Asia Lifestyle chats with ethical footwear brand, Kingdom of Wow! about hygge and embracing a slower pace.
In a region where it’s customary to slip off shoes at the door and paddled around barefoot, it’s fair to say slippers aren’t a well-known concept in the tropical climes of Asia. So, to make cozy woolen slippers in Cambodia may seem a little crazy, however here Kingdom of Wow! are, doing just that!
Despite their location, Kingdom of Wow! Dutch brand is all about the hygge! Pronounced hue-guh, hygge is a Scandinavian concept meaning a mood of cozy comfort. An all-year-round feel, but especially important in Europe during the colder winter months, when daylight hours are limited and the need for self-care is increased.
Since covid-19, the world has unwittingly adopted hygge, with many embracing a slower pace and an appreciation for the simpler things in life. Revealed with an increase in online sales of loungewear promoting stay-at-home comfort. And finding humor in home working with memes of under the table sweatpants worn by shirt and tie professionals during Zoom meetings.
It’s perhaps unsurprising then, that Kingdom of Wow! has seen steady growth in slipper sales this year. Usually, a very seasonal product bought during autumn and winter, the company has continued to sell their crocheted slippers throughout the whole of summer. Again, suggesting that people are taking time for themselves to relax.
But whatever the season, there’s something quite special about owning a pair of Kingdom of Wow! slippers.
Each pair is handmade entirely in their workshop by an all-female local team. It takes four hours to crochet the slippers using a blend of over 1,000 yards of wool and bamboo yarn, then cut and hand stitch the soft leather soles into place. It’s a rare and dedicated process in times when most of the products we buy come rolling out of machines. But beyond their cozy hygge-ness, every pair is made with pride. A pride to create products the right way. Ethically…..
Kingdom of Wow! was set up to provide ethical employment for women in Siem Reap. Offering fair wages to support themselves and their extended families, as well as free lunches, insurances, day-care and a safe and pleasant workplace.
Different from on-trend fast fashion brands that are often disconnected from manufacturing, Kingdom of Wow! stays connected at every step of their design and production process. As a brand, they want to lead change and influence the wider manufacturing sector to implement more ethical working practices.
Everyone has a footprint and Kingdom of Wow! is no different. The business does however actively strive to minimize impact on the planet. They do this by largely using biodegradable materials including sustainable and eco-friendly yarns. And natural materials including cotton and jute for a new collection of summer shoes. The little carbon they do create is offset by supporting the replanting of indigenous tree species in Cambodia with conservation partners, Fauna in Focus.
To find your own hygge or learn more about ethical footwear brand, visit Kingdom of Wow! or follow their journey @kingdom.of.wow on Instagram and Facebook. If you’re visiting Siem Reap feel free to call into meet Team Wow! and see their workshop. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a visit.
Photos: Regis Binard Photography
Originally from the UK, Tracy started her journey in Southeast Asia in 2010. Over the last decade, she has worked in communications and development supporting and create awareness to conservation and humanitarian issues in the region.