Paper shoes? Yeah, you heard right. Wildling Shoes Tanuki are made of paper and are such breathable shoes that you can easily wear them even in the hot summer. Once you put them on, you realize that there is no lighter, more comfortable and more breathable closed-toe shoe like this.
It was my Tanuki model Suna that convince my mom to start wearing barefoot shoes. With this shoe, neither the thinness of the sole nor the appearance bothered her. Those were the shoes she said, oh, those shoes are really good. Wildlings Shoes Tanuki models are also worn by the rest of my family and all like them a lot.
The Tanuki models are available in a variety of colors and initially I intended to review only the Tanuki Niji model. However, I decided to include a few other colors in the review to show you the variety of colous. Some of them are basic colours and are available all year, while others are just part of a special edition or color of one season.
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- Brand: Wildling Shoes
- Model: Tanuki (Niji, Umi, Minto)
- Colour: Niji – offwhite, Umi – navy, Minto – mint
- Tested on: woman, medium-wide feet, 26.3 cm long and 10 cm wide (10.3 cm between metatarsal heads), low instep, skinny ankles with narrow heel, fin-shaped foot (see my how to measure guide and foot type) – wearing size 42
| Made in EU | Adult, kids | Vegan | Ship worldwide |
2. Material characteristics
Wildling Tanuki are made of a very special stretch washi material, which is a mixture of paper (75%) and polyester (25%). The material is extremely breathable, dries quickly and has an antibacterial effect. It’s a material you won’t come across in any other shoe and it’s truly exceptional.
In the photo below you can see three Tanuki models – (from left to right) Niji, Minto and Umi. Niji and Umi are basics models and are available each year, while the Minto is part of a special edition. I bought my Minto pair last year and it was also available this year, but the adult sizes were sold out immeditely.
As a curiosity, I can say that Tanuki Niji was initially released only as a limited edition colour, but it was so well received among the people that Wildling decided to make this model part of the permanent Tanuki collection.
Just look at this airiness and thinness of the material.
All Tanuki models have added matching laces, but as always you can replace them with any other color of cotton flat or elastic laces available on their website. Adult models come with cotton flat laces, children’s elastic.
Among all Tanuki models, the Niji model carries a very special message. Namely, the small rainbow on the left shoe is not chosen at random. The left side is our heart side, and the rainbow, which is basically a symbol of the gay and lesbian movement, also has a deeper meaning and symbolizes tolerance and acceptance.
You can read the whole story of the rainbow and how it ended up on Niji’s shoe in the post Behind the rainbow.
A distinctive fox logo is added to the heel with an added pull loop at the top.
All this year’s Tanuki models (see Umi model on the left) come with an insole made from a mixture of hemp and flax, which perfectly regulates temperature and moisture. My Niji model in the photo is last year’s model, so it comes with a washi insole that was replaced this year with the same insole that the Umi model has. Anyone who wants to wear Tanuki models in a cool and wet environment can buy a washi replacement insole on their website.
With Wildling shoes, people usually first notice this special split sole, which is typical for all Wildling shoes. The sole design was inspired by the Ninja Warriors shoes and the ground feeling is remarkable in them.
There is no doubt about flexibility. With only a 3.5 mm thick sole (2.5 mm in smaller sizes) and with such a soft upper, it feels like you are wearing only thin socks.
Also check my video for the close-up and to see how they look on my feet.
3. Sizing information
Tanuki models are available in kids ‘Wildling’ and adult ‘Rewild’ sizes, which means in sizes 23 to 48 (but not all colours are available in kids collection). The difference between children’s and adult models is only in the laces (children’s models have elastic).
To determine the correct size, I recommend using the Wildling FitKit, which you can print out on their website (pay attention to the correct scale). For adults, choose a size where the toes reach to the ‘Rolling space’ line and for children to the ‘Growing space’.
As with most summer Wildling models, I wear a size 42 with an internal length of 27.3 cm here too. The shoes are 10 mm longer than my foot, which is within the optimal space recommended. I wear my Tanuki barefoot, so I always have enough space to spread my toes.
See my post How much space do we need in shoes if you want to know more about that.
3.2. Toebox shape & width
Wildling shoes have a fairly square toebox shape. They are ideally suited to foot types 4 and 5, but the shape is quite universal and fits well to all the other foot types as well. More extra space in front of the little toes can only remain with type 1 due to the steep slope at the toes. The toebox shape fits my foot shape very well.
More about different foot types you can read in my post What is my Foot Type?
The shoes are best suited for medium wide feet. They also fit nicely to narrower feet and medium-wide feet, which have less volume.
They are just wide enough for my foot width (10 cm). The Washi material also stretches slightly when worn, but still make sure that your toes do not hang over the sole, although the extremely soft upper allows it.
They are also suitable for feet with a slightly larger volume in the front part, but if the width of the foot is within the width of the sole.
3.3. Fit around the instep, heel and ankle
Tanuki models can be adjusted well to different heights of the instep and different foot volumes in the instep area. They will fit the best to those with a lower and medium high instep, but they also fit well to those with a slightly bigger foot volume and wider ankles.
If you have narrower ankles like me, you may notice a looser fit around the ankle. But because of this the shoe is not less secured on the foot and this is not disturbing while walking.
Extremely extremely comfortable shoes. I really have no complains. It is a pure pleasure to wear them.
5. How and when to wear them?
You can pair these light and breathable summer shoes with a summer dress or with cropped jeans and a T-shirt. If you work in healthcare, you can also wear Tanuki at work. They are fabolous there too.
6. Price & where to buy
Wildling shoes can be purchased on their official website. The price for adult Tanuki models is 99€ and for children 85€.
Since June 2021 they have a separate website for US and Canadian customers. You need to create a new account and you will receive a voucher for 5% valid on your first order in 2021.
7. Shipping info
Shipping costs for Germany are 4,90 € and for international orders 8,90 €. Free shipping is for all orders above 200 €. Wildling offers free first returns and you can arrange your return through DHL.
Shipping to US and Canada is $9,90. Free shipping is for all orders above $200. First return is free of charge.
For ordering I recommend you to use Paypal and you can use their free return service.
8. To sum up
When people first notice Wildling shoes, their attention is always drawn to their distinctive look. The shoe looks very soft and it also has a slightly different sole. Yes, it’s definitely something special. But Wildling shoes will quickly steal your heart and when you try them for the first time, you realize why they are so exceptional.
If you haven’t tried the Tanuki model yet, then you really don’t know what you’re missing. I’ve been wearing Tanuki models for the third season now and I can’t praise them more than I have. They are great shoes. Not just great, fantastic.