When something works you don’t mess with it. Update it, sure, but keep true to what makes it a success. Manitobah Mukluks figured out how to keep feet warm in snowy, cold weather by looking back at traditions and techniques from the First Nations peoples of Canada. The demand for this warm, innovative footwear, plus a forward-looking social ethos means a booming company that is a true Canadian success story.
Sean McCormick, a Métis from northern Manitoba, launched a venture in 2007 replicating the mukluks he wore as a child. The concept behind Manitobah Mukluks was simple: leverage the sknow-how avoir-faire of First Nations’ artisans to make traditional boots and shoes. The success story happened near-overnight. Ten years on and the footwear is available everywhere in the world, donned by fashion divas like Kate Moss, Cindy Crawford, Megan Fox and others.
Mukluks & Mocassins
Mocassin Mini – Grand Enfant
Mocassin en laine Tipi
Mukluks (‘boots’) and moccasins (‘slippers’) have been worn by the First Nations for hundreds of years. Made to protect feet from freezing Canadian winters, the models popularized by Manitobah Mukluks lean on classic features: a suede or natural-leather outer, real fur lining, and traditional detailing, often beadwork. There is neither a left nor a right foot. Rather, the boots, shoes and slippers conform to the shape of your foot and your tread over time and usage, making a completely individual fit.
Taking from a winning past is a sound strategy at first, but modern touches are necessary to keep evolving. In order to ensure the highest quality throughout every part of the footwear, Manitobah Mukluks works with Vibram, the world’s leading durable grip outsole maker, an example of intelligent updating without compromise.
Heritage & Know-How
Above and beyond commercial success, the company looks to give back to the aboriginal community. They employ a minimum of 35-40% aboriginal workers and administration is 90% First Nations. There are economics and financial bursary programs for First Nation’s students.
The Storyboot project is another way they give back and pay forward: Manitobah Mukluks partners with elders to make boots traditionally. In turn, the elders lend their expertise to teach youth how to make mukluks and moccasins through their methods, while allowing them to express their own creativity. Every penny spent on a Storyboot original goes directly to the artists,
The Last Word
In addition to encouraging local artisans and investing in the betterment of the community, Manitobah Mukluks wants to inspire. Their aesthetic celebrates the traditions and history of the First Nations. They openly want their business model to be an instigator and incubator of a positive movement across the entire indigenous community. Through their innovative outlook, an art and culture that might otherwise be disappearing is instead revived and perpetuated through a successful, modern business model.