Handcrafted Comfort and a One-of-a-Kind Look
Bioline is a shoe company most of our North American readers will probably be unfamiliar with—I certainly was, until I had the opportunity to test out a pair of their intriguingly offbeat Kappas. Beyond feeling sophisticated and European in them, these Biolines are quickly becoming my go-to winter shoe. Only recently imported to the States thanks to Enjoy Winter, the Italian company’s product line offers shoes for every climate and occasion.
Bioline creates all their meticulously designed footwear in a small factory in the foothills of the Dolomites, which lets their craftspeople keep a close eye on the product quality. In business since 1930, the Italian outfit prides itself on the personal, artistic approach it brings to each pair of shoes. Materials are of the highest quality and are carefully sourced to be as natural and sustainable as possible. The designers work continuously to test and retest ideas and innovations, always striving to maximize durability, comfort and style. Since the shoes are still handmade, the path from paper to product is entirely up to the people working; this lets the in-house artisans obsess over and perfect each detail (the company describes over 200 hundred steps that must be followed to make each shoe).
All this care and time poured into each shoe comes through on the Kappa’s. Unwrapping them from their colorful packaging, the shoes (mine are in the “Almond” color) were unlike anything I’d seen before. A cross between a slipper, a loafer, and perhaps a sneaker-boot, the boiled wool upper made obvious how comfortable the shoes were going to be, while the low-cut look and thin sole emphasized their chic, casual style.
With a drawstring around the ankle opening, and the wool, leather, and thermoplastic linings, these shoes are made for wintry conditions. My first mission in my new Biolines was emptying and repacking a car for my upcoming vacation. As I stepped out onto the ice and snow covered driveway, I was immediately impressed by the grip these slight shoes had on the slippery stuff beneath. Not only that, after an hour-plus literally ankle deep in slushy snow my feet were amazingly still dry and warm.
I’d been trying to decide on what occasions I would wear these unique Biolines, and I had my first answer: any wintertime activity that requires lots of back and forth from snowy grossness to a clean indoor space. They’re the perfect shoe to slip on at the door and go get the mail, run to the store, walk to a meeting, or grab a cup of coffee in. You’ll be comfortable on the cold streets, and perfectly vogueish in the trendy new coffee shop or important business meeting.
Not only are the Kappa’s excellently suited for short, snowy jaunts, they make for fantastic travel footwear. I wore them on a trip that involved long car rides at either end, a four-hour flight, a three-hour bus ride, and endless walking: my feet remained cozy the whole time, and I felt right at home with the cosmopolitan airport crowd and in the bustling city scenes.
A large part of why I like the apparel and products I do is the story and spirit behind them. And knowing that the shoes I am wearing are the result of almost a century of good craftsmanship, ecologically-minded design, and unbelievable attention to every unique detail—that adds a lot of value.
Even if the Kappa’s aren’t your cup of tea, Bioline is a brand deserving of discovery in North America. With such a wide range of sandals, sneakers, and slippers available, they are sure to have a shoe that fits your needs and tastes.