Do you enjoy walking barefoot? I know I do, yet, walking barefoot without protective footwear isn’t always feasible. I recently learned about Vivobarefoot, a leading global producer of barefoot shoes, from a friend, and from what I have learned about them, it seems to me these makers of soles have created a company that has soul.
Vivobarefoot was launched as a stand-alone brand in 2012 by seventh generation shoemakers Galahad and Asher Clark on the premise of making shoes that allow feet to do their natural thing—the way they’ve done for tens of thousands of years. Since its launch, the UK-based Vivobarefoot has become a pioneer in the barefoot shoe movement. In its efforts to continuously deliver the best-possible products, Vivobarefoot traveled deep into the Kalahari Desert—home to the remaining San people—to spend time with one of the oldest cultures on Earth and some of the last persistence hunters.
Looking to bring their wisdom back to modern feet and help revive the ancient art of sandal making, Vivobarefoot partnered with Ju/’Hoansi community in Namibia to create handmade bushman SAN-dals, which will be produced locally and sold in limited quantity via their recently launched Kickstarter campaign for the handmade original bushman SAN-dals. The 30-day campaign is set to raise $100,000 to produce a limited edition of SAN-dals in Namibia, to help revive the ancient bushman craft, support the local community and bring traditional bushman sandals to the U.S. and global consumers. Kickstarter pledge levels range from $15 to $7,200, with all profits to be reinvested back into the local Namibian community to maintain the village, purchase staple foods, and create a famine fund for drought years.
The shoes, crafted from ethically-sourced eland skin, create one of the thickest and most durable leathers in Africa, the SAN-dals are incredibly durable and were initially designed to protect from the burning hot sand and sharp thorns. The edges are hand-sewn and sealed with natural beeswax, and the embossed animal footprint on the sole gives the shoe extra grip, abrasion resistance, and unique personality to each pair.
“The human foot has all the technology needed to survive and thrive,” said Galahad Clark, Founder, and MD of Vivobarefoot. “Vivobarefoot embraces the ancient wisdom that humans are meant to move barefoot while applying modern technology to create innovative and truly revolutionary footwear. With the design and barefoot technology behind the SAN-dals complete, we’re turning to the Kickstarter community to help create a sustainable grassroots enterprise where the profits will be invested directly back into the local community in Namibia.”
A small number of sandals have been made as part of the first exclusive batch and are now being worn by the locals in the Nyea Nyea conservation area of North West Namibia. SAN-dal preorders start at $150, offering early backers the opportunity to be one of the first to own the original handmade sandals. Other price levels include embellished sandals, jewelry and more. The $5,000 level of investment, for instance, offers a six-day adventure in the wildest parts of Namibia—a chance to walk in the ancient footsteps of the San in the original home of the SAN-dal and learn their distinct survival skills.
The finished product will begin shipping in June 2016.