VOYLOK Boots: Sustainable Warmth for Every Season

Wool felt footwear reimagined for modern living. True to our roots, kind to our planet and our feet!

We believe that there is a better way to dress your feet for inclement weather.  VOYLOK boots offer a warmer, more comfortable and a naturally sustainable way. Wool and hot water - that's all it takes to craft a pair of VOYLOKs!

Rain boots are heavy and not breathable. Snow boots are a pain to put on.  Trekking boots are a bit of an overkill. Anything else will probably not keep your feet warm and dry as you go through puddles, grass, sleet, rain or snow.  That was the idea that lead us to creating VOYLOK felt boots. And as we started exploring it further, we discovered so much more.

A better and more sustainable way to dress for the weather

VOYLOK boots build on centuries-old tradition of making felted wool garments, and bring it to the modern-day city and countryside. Felting is a remarkably sustainable way to make things – it only uses wool and hot water. No chemicals, no dyes, glue or bleach. So any by-products – basically, muddy water – can go straight to your garden.

Why would I want to wear VOYLOK boots?

"What?" we hear you say. Spring is here, and summer is around the corner. Why would I care about warmth now? VOYLOK boots deliver warmth and comfort across all seasons and weather. Besides, next winter is coming. We all know this much!

Originally, wool felt boots were made to keep your feet warm all day in knee-deep snow and Siberian frosts. VOYLOKs are a lighter, slimmer, more refinedversion of those heavy-duty boots, and they perform equally well all year round. How is this possible? Wool felt is highly breathable, and is great at both trapping heat and absorbing moisture. Whether it is cold or warm outside, your feet are just as comfortable inside VOYLOK boots. And the overshoes keep the puddles away.

Yes, the overshoes! You can take them off, and continue wearing your VOYLOKs indoors. Never mind cold floors again! This is perfect for home or home office. Or any office, really – certainly the air-conditioned ones. VOYLOKs just might replace your favourite slippers. 

With VOYLOK, you get two pairs of shoes in one!

How are they made?

It takes great skill to make felt boots, and luckily this incredible craftsmanship has survived to this day. The boots are made entirely by hand. Mastering the craft takes up to a year, and it takes a whole week to craft your pair of VOYLOK boots from a bale of raw wool in a process unlike anything else. First, the raw wool is combed. Then the booty is grown layer by layer. Bathed in hot water. Shrunk. Sculpted from the inside. Then dried in a wood-fired oven. In a week's time, they are ready.  Grown, not sewn, for inner warmth.

Sculpted, not sewn

This is so old school that it has become new school again. If we were race car engineers, could say that VOYLOK boots are a monocoque, unibody construction made from a natural composite in one continuous layer with no seams. Or you could say they are 3-D printed by hand. The hands make all the difference.

Why we need your help

We have partnered with small factories – craft shops, really – to develop the VOYLOK range. Their methods remain authentic as they pass their skills down the generations. The design work is done, and we are very happy with the prototypes. To make the VOYLOK boots a reality, we need to invest in new sets of shoe lasts and moulds for every size in the range, and that requires significant upfront capital. By supporting our campaign, you will help us make that capital investment, and thus make VOYLOK range a reality. We will bring more year-round consistency to the factory’s workload, and facilitate full time employment outside of winter months.

And you will get your pair of VOYLOKs in time for the next cold season, just as you will want them the most! We will deliver your pledge by October 2021. Help us to help you get ready for the next winter... and to bring good warmth back into this world!

When would I want to wear VOYLOK boots?

VOYLOK boots are built for the winter, of course, no matter whether your winters are frosty and snowy, or wet and miserable, or simply cool. But that’s just the beginning. You will enjoy them any season for walks in the park, or taking your dog out in the evening. A quick nip to the garden when you can’t be bothered to use a shoehorn or tie your laces. A bike ride to the shops. The school run. Pamper your feet after your ballet class. Warm them up after a wild swim or a surf session. Go fishing. Stay comfortable in the office. Drive in them if you must – you won’t destroy your heels after a muddy walk.

You can dress your VOYLOK boots up or down as much as you please. From country bog to city smog, they will deliver the warmth and comfort.

Or wear them when you simply want to kick your feet up and do absolutely nothing. This is hygge-to-go.

Hygge-to-go

 

 REWARDS. What kind of VOYLOK boots can I pledge for? 

