Episode 23 : Wildling Tanuki Mori
Updated: Oct 7
Wildlings are a shoe company based in Germany, which has fascinated me since the beginning of my barefoot journey. With an aesthetic based on somewhat of a Japanese/Pagan/Tribal/Studio Ghibli hybrid, I felt a little captivated by this vision of theirs. They take something as clinical as a shoe company, and recreate it into something quite magical. Their mission, to ReWild ourselves back in to our primitive/childish roots.... I put to test a model from their 2020 range - The Tanuki Mori. Tanuki - is a Japanese Racoon Dog, whilst Mori is the Japanese word for Forest (Makes sense as the shoe colour is Forest Green). The Tanuki range is available in a variety of colours:
Niji (Rainbow) - Natural White
Mori (Forest) - Teal Green
Yoru (Night) - Black
Umi (Sea) - Navy
Suna (Sand) - Natural White with Grey sole
Asahi (Morning sun) - Signal Red
Keshi HiTop - Deep Red
Each model within the Tanuki range boasts the same innovative materials. A Washi upper - which is an antibacterial/permeable-paper/polyester fabric, a 50% recycled outsole, and an insole which is made up of 20% walnut shells. They come with optional elastic laces, available in sizes EU36-48, and are priced at approx. 83 Euro. Their website can be accessed here.
(Disclaimer: These shoes were given to me to review, however my opinion is my own).
Company Overview: Anna and Ran and their three children are the starting point and inspiration for this exciting and exciting journey. This is their story: “We lived in Israel for 12 years and our children were born there. They grew up barefoot in their first years of life and have always impressed us - with their agile, confident and powerful movements. In 2013 we moved back to Germany. The first shoes had to be bought in autumn, but we could not find a pair, even among the most expensive children's shoes, that our children could continue to walk with and that they wanted to wear with their usual feet. There seemed to be something fundamentally wrong with traditional children's shoes. A look at the statistics confirmed our fears - 98% of all children are born with healthy feet, but only a few adults still have healthy feet. This is usually due to poorly fitting and incorrectly designed shoes. High time for a new concept and a new generation of children's shoes! As a sports therapist, trainer and passionate barefoot runner, Ran has always been a fanatic when it comes to natural movement and biomechanical backgrounds. Anna loves the challenge of implementing new ideas and giving Wildling Shoes its very own identity through appropriate communication. Together with last builders, shoe designers and modellers, we have developed a shoe that offers a completely new concept from the fit over the materials to the sole. In contrast to conventional approaches, which assume that the foot must be held, supported and guided, we are convinced that the foot is naturally healthy and only needs the opportunity to develop vigorously. That is why our shoe leaves the foot as undisturbed as possible - like a second skin that protects against injuries and weather influences, but otherwise has no influence on the foot and its functions. ”
Extremely light and flexible
Foot shaped - One of the widest shoes I own
They look very unique - From the materials in the upper, all the way to their split sole
The packing materials have a lot of thought put into them - Reusable sticky tap, additional laces
Overall, a pleasant package
Sizing and Fit: My foot is approximately 292mm, with my 2nd toe being the longest. Initially I went for the 48, as the size range is 29.51-30.18, however it was much too long. The 47 was perfect at 28.84-29.51. Measurement guide is available Here. The volume in the Tanuki is quite deep, and they're one of the widest shoes I own. The outside area around the big toe is quite straight, and the toe box is square, so there is ample room for a natural toe splay. I would be interested in seeing what the 46 would be like for fit, out of curiosity.
The upper is made from a fabric called Washi. Its a combination of paper and polyester - It feels like a canvas type material. Its surprisingly smooth and easy to dry. Its also highly flexible, and no problems were observed.
The insole is all made from Washi, however the foam is Lunatar - a mixture of EVA and walnut shells. It's completely removable, and has a nice amount of padding.
The sole is split diagonally and is modelled on a Japanese Ninja shoe. Its made from synthetic rubber (50% recycled) and 20% cork. The sole is one of the most flexible I've ever come across, and has amazing ground feel and control. This is probably attributed to the split? The only issue is that not all of the sole covers the bottom of the foot - the upper makes up part of the sole, which could prove to be an issue for water and mud.
Performance: I use the Tanuki as a daily shoe. They look clean yet playful, and I only wore them in this setting to compliment the Wildlings theme (: I've had the Tanuki soaked with puddles a couple of times (by accident), my socks weren't affected, and they dry amazingly quick. They feel soft and warm inside, yet very breathable, and the outer material doesn't affect the foot anatomy whatsoever - In regards to pinching etc. The major upside to the Wildlings is the sole. At 2.5-3.5mm it's quite thin, yet the material composition combined with the insole, feels as though your walking on clouds. In addition to this, the diagonal split on the sole adds a more flexibility to the shoe, and the width accommodates your foot making it feel like such a natural feeling. The only issue I could foresee is mud, dirt and sharp debris - as it leaves the upper exposed.
Technical Specifications: Upper: Stretch Washi (75% paper, 25% polyester) Sole: 80% synthetic rubber with 50% recycled content, 20% cork Insole: Washi (75% paper, 25% polyester) and Lunatur (80% EVA * and 20% walnut shells) 2.5mm thick Weight: 56-151g Drop: 0 mm Stack Height: 2.5 mm (36 - 41), 3.5 mm (42 - 48) outsole + 2.5mm Washi insole
Conclusion: Wildlings captivated me from the get go... From their clever marketing, right down to every detail within their packaging - I'm convinced there was a little bit of that magic sprinkled within that shoebox. The Tanuki Mori has such a unique aesthetic to it, yet is also leagues ahead when it comes to barefoot feel and sustainability. One of my favourite shoes I have ever worn!