Pisher Award Goes to …

A couple of months ago I addressed what I call the Pisher Paradox in the fiber world.  It came to mind as I read an article online from Bloomberg (3/1/16) titled “Why Shoe Startups are Making Sneakers from Wool.”  (Bloomberg is a privately-held company in New York City involved with financial software, data and media.  Thor subscribes to the magazine, and a version of the article is available to non-subscribers online.)

Those of us who work with wool just have to love the presumptions painted by Kyle Stock’s article where he mentions five companies who have or are introducing sneakers with wool tops:  Allbirds (New Zealand), Baabuk (Switzerland), Mahabis (Britain), Nike (U.S.) and Converse (U.S., now a Nike subsidiary).  Stock used phrases – both his and and others’ – referring to using wool in shoe products as “novel,” “innovative” and “new materials.”

AllbirdShoeAllbirds CEO Tim Brown is a bit late (alarmingly) to the party:  He “couldn’t help but notice all the amazing qualities of merino wool. In fact, it made him wonder why such an incredible, sustainable resource had never been used in footwear before.


Tim Brown’s team didn’t know that felted and fulled footwear have been donned by people for many (many) years?

Would not a little research have revealed Daniel Green‘s manufacturing of felt shoes and slippers starting in the late 19th century U.S.

Had not this shoe startup team heard of Haflinger or Dankso, both well known for their use of boiled and/or felted wool in making high-quality slippers and clogs?


BaabukSneakerValenkiBaabuk notes that it is borrowing from the past when it states that it combines “old Valenki Russian tradition with innovative stylish designs of today …”  (For more information about felted Valenkis, read these interesting articles in The Moscow Times and U.K.’s Daily Mail.)

Mahabis almost tips its proverbial hat to the fact that their felted shoes aren’t really that novel of an idea when it  Mahabis_slipperdescribes their work as “combining scandinavian design principles and european craftsmanship [sic].”  The Mahabis felted slipper comes with an attachable/detachable rubber sole, which quickly transforms an indoor shoe to an outdoor one – not to mention it also has a “collapsible heel for easy slip-on and … heel comfort.”  (If I can ever find these in the U.S., I would like to try them!)

ChuckWoolConverse offers the Chuck Taylor All Star Woolrich: “This season we’ve taken archived, classic Woolrich patterns and reinterpreted them with bold new colors. Wool and rubber combine to create durable, warm sneakers grounded in the classic Chuck Taylor silhouette.”

Nike’s Pendleton Collection and its Warm and Dry Collection offers an array of customizations to sneakers utilizing NikeFlyknitwool.  (That said, they all seem to sport a lot of both leather and rubber.)  Nike boasts that its Flyknit sneakers utilize “a proprietary process that knits the upper of a shoe with a single fiber.”

As an aside, two points worth noting from Stark’s article related to the plastic microfibers that I wrote about in my last post:

  1. Footnote 2:  “Nike’s Flyknit sneakers aren’t all natural; they are now woven with polyester from recycled plastic bottles.” 
  2. “Brown [CEO of Allbirds] said big brands like Nike don’t use wool more widely because it is relatively expensive.  Spinning up fibers and fabrics from petroleum offers a far better profit match.”

So, microfibers aside, who gets the Pisher Award?






About sweatyknitter

Fiber art devotee, author, and amateur artisan bread baker.
This entry was posted in Miscellany and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Pisher Award Goes to …

  1. Thank you! I just posted today (an explanation)!


  2. Debbie says:

    Miss your posts and hope all is well!


  3. salpal1 says:

    thought I would check in as I haven’t heard a word from the Sweaty knitter in a few months – hope all I swell with you and that you are just researching some fantastic post, not sick in bed.


  4. Susan says:

    Crazy. when I bought a pair of Sorrel boots ??? years ago they had felted liners. Boots finally wore out. Had to buy new Sorrel and Damn…….the liner was some kind of a fake ‘wool’ liner that was NOT warm. BUT, my waste not want not habits did me in good stead. I had kept the real felt liners and swapped them out for the old ones and am happy. I too have some felted wool slip on clogs and love them. Thanks for the post.


  5. ethgran says:

    The Vikings used wool footwear created by nalbinding. The Egyptians created footwear that looked like felted wool. Come to think of it early man probably created footwear by boiling wool. Funny how things get Re-invented over and over again.


  6. salpal1 says:

    As the saying goes, everything old is new again. But this seems a little strange, I have to say. I wore wool clogs thirty years ago and thought they were old-fashioned.


  7. babywren says:

    I have to go with Allbirds and their surprise that no one thought of this use of wool until now!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Belinda O says:

    Amazing that someone from New Zealand would “discover” merino wool.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s