This crowdfunding campaign is for the premium Raw Core range of VOYLOK boots: the original collection, the VOYLOK 1.0. ‘Raw’ stands for natural, un-dyed wool, which has not been compromised by acids or chemicals, just bathed in hot water. Sheep normally come in some grade of white, or some shade of grey. So these are the two colours we offer: Some Kind Off-White and A Shade of Grey.  Wool comes in small batches, and every sheep is unique, so there will be some variation from one batch to another. We think this is great.

The VOYLOK Raw Core range: the Logs, Fogs and Clogs all mixed up.

There are four styles of the boots of different length: the low-cut CLOGs, the shorty FOGs, the mid-length LOGs (they are roughly the length of a fireplace log!), and the tall BOGs.  Clogs, Fogs, Logs and Bogs, in ascending order. We think the Logs are the go-to model as they are the most versatile. But the Clogs are a surprisingly practical number, too, and are many people’s favourite. Choose the short-cut Fogs if you like that style better, and the gorgeous Bogs for that knee-high look.

The overshoes will be available in red or black. We will offer more colour options down the road, and you could have more than one pair of overshoes of different colour to properly accessorize your VOYLOKs. But to begin with, it is Red or Black. Scarlet and Noir, if you prefer.

How to Wear Them. The VOYLOK Look

VOYLOK Clogs​

VOYLOK Clogs in grey and white. Black or red overshoe.

VOYLOK Fogs

VOYLOK Fogs in grey or white. Black or red overshoe.

VOYLOK Logs - Regular Length

VOYLOK Logs Regular length in grey or white. Black or red overshoe.

 VOYLOK Logs - Long Length

VOYLOK Logs Long length in grey or white. Black or red overshoe.

 VOYLOK Bogs

VOYLOK Bogs in grey or white. Black or red overshoe. 

VOYLOKs are unisex design. Men look great in VOYLOK boots, too!

 

You might be happy to wear VOYLOKs instead of…

  • Rain boots, unless you go more than ankle-deep in mud or water. For most other occasions in the city or countryside, VOYLOKs will do a better job: lighter, breathable, always warm and comfy.
  • Sheepskin boots. Because the wool felt in VOYLOK is raw and less treated, so it is kinder to the environment as well as your skin. The overshoe protects VOYLOKS from moisture, so they are more versatile and last longer, too. And fleecing doesn’t kill sheep.
  • Snow shoes/duck shoes. Because VOYLOKs are easy to put on and off, they are much lighter and just as versatile. The lining or inner booty in snow boots is almost never made of natural felt (but rather synthetics), so it is not as warm, does not last as long, does not massage and caress your feet.
  • Garden clogs. Because VOYLOK clogs are warmer, and you can keep wearing them indoors.
  • Designer sneakers, casual shoes. Because do you really need over-engineered, over-supportive fast fashion footwear that will look ridiculously obsolete in a year?

Remember, with VOYLOK you don't just get all-season comfort. You get and outdoor and an indoor shoe in one.

Outdoors and indoors. VOYLOK boots are two shoes in one.

Here is how we think VOYLOKs compare at a glance

If you do not see a need for VOYLOK boots in your life but would like to support our cause, we will thank you for your gift pledge with a digital card featuring original VOYLOK art. Do not pledge for a pair of VOYLOKs just because you like them. You know you shouldn’t. Or should you?

Timeline

 The VOYLOK Team 

Andrey Petrov, founder of VOYLOK , has over 20 years experience building successful businesses and developing new brands for major multinational companies. His work received numerous international business and design awards, including Gold Pentawards and Red Dot Design Award. His enthusiasm for VOYLOK is supported by three of his children. Mariya, Nina and Nikita are charged with testing VOYLOK prototypes to destruction and are yet to achieve their goals! Ilya Eivazova is a fashion expert behind several iconic boutiques and fashion labels, and provides her expertise on design as well as mothering duties.

Connect with Andrey on LinkedIn here.

IMPORTANT QUESTIONS

What are the VOYLOK Boots Like to Wear?

Quite unlike anything else, frankly. VOYLOK boots feel light (because they are!), and comfortably roomy. Nothing presses or rubs. In fact, within a week or two they will mould to the shape of your foot. They are soft, but not too soft – the felt texture gives you a gentle massage. It is much like walking barefoot – the sole is soft, there is no heel or extra arch support – yet your feet are protected and insulated. In fact, we think it is best to wear VOYLOK boots completely barefoot, skin on felt, the wool lanolin nourishing your skin. You could also pair them with socks, but you’d be missing out on part of the joy.

159g (5.6oz) for a VOYLOK Log size 36. Flip-flops can weigh more than this! Complete pair with overshoes weighing in at 605g (21oz) - less than half the weight of winter boots, but equally warm and more versatile. Half the wight of your rain boots, too!

