The name WABI is a Japanese word, which can be translated as 'rustic, simple, without artifice, modest, unpretentious, and inwardly oriented' as we are told by the Camper press release, which is worded in classically terrible fashion marketing speak. They go on to say: 'Wabi is a natural shoe, useful, and designed to be used in interior spaces. It is a shoe developed from a concept of simplicity, a modest life, comforting, and full of satisfaction'. While this all sounds very nice, it tells us absolutely nothing about the shoe itself or why I should write about it. So to get down to brass tacks, or rather TPE soles...The WABI family consists of six styles of shoe, four of which are made from a single mold TPE (thermoplastic elastomer), one from a single piece of wool felt with a TPE sole and another made from a single piece of plaited yute also with a TPE sole.
The WABI concept is to reduce the production of a shoe to its bare minimum to save consumption of time and energy. The WABI design is made up of only three parts in a four step manufacturing process. This is a radical reduction of the usual shoe making process, which according to Camper can be made up of 40 operations using 60 elements for just one shoe.
The additional benefits are that TPE is a fully recyclable material, which is particularly light, flexible, hardwearing and easy to maintain. The WABI's inner soles can be detached from the outer shoe and are made from fully biodegradable materials such as linen, Ramy wool or Igusa (the vegetable material traditionally used for tatami matting). The shape and materials of the WABI shoe are designed to adapt to the form and movement of your foot, making it even more comfortable to walk around your bedroom, or your garden or into town.
Camper have gone further in their line of eco-thinking and product marketing (for the cynics amongst us!) By designing a mode of transport to go with their family of WABI shoes. The "Bici Wabi" is a shoe with two wheels for "walking" around the city.' For a moment there I thought Camper had gone and designed some funky roller skates for us, but no Camper have reinvented the bicycle as shoe with two wheels! Brilliant idea I hear you and the marketing men say!
To have fun with the cool Camper animations and find out more about the spirit of WABI:
Research and images by Petz Scholtus, written by Leonora Oppenheim