The Whalen marks the first product in the HELM collection with a genuine crepe rubber sole. We’re excited to introduce this material into our lineup for its flexible comfort and environmentally friendly composition. Lightweight and cushioned, genuine crepe rubber is an all-natural material optimally suited for all day wear. Get to know our latest edition with some fun facts about what makes a genuine crepe rubber sole unique…
What is Crepe Rubber?
Crepe rubber is natural material made primarily of coagulated latex tapped from rubber trees. The process of creating a crepe rubber sole begins by harvesting raw latex in liquid form. The raw latex is next coagulated into semi-solid form, then crushed, pressed and rolled by machine into sheets. These rolled sheets of crepe rubber are sent to manufacturers to cut into crepe rubber soles where they are ultimately handcraft into ultra-comfortable footwear at our factory.
The crepe sole gained prominence due to the popularity of desert boots. A mainstay of the British Military since the 1940s, crepe sole desert boots are world renown for comfort, traction and flexibility. Today, crepe rubber soles are used in a range of footwear options from moc toe wedge shoes to Chelsea boots. The individual aesthetic of crepe rubber soles can vary based on production method. Crepe rubber bears a crinkled appearance that is richly textured and pliable. As an outsole material, crepe softens with each wear, meaning your crepe sole boots will only improve in comfort. Crepe rubber soles are celebrated for the material’s superior traction, lightweight functionality and pronounced cushion.
The Benefits of Crepe Rubber
A primary benefit of crepe rubber is sustainable sourcing. Rubber tapping is a sap extraction technique originating from indigenous South America. The tapping process itself does not harm rubber trees. In fact, this harvesting technique helps rubber trees to flourish. A single rubber tree can be tapped regularly for 40 years. Each year, a single rubber tree might produce up to 19 pounds of latex. Derived from sustainably sourced latex, crepe rubber is an environmentally friendly, clean material that is 100% biodegradable.
Crepe rubber soles offer unbeatable cushion. A porous material, crepe rubber contains thousands of small air bubbles. These tiny pockets of air increase shock absorption while supporting the many ligaments and tendons in a wearer’s foot. The material protects the midfoot by contouring to natural flexion and organic movement. The result is a fit with cloud-like comfort and bounce on any terrain. The material also provides good insulation, does not track mud or dirt as much as mini-lug rubber, and is astoundingly quiet. The open pore materiality grants superior grip on slippery surfaces and ultimately contributes to less global waste.
Real Vs. Imitation Crepe Soles
HELM crepe rubber soles are always 100% premium natural material, sourced from latex. Imitation crepe soles are mineral oil based materials such as EVA, TPU or lightweight rubber.
Natural crepe is sustainable and biodegradable. Genuine crepe can be distinguished by appearance, feel, and smell. Real crepe has a porous look and crinkled texture with a high grip and natural aroma that hints at oat straw or stationary rubber. The color is either honey brown or a warm milky white but can be dyed darker. Open pored latex also absorbs dust, so much like leather, the material itself will patina over time.
Artificial crepe is less expensive and easier to manufacture. These synthetic alternatives are less sustainable for the environment and not as soft or flexible in their composition. Genuine latex soles are biodegradable but heavier in weight than their synthetic alternatives. Natural crepe rubber soles requires a level of finishing expertise to construct properly.
How to Care for Crepe Sole Shoes
Much like leather, crepe rubber soles are a genuine, natural material. Similar to leather, care should be taken not to expose the crepe sole to extreme environments. Avoid contact with harsh chemicals and solvents, from gasoline to chemical salts as these agents can cause surface damage.
Crepe will eventually breakdown and the longevity of a crepe sole is often determined by the thickness of the cut. HELM crepe rubber soles are built with comfort and integrity in mind. Made of coagulated latex with a distinguishable crinkle aesthetic, crepe rubber provides flexible cushion optimal for warm weather.
Meet The Whalen and Shop Our Crepe Sole Styles Here.