VOYLOKs will be comfortably loose on your foot. Easy to slip on and off, yet comfortable to walk in. Very useful for driving in wet weather – you will not destroy the heels in these. Initially, they will shed a little bit of wool – this is normal. If you are very lucky, you might find a small bit of straw embedded in the felt– that’s for good luck. You can pluck it out or leave it in, your luck won’t change. That’s because we don’t use any harsh chemicals which would normally destroy vegetable matter in the wool when making yarn.

Choosing Size, Style and Colour

What size should I get?

At the end of the campaign we will send a survey to find out which size, styles and colours you want to order. We are offering size range equivalent to  36-46 (UK 3.5 - 11.5, US 5.5 women's - 12 men's) in whole size increments. We will ask for your foot measurement, too, and will tell you how to do it. VOYLOKs are meant to feel a little loose, and they will mould to the shape of your foot within a week or two.

You will want to add about a centimetre (1/3 inch – ½ inch) to the length of your feet for the proper VOYLOK feel, more if you intend to wear them with thick socks. So if you are size 35 (UK 3, US Womens 5),  you can still order our smallest size. Remember, the VOYLOK boots will really mould to the contours of your feet with wear – shrink some, stretch some. Size up!

If you are looking for size larger than 47 and above (UK 12, US 13) – please let us know. If we get enough requests for these large sizes, we might be able to run a batch!

In our video, Galina wears the VOYLOK Logs size 39 with red overshoes, Nina wears the tall VOYLOK Fogs size 36, and Lida wears a kids version of VOYLOK boots which we are not offering yet (watch this space – follow our Instagram here). Andrey wears VOYLOK Log Long boots size 44 (UK 10)

Colour

VOYLOK boots are any colour as long as it is A Shade of Grey (grey) or Some Kind Off-White (white). That's how most sheep are. There is small natural variation of colour between different batches of wool, and as VOYLOK are unbleached and not dyed, this variation carries through to the finished product. Overshoes are either Scarlet (red) or Noir (black).

VOYLOK Raw Core colour palette. The boot is either Some Kind Off-White (white) or A Shade of Grey (Grey). The overshoes are either Scarlet (red) or Noir (black).

Style

Here is a recap of the four styles of VOYLOK boots that we offer as part of the Raw Core range:

  • VOYLOK CLOGs: for your home, office, or home office. For your garden, too!
  • VOYLOK FOGs: low-cut boot, very light.
  • VOYLOK LOGs: (Regular and Long): mid-length boot, the go-to model.
  • VOYLOK BOGs: gorgeous high boot, available as stretch goal only. 

Is “barefoot” good or bad for you?

We are big fans of minimalist, “barefoot” footwear. What is this? Shoes that give your toes plenty of space rather than bunch them together, and that give your whole foot wiggle room. VOYLOKS feel wonderful to wear, they are never tight, and easy to slip on and off. Minimalist footwear does not seek to do your feet’s work for them, and feature low-profile soles, no heels no arch support. What, no arch support you say? Isn’t that bad? We’ve been trained to think so, but that’s actually not true. When you walk barefoot, your feet’s muscles and tendons are supporting the arch, and that keeps your feet toned and strong. It’s because we allow our feet to grow weak – by wearing over-supportive shoes, and by walking too little – that we grow to rely on footwear to do that job for us.

Barefoot feel, yet your feet are warm and protected.

Start by taking short walks in your VOYLOKS, and enjoy the freedom of walking barefoot while staying warm. Do try actual barefoot walking – in the park, on the beach – then slip back into VOYLOKs effortlessly. It doesn’t matter how cold it is outside!

If that feels hard, you can insert your usual supportive insole for the transition period, or better still – start doing some foot exercises. There are plenty available on the internet, and we will be posting some good ones on our Instagram.

Your VOYLOKs come with a removable felt insole which you may or may not want to use depending on how much cush you require.

VOYLOKs can be your step towards a natural, barefoot lifestyle.

How sustainable are they? Are they green? Vegan-friendly?

Wool is a natural fibre grown by sheep that roam freely in the countryside. Sheep re-grow their fleece every year, making wool one of the most sustainable fibres available. Farming also helps to preserve the landscapes, as sheep grazing maintains the countryside, creating habitats for wildlife to thrive.

As long as there is grass for sheep to eat, wool can be produced, in contrast to synthetic fibres, which require oil and refineries, a non-renewable resource for man-made fibre production.

The only by-products of felting are muddy water and felt off-cuts, and they both can go in the garden.  We are collecting most scraps and off-cuts for use in accessories and other helpful items. The boots are dried in a wood-fired oven (large sauna, really) fuelled by wood waste from local forestries.

