crowd. First of all, we are the only company that has fixed ankle straps. What does this mean? Other designs have one main strap that threads directly through the sole itself and then up and around the heel. It allows the sandal to be adjusted to fit the foot. The idea is that the sole lifts up off the ground and doesn’t make contact with dirt but that may not always be the case. There are several reasons why we use a fixed ankle strap rather than going directly through the sole.
1. The fixed ankle straps can be plasticized and reinforced with rubber where they make contact with the ground. This allows for more durability. It keeps the main strap from getting dirty and wearing out. 2. It allows for the fastest possible adjustment. If the strap goes through the sole, the entire lacing system needs to be pulled and adjusted any time the sandals need adjustment. It is a simple and effective lacing system. 3. The ankle straps hold the main strap up where it comes across the heel and is less likely to fall off of the heel. 4. Lastly, we think it just plain looks better. It creates a more contemporary look than the traditional huarache.
The elastic suspension system used on our Wokova Feather model is another distinct attribute of Unshoes. It is very unobtrusive, yet it is effective. The Feather sandal hugs the foot and flexes with it without being restrictive.
Also, our Pah Tempe model is still very unique. There is nothing else like it in minimal footwear. It features a classic over-the-toe strap design and does not require anything between the toes. This sandal is the most secure model so it works well on very steep terrain and in water. It is popular for technical trail running and for backpacking. We plan to introduce the Pah Tempe in standard sizing into retail stores later.
The first exciting thing we have coming up in 2013 is pink webbing for our Wokova Feather model. Many ladies have expressed the desire for pink. The webbing we use was originally developed for rock climbing and also used by the military. Needless to say, pink isn’t exactly a standard in mil-spec manufacturing. Right now we are waiting for a color sample from the lab. We should receive that any day now. Once we approve it, then manufacturing will begin.
We have also been testing a new cork footbed material. Cork is actually not new to the footwear industry at all. In fact it has been used in footwear long before the “modern shoe” became mainstream.
Cork is a very highly sustainable material since it is make from the bark of a tree and grows back. It is biodegradable and can be recycled. Any sandal will eventually begin to stink but the cork footbed should help. It is naturally an antimicrobial material and because the foot will not be in direct contact with raw rubber, it should sweat less. The cork is mixed with rubber for added strength. These footbeds will be offered as an extra option to some of our sandal models. We are still testing different compounds but we expect to offer them very soon.
The last (and most dramatic) announcement for 2013 is that we are developing a new line of sandals specifically for women. More and more options are becoming available for minimalist footwear, but nearly all of them are focused on running or fitness. There are a few closed toe options for casual wear, but there is nothing really cute for women to wear in more formal situations. Ever since I began wearing minimal footwear I noticed a difference and I have felt bad for women who wreck their feet because of social norms. Our goal is to develop a line of sandals for women that can be used in the office, on a date, at church, or any other situation where minimal footwear would normally be out of the question. Hopefully some of you women can replace your high heels with minimal dress sandals! We’ll write a blog post later with more details but here is a little sneak peek for any interested.
2012 has been a great year, but we are very excited in the changes we’ll be making! Our goal is to continue improve our products and better serve our customers. Cheers.