Every now and then a product comes along which feels like an Oprah “Aha moment.” It literally puts a bounce in your step. Alan Silber’s Ra’anana-based range of footwear, Shaamli, does just that. This aptly named footwear means “my cork,” but it encapsulates more than its literal translation; it is an entire concept, an ethical choice – a way of looking at life! It proclaims: Tread lightly. Leave your mark. Make it sustainable.
The mission is to develop and market a range of stylish footwear that embraces the sole and the soul of the wearer using renewable sources of raw materials and supporting small to medium businesses around the world.
Alan Silber's post-COVID initiative
Kudos to Silber, an ex-South African in his 60s who had been tinkering with the idea of an innovative range of footwear for some time, and this perfectly timed post-corona initiative. In truth, he told me, lockdown at the height of the pandemic provided a perfect laboratory for reflection, introspection and discovery. Silber felt as if Nature herself was giving him clues for his next endeavor, and whether by serendipity or Divine Providence, he came upon the idea of using cork as his choice of fabric. More than that, it feels like a kind of tikkun (healing) both supporting and being inspired by nature, reflecting a myriad of colors, patterns and texture, at a time when the world needs healing on so many levels.
His excitement unleashed, Silber began his journey researching the world of cork, and soon discovered a multitude of global benefits to delight both vegan and environmental savvy folk alike.
He learned that 95% of the earth’s cork comes from Spain, and that cork extraction is one of the most environmentally friendly harvesting processes in the world. Not a single tree is cut down to access the cork. It is a highly skilled job, and even the axes are specially designed to cause as little damage to the tree as possible. Interestingly enough, stripping the oak of its bark actually enhances its ability to absorb carbon dioxide. In fact, during its regrowth,it absorbs five times more carbon dioxide than a normal tree, making it an effective agent against global warming.
Cork is such a perfect raw material that no industrial laboratory has yet been able to emulate its characteristics. Learning about some of these attributes, one quickly understands why cork became Alan’s material of choice. Besides being 100% sustainable, it is renewable and carbon-neutral, and boasts an impressive list of qualities: it is durable, lightweight, impermeable, hypoallergenic, anti-static, odor-free, and has an elastic memory enabling it to adapt to variations in temperature and pressure. And that’s just the start.
When the world of cork opened up to him, Silber began to investigate the possibility of transforming it into a fabric. He contacted factories and laboratories to find out the hows and wheres of developing a cork fabric. Prototypes were approved, and the path was forged for Shaamli footwear.
Today the range of footwear is manufactured under license in various factories across the globe depending on style and capacity. Some of the factories are situated in Portugal, South Africa and India.
All the factories are ethically run, and have years of experience in the footwear industry.
The eclectic range is designed for men, women and children alike, and is a work in progress. Initially, Alan launched his line in a rainbow of colors and designs, including the natural cork pattern as well as various animal prints in the popular Chelsea boot style.
Lace-ups, sneakers, sandals and flip flops in an equally appealing and exciting selection of styles, colors and patterns will be available in time for the summer. All of the footwear is manufactured from cork uppers with various soles depending on the requirements for each particular order. Soles could be made from recycled rubber, cork, EVA or PVA.
There is a comprehensive website shaamlifootware.com, and soon the range will be available in retail independent stores and outdoor and camping chains.
Alan is currently working on ideas for handbags, wallets and clothing along similar lines. ■
shaamlifootwear.com orWhatsApp: +972-54-496-6598Rehov Herzl 4, corner Ahuza, Ra’anana(Office, showroom & warehouse)By appointment only.