This post was sponsored by Baabuk, all thoughts my own.
The post-Christmas winter lull is hard to shake. It’s cold and dark but, with the absence of any holiday to look forward to, this time of year often descends into a time of waiting. Hibernation until the sun decides to show its face a little earlier and stick around for a while, until cold doesn’t feel bitter, and grey doesn’t seem like the only colour the sky has ever been.
I struggle with this time of year. I don’t believe in blue Monday, but I know that the build up for the holiday season often imbues me with a sense of enchantment (for the more conceptual stuff like love and goodwill to all, not the hyper-commercialisation), so when that feeling fades away and the cold remains, well it all feels kind of pointless.
But I also can’t just sit around waiting for winter to end. As I continue to work I also try to be gentle with myself at this time of year, to choose grace over feeling miserable. I remind myself that it’s ok if I haven’t overhauled my entire life in the first three weeks of January, that if it takes me a little longer to complete things that doesn’t mean they won’t get done, that if I’m exhausted I am allowed to actually listen to my body and take a day off now and again. I also remind myself that Spring will come back around, even when it feels like it won’t, and grey skies outside won’t be how it looks forever.
Amongst all of these feelings it seemed fitting that a colourful and cosy pair of slippers from Baabuk landed on my doorstep, a month and a half later than they were meant to thanks to the UK post office Christmas rush. It was completely unexpected, and completely brightened my day.
Already a proud owner of a pair of sneakers from Baabuk, these Pomobuk slippers are a welcome addition to my winter world, both warming my feet and infusing my daily routine with a splash of bright colour whilst also being sustainable and zero waste in their design.
Founded in 2013, Baabuk‘s original designs were inspired by traditional Valenki Russian boots, which used wool to create felted footwear that could withstand temperatures as cold as -40 degrees C (thank goodness, at least, that the UK isn’t that bad). Interested in both the insulating power of wool and its benefits as a natural, renewable and biodegradable material, Baabuk was created to preserve the traditions of shoe making whilst also embracing new innovations. Like Valenkis, Baabuk designs are felted in one piece, making them more durable, comfortable, and warm.
As a company Baabuk is a certified B-Corp, meaning they have to meet strict standards when it comes to supply chain, environmental impact and transparency. While their shoes are manufactured in Europe, their slippers use sustainably sourced wool from New Zealand before being ethically handcrafted in Nepal, where workers are paid 25% more than the average salary.
In true slow fashion style, it takes three days to craft a Baabuk shoe. Wool is transformed to felt through being manually rubbed with warm water and soap, which causes the fibres to intertwine and bundle up to form one shape. It’s next washed at a high temperature, naturally shrinking the wool by 30% and making it cohesive and virtually indestructible. The material is then hammered alongside constant brushing, making each shoe sturdy and water repellant, before finally being mounted onto a shoe mould to get the perfect shape. These shoes are left to dry naturally for at least two days, before the final decorative accents are added to each pair for character. It’s a careful and considered process, concerned with crafting a high quality product that will last a lifetime. It’s also a million miles away from churning out fast fashion that falls apart instantly, and that’s just how I like it.
POMOCA specialise in creating freeride and ski mountaineering skins, designed to help skiers ascending slopes by preventing skis from sliding backwards. POMOCA were keen to remove waste from their supply chain, instead finding a use for their unrecyclable waste and keeping it out of landfill. Through a partnership with Baabuk they created a way to upcycle these manufacturing offcuts into durable and versatile bottoms for a limited series of slippers, the Pomobuk.
I’ve touched upon this before, but the best kind of zero waste design isn’t just one that uses natural materials that can return to the earth. It’s also a design and manufacturing process that encourages cross-industry collaboration. Waste or by-products from one industry can be used by another, both creating an integrated process that results in no leftover waste and more closely mirroring the natural cycles of our ecosystems. The Pomobuk is another perfect example of this: one industry’s waste provides the perfect materials for another’s design, and the result is a product that not only is sustainable, but also performs well and is beautiful.
Because these slippers really are beautiful. Alongside their light grey exterior and warm and fuzzy interior, each sole is randomly crafted from Pomoca’s seven shades of skins depending on what waste is available. You don’t know which colour you’ll get until you open the box, but the element of surprise plus the mix of bright possibilities definitely encourages a sense of fun and lightheartedness, even on the coldest of days.
Myself and my Pomobuks have become basically inseparable since they arrived, and I’m pretty happy with that. When hustling through the cold and wind to get to a friends house there’s nothing better than triumphantly pulling these from my bag once I’m indoors. Shoes off, slippers on, and I immediately feel a bit cosier. They’re so comfortable and comforting, and they are a small but significant way to fight the harshness of winter on my body. They’re easy to wear, easy to walk around in, and never a problem. They’re a pretty perfect slipper.
So, while I eagerly await Spring and the return of the sun, I have something bright and cosy to add a little more cheer to my day, and to remind me to keep being kind with myself.
I think that’s all I can ask for right now, and really that isn’t so bad after all.