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The Blog from Oi Polloi presents:

Yogi is an English company who know a thing or two about brown shoes.

Inspired by classic comfort shoes from the 70s, their designs have a humble, down-to-earth feel to them missing from a lot of contemporary cobblers.

We talked with main-man Paul Batista to find out a bit more…

Okay Paul, what’ve you been up to today?

We’re a small team and we run the brand from the ground up so we’re always busy. This time of year’s always about refining next season’s range. Today we’ve been getting the finer details like the right shade and thickness of stitching and laces signed off.  

Yogi was started in the 90s, but a lot of the designs are influenced by shoes from the 70s – things like the Kalso Earth Shoe with the negative heel.

The brand was originally directly influenced by the Earth and Roots shoes from the 70s. A Danish lady called Anne Kalsø developed the negative heel by observing the motion and behaviour of the foot when walking in sand and the associated benefits on posture. The wider shape also allows the toes to spread naturally when walking.

It seems like the late '60s and early '70s was a real breeding ground for comfort shoes – why do you think this was?

During the early 70s the concept of simplicity and wellness was embraced by the young generation - including the student community in the US - as the antithesis to the previous generation’s stuffy formality.

Kalsø had by then opened her first store and was a key protagonist in the emergence of brown comfort shoes as a fashionable yet practical item.    

We’ve seen a lot of interest from Japan in our negative heel style, which is likely by virtue of the wider form.

What are the other designs influenced by? There’s a definite classic American outdoor flavour to some of your shoes.

Absolutely. The Lawson moccasin is definitely influenced by Native Americana. We’re also doing well on the sustainability front – vegetable tanned leathers, water-based glue, natural rubber. These things weren’t necessarily developed back in the 70s, but they’re cornerstones of the sustainable model, which also happens to be part of the philosophy.

Suede and crepe is a truly wondrous combination – why do you think it works so well on a shoe?

It’s a classic combination. A lot of contemporary clothing and footwear has origins rooted in military apparel. I think you have to credit the Clarks Desert Boot, adopted by British Army officers in WW2, and later by American preppy and British and French youth movements.

The lightweight, flexible properties of suede and crepe have travelled well and, at some point, there’s been some cross pollination with Native American moccasins, and here we are...     

"The detail is in the materials and construction, not superfluous bells and whistles."

This might be like a father picking his favourite child… but what is your favourite Yogi shoe?

The Willard Negative Heel in Tumbled Leather - the most comfortable shoe I’ve ever worn.

And, barring any Yogi designs, what are