Our slippers are felted from a combination of Merino wool and wools local to our makers. This fiber diversity ensures a longer lasting product as the combination of coarse and fine fibers are able to lock together better during the felting process. The Merino wool for Nootkas Astoria slippers is sourced exclusively from New Zealand, the remaining wool is sourced locally in Nepal. Our Mongolian made slippers are felted with locally sourced Mongolian Merino and native sheep wool.
As a country New Zealand has banned mulesing and has passed a number of strict anti-cruelty laws making it among the safest places in the world to source raw wool. Our Mongolian wool is purchased from nomadic sheep herders. These herders depend on sheep for their livelihood and treat them like part of the family. They relocate their families each season to find new grazing areas for their sheep. We work closely with our suppliers to ensure our wool is coming from humane, cruelty free farms and nomads.
While most of our wool slippers contain wool that has been colored prior to felting, we do carry a selection of colors that is 100% natural and completely free of dyes. The colors of these slippers represent the natural color of the sheep's wool and we call these slippers "Nootkas Naturals." Visit the Nootkas Natural Collection.
The wool in Nootkas slippers is minimally processed leaving many of the natural features of the wool intact. Our wool is cleaned using a gentle soap, removing dirt, while leaving many of the natural oils and lanolin in the fiber. Strips of raw wool are placed in a cross hatched pattern and are rubbed by hand with soap and water to combine the layers. This is done dozens of times per slipper and creates a thick piece of wool called a "sock." The wool "socks" are again felted using agitation and water. This creates a virtually indestructible, thick textile that can be shaped into a slipper by stretching it around a shoe form called a "shoes last."
These slipper forms are then allowed to dry in the sun for up to 3 days. The result is a slipper that is thick, seamless and has some special properties that enable it to hold in heat exceptionally well. The felting process creates a dense textile that has tiny micro-pockets of air all throughout. Air is nature's greatest insulator. This old world method keeps the wool as close to its natural state as possible, passing along all the benefits of natural wool to you!
All production on our Astoria slippers happens in a Fair Trade Certified facility in Nepal. Our facility is very clean, treats employees well, pays a fair wage and provides stable employment in a remote region where good jobs can be hard to come by. Our Nepalese workshop is committed to eco-friendly, sustainable production and utilizes solar power for much of its energy needs. Our partners in Mongolia are also Fair Trade certified and pay a pair, living wage, providing much needed jobs and fine wool products for the local economy. We are proud to work with felting companies who value human rights, safety and the environment as much as we do.
Nootkas (pronounced like foot-kuhs) found its inspiration thanks in part to the rainy Pacific Northwest and its grey, drizzly seasons that are spent indoors. Similar in climate to many Nordic countries, but with much more rain. The Pacific Northwest inspires a certain level of cozy satisfaction with staying indoors, a sentiment akin to what the Danish call "Hygge."
After spending time with family in Scandinavia and Northern Europe, we became familiar with the concept of a house shoe or house slipper. The slippers are traditionally left in the entryway and are swapped with your street or work shoes when you get home.
We took this practice back home, but couldn't find the perfect house slipper...and we tried them all! We wanted a classic shape, minimalist styling with breathable, natural wool that was warm, soft and fuzzy, not dense and stiff like many boiled wool slippers. After trying and failing to find the perfect wool slipper, we decided to make it ourselves. We hope you will enjoy your slippers as much as we've enjoyed bringing them to you!
While we're not associated with the Nootka tribe (now known as The Nuu-chah-nulth) of western Canada, we hold deep respect for their history, heritage and the beautiful area that carries their historical name.
- the Nootkas Family