Wandering to a Different Tune


Originally published 03/2019

A Legend in the Making...

The story of The Original Wanderer and the creation of The Sole Workshop go hand in hand. It was our first model stemming from the desire to create the best flip flop / sandal that would suit those of us who demand more. It was something we had searched for but could never seem to find. It needed to be comfortable and stand the test of time, as well as look great and fit even better. The Original Wanderer took over a year to perfect and while not the easiest sandal to construct, every component that goes into it has a well thought out and tested place in its design.

Much of the inspiration for the Original Wanderer actually came from boot design. A good pair of leather boots will last a decade or more with only a bit of care and the occasional need of a resole. Why can't we apply that to our sandals? As it turns out, we could. We studied boot construction, different types of welts, what makes a good one vs. a bad one. It all came down to choice of materials and the way in which they are constructed.

 

"A good pair of leather boots will last a decade or more with only a bit of care and the occasional need of a resole. Why can't we apply that to our sandals? As it turns out, we could."

Quality Leather

We knew leather was the obvious choice. No other natural material shares the qualities of leather for strength, durability, and comfort. It wears well, doesn't give blisters like other materials, and it rightfully has a well earned place in the footwear world. Aside from working with leather since I was a kid, I personally have always searched for a suitable replacement for an old pair of leather flip flops I once had but could only find cheaply made, ill fitting, or just uncomfortable models on the shelves of today's surf shops.

So we gave it leather. The most comfortable leathers we could find that would hold up to everyday use. We increased the thickness on places of high wear to extend its life. We based our sole design upon 3 different layers of leather, each with a specific function.

The upper layer is for comfort and this is the first difference you will feel as you put them on. We love using leathers here that are soft to the touch yet robust and we generally like them to have a bit of texture. The middle layer is the frame which the whole sandal is built around and the foundation for its strength. It is a band of thick leather circling the entire sole. The lower layer serves as the base for which the Vibram (tm) sole is attached and this layer permits the ease of a resole to extend the sandal's life. The three layers form to create a solid footbed and enclose a special cushioning inside which adds to the comfort.

Saddle Stitch

Handmade leather flip flops with saddle stitch by The Sole Workshop
The most time consuming element that goes into each pair of our Original Wanderer is the hand stitching. We feel it is essential to the strength and durability of this model and it is something that a machine cannot replicate.

For this we use a waxed linen thread and the infamous "Saddle Stitch". The saddle stitch is a traditional stitch which cannot unravel due to the way it interweaves through the material. What this means is that if a stitch should break, it cannot spread further because it is locked in by the stitches on either side.

Each hole is meticulously hand punched following the contour of the sole with a mallet and chisel. Then the thread with 2 needles is passed simultaneously in opposing movements through all the layers. Each stitch becomes interlocked as the next one passes and the wax seals them giving an extra measure of resistance. The final result is a stitch which is not only aesthetically pleasing but ready to stand the test of time.

The Leather Strap

If you want to make a comfortable sandal, then you can't overlook the strap. Again, we select the best full grain leathers here and we make sure that this leather is the only thing in contact with your foot. This includes the toe post which is typically the area of discomfort for a lot of people with thong sandals. By using quality leather here we eliminate those problems and many customers have been surprised just how comfortable and easy to wear they are from day 1.

When we looked at all the places that flip flops fail, most of the time it was the strap. Inside our straps, we have added reinforcement for strength and most importantly, to prevent stretching. We want your size to remain true for as long as you own it. When sizing your pair, the strap is not just bonded in the footbed but it is hand stitched as well for an extra measure of strength. This is yet another place where we go the extra mile so that you can too!

"We want your size to remain true for as long as you own it."

The Vibram (Tm) Sole

It is no secret that Vibram (tm) makes some of the best rubber soles and they were the obvious choice for this model.  The sole we have chosen provides both traction and cushioning and is extremely lightweight.  The tread has grip with its honeycomb pattern yet it has a smooth profile to keep with the sandal's aesthetic.  The 4mm thickness means it provides additional shock absorption but won't compress over time.  When the tread eventually wears down, a replacement of the same type gives this sandal a whole new life again without giving up the molded in comfort of the footbed that you have already broken in and come to love.

The Result

Our Original Wanderer is unlike any other flip flop / sandal ever built. It was designed to tackle many issues and as a result of the process became something that is very well balanced. It is comfortable yet rugged. Its construction is over built while at the same time it manages to remain lightweight. There are elements of the styling which give it a look of class yet it is casual. The Original Wanderer is the go anywhere, do anything sandal that is ready for any adventure you choose to take it on and will remain a good friend for many years to come!

The Original Wanderer is made completely to order in your exact size and carries a lifetime guarantee for the life of the materials. To check out the current colors and styles click here.