The VOYLOK felt is made with no use of acids, bleaches or dyes – just raw wool, hot water and very skilled craftsmanship. This is beyond what any industrial process can offer. So far beyond. We rely on skill, rather than tech and waste.

When you are done with your VOYLOKs – they will serve for years, but nothing is forever – they can go straight back to nature. Cut them up for crafts, or use the felt as a pot liner for your plants – it is great at trapping moisture. Or just dig them in your flower bed – they will be great at preventing drought. Plant a tree in one!

What happens to the sheep? Sheep are not killed when they are shorn. In fact, it is a good idea to shear sheep late in spring as it helps them during summer, and it prevents deadly fly strike (when flies lay eggs in the fleece, and the larvae then dig into the skin). We are aware of reported instances of cruelty to sheep at large industrial-scale farms and we oppose harsh treatment of animals. The sheep that supply their wool for VOYLOK are raised by local smallholders in small flocks. The sheep are treated well and live long lives at pasture. Is this vegan? You decide. We are happy to bring a product like this into our world.

What about the overshoe? The mainstream industry options are rubber or silicone. Both have their pros and cons. We prefer silicone for its performance in cold weather, low carbon footprint and recyclability.  Silicone is UV-resistant and hypoallergenic – you can probably find silicone items in your kitchen!

We are also exploring new exciting material developments – such as compounds made out of sea algae, or natural rubber made out of dandelion sap (yes, really!). If you have a view on this, do chime in!

We are trying hard to be gentle and kind both to our feet and the environment.

Our Environmental Commitments

Long-lasting design

Skilled craftsmanship results in very high quality construction. With due care, the VOYLOK boots will last years and years, longer than typical mass-produced footwear. We subscribe to the slow fashion ethos, and our designs work in collections rather than seasons, and there is no planned obsolescence in our design process.

Reusability and recyclability

With VOYLOK boots you really get two boots in one - a pair for outdoor adventures and, with the overshoes off - a warm and comfortable indoor pair. The versatility of VOYLOKs allows them to fulfil the role of several types of shoes - rain boots, snow boots, walking/trekking boots, garden clogs, casual shoes and slippers. This is very suitable to a minimalist lifestyle. Wool felt is completely biodegradable and can go directly into your garden as a form of compost.

Sustainable materials

The VOYLOK felt boots are made with no use of acids, bleaches or dyes – just raw wool, hot water and very skilled craftsmanship. This is beyond what any industrial process can offer. Wool is 100% renewable and biodegradable, you could plant a tree in your old VOYLOK boot to help it grow. The silicone overshoe is recyclable, and we are looking into cutting edge alternatives, too - such as materials made from sea algae or dandelion sap (really).

Environmentally friendly factories

Our factories are small, more like workshops than industrial giants. They have been around for decades if not centuries, and no new carbon need to be embedded in the premises or equipment. The drying of the felt boots is done in wood-fired ovens fuelled by offcuts and scraps from local forestry.

Are the boots made in some sweatshop?

No. The people in the video are the actual people who will be making your VOYLOKs. They are highly skilled, enjoy their work and provide for the families. They are not merely colleagues, but more like a multi-generational extended family. Most of them live within walking distance of the workshop. By launching VOYLOK, we will help create steady employment outside of the peak winter months.

It takes great skill and craftsmanship to create your pair of VOYLOKs. Zhanna Leonidovna, Irina Vladimirovna, Tatyana Pavlovna, Olesya Vladimirovna and Galina Vladimirovna make sure of that.

The Raw Core range will be made in the authentic workshop in the North of Russia. For further collections, we will be looking to include additional workshops and small factories in Russia, Belarus and Finland. For the production of the overshoe, we are looking to make a final selection between specialised factories in Europe or Asia.

Care

It is very easy to care for your VOYLOK boots, but it is important that you do it right. If you get them muddy (lucky you, keep at it!), just wait for the mud to dry, and then brush it off with a clothes brush, or a clean shoe brush. If you get them wet – or, rather, when you get them wet – don’t be afraid, VOYLOK will be fine in the puddles and in the rain, unlike sheepskin boots which are destroyed by moisture. Let them dry overnight at room temperature, that’s it. Do NOT put them on a hot radiator, or on top of your AGA stove (we know it is tempting) as they might shrink. Setting them beside a radiator or Aga stove should be fine, but you normally would not need this. Just remove the overshoe, remove the felt insole if you managed to get that wet, too, and let them dry overnight. That’s all it takes.

