I'm so excited to introduce you to our El Paso Baba, made by hand in our new El Paso workshop, using an undyed, vegetable tanned saddle leather for every aspect of the Baba: sole, insole and upper. We've never used a leather quite like this before.
Our El Paso Baba takes the idea of "breaking in your pair" & "patina" to a whole new level. Like the most well-worn saddle, or a beautiful set of boots -- these Babas start out smooth and lighter in color and only get richer, more beautiful and perfectly molded to your feet with every step.
Shown above are my very own El Paso Babas, which I've been wearing religiously for the past 6 months. I've taken them from El Paso to Santa Fe, from the streets of Mexico City to the beaches of Oaxaca, worn them around the house, to the office, and as it has warmed up in NYC -- they've been my daily "ride" around town.
Unlike our other Babas, they felt stiffer from the start. I was a little skeptical. But, David - our product engineer promised me I'd fall in love.
And he was right, they've softened, darkened and really found the form of my feet. I've conditioned them twice, which is essential for this type of leather -- that process has really brought out the richness of color.
What is Vegetable Tanning?
Vegetable tanning refers to an ancient leather tanning method which uses natural elements such as oak, spruce bark, quebracho and olive leaves.
These substances are placed for long periods of time in earthen pits with leather hides, infusing them with the natural elements. As these tannins are derived from plants, not synthetic chemicals, the leather is called vegetable-tanned leather.
Less than 10% of the world’s leather is tanned this way today because it’s time consuming and costly; however, it results in incredible leather that ages like no other.
Babas Are Not Your Typical Slippers.
Although not initially as soft as the Sabahs and Babas you may be familiar with, our veg tan leather quickly softens and molds to your feet to become uniquely yours. The bull leather sole is thick, and is constructed with a small heel, both are exceptionally durable, so you can Baba outdoors without worry.
To maintain their flexibility, Babas are not finished with a rubber outsole. Hence, they may feel slippery at first. However, with wear, this leather will scuff and quickly create traction.
The Perfect Baba fit
Babas should fit so that the rear edges of your heels come right to the back edge of the insole, perhaps with a little space, but without your heel hanging off the edge. We recommend staying true to your European size. They will become more uniquely yours with time and wear.
How best to care for your El Paso Babas?
Caring for your Babas is important -- not complicated, but it must be done to maintain the integrity and life of the shoe. To care for your Babas, begin by lightly brush off any debris or dirt on the surface with a soft, damp cloth. Use Sabah leather cleaner and conditioner, in that order, applying the product to a soft cloth and rubbing it onto the shoe with a circular motion. Pressure isn’t necessary — simply apply with a quick motion and the heat of the friction will infuse the product into the top grain of the leather. Be certain to cover the entire upper, including within the creases. Allow to dry and then buff off the excess with a clean, dry soft cloth. Voila! Refreshed and renewed El Paso Babas!