If you are very particular about cleanliness and insist on keeping your VOYLOKS spotless (no judgement), you can use mild soap and brush to remove any hard stains, and then rinse the soap off with brush and water. Even the white VOYLOKS will clean very well that way.

So: clothes brush, and sometimes – soap and water. That’s all it takes. Don’t be afraid to take your VOYLOKs anywhere – cold, damp, puddles, snow, slush, sea, rain – it’s all good.

As with all woollens, you will need to protect your VOYLOKs from moth if you put them away for a long time.

What is wool felt?

To quote British Wool, felt is a soft fabric made from natural fibres, such as wool. Wool felt is created when wool fibres are compressed and matted together using heat, moisture and pressure, creating a dense, strong fabric made up of permanently interlocking fibres.

Wool has many natural features and benefits, so felt made from wool offers benefits across many different products, as well as being 100% renewable and biodegradable. Wool makes naturally great felt and felted fabric thanks to the complex structure of wool fibre. The outside layer of wool fibre – the cuticle – consists of overlapping scales. When rubbed together or dampened, the scales interlock with each other, creating a durable felt material.

Do you use some kind of special wool for VOYLOK boots?

We don’t have to. Felting works well with many kinds of wool, and there is no need to seek out exotic varieties for VOYLOK boots. The local sheep breed that will supply the wool for the Raw Core range happens to be called the Romanov Sheep – but there is nothing elitist about them, really!

Tell me again the benefits of VOYLOK wool felt footwear?

Gladly! Here they are:

  • Very warm on a cold day (ANY cold day), yet comfortable on a warm summer day.
  • Very light. Lighter even than most summer shoes.
  • Hygroscopic. Feet stay dry. Never sweaty. Never clammy.
  • Highly breathable. Even with the overshoe on.
  • No bacteria or fungi on wool fibres, so healthy feet and no stink
  • Lanolin in the wool fibres nourishes your skin
  • Felt pampers your feet, but does not spoil them with softness: they get a very gentle massage
  • Easy to slip on and take off. No pulling, nor even the need to bend.
  • Boots mould to your feet. No blisters
  • Very kind to your feet, and to the environment.

What is lanolin?

Lanolin oil is a secretion from sheep’s skin. The purpose of lanolin is to condition and protect sheep’s wool. This conditioning property is why the substance is now widely used in human cosmetics, skin care, and hair products. Lanolin is extremely hydrating and has the ability to soften skin to help improve the appearance and the feel of rough, dry, or flaky areas. Since no chemicals, dyes, acids or bleaches are used when making VOYLOK wool felt boots, the lanolin in the wool is retained for the benefit of your skin.

How are these different to Valenki?

We are keeping VOYLOK boots as close to the design principle and manufacturing ethos of valenki – the original Russian winter footwear. The VOYLOK boots are completely, 100% authentic. We are, however, making them for modern city and countryside where you don’t need to survive for days at freezing temperatures of -30, but rather feel warm and comfortable on a dog walk or commute to the office. So we make them thinner and lighter while retaining their strength, and also shape them better for your feet so you don’t need to wear a thick sock. In fact, you can be barefoot in them, and that’s most enjoyable. You can still wear VOYLOKs at an alpine ski resort and you will be totally warm!

Fulfilment

We will optimise fulfillment to achieve the most direct route of shipment to our backers in the UK and Russia, and intend to ship directly from Russia to all other countries.  Backers will be responsible for import duties, where applicable, for international pledges.

Risks and challenges

As with any new venture, there are risks of things taking longer than projected, unexpected costs and overruns. We have substantial experience in bringing new products to market, and this will help us to manage the risks of launching VOYLOK. BREXIT has created uncertainty about import duties and fees. Customers outside the United Kingdom and Russia might be required to pay import duties and fees upon receipt of their pledge.

Further plans

We have many ideas in the pipeline for VOYLOK. Our first priority after launching the Raw Core range for adults is finalizing the kids & toddlers range. We are exploring collaborations with minimalist shoe brands as well as cutting edge designers. We are also working on a line of accessories made from wool felt, mostly scraps and off-cuts from the VOYLOK production. Watch this space, and make sure you follow us on Instagram!

Media and business enquiries

If you would like to dig deeper into the VOYLOK story for your blog or publication, or if  you have a distribution opportunity, product or design collaboration in mind, please get in touch via hellovoylok (at) gmail.com We’d love to hear from you!

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Thank you for your support!

 VOYLOK is a registered trade mark.

 

SUPPORT THEIR CAMPAIGN: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/voylok-boots-sustainable-warmth-for-every-season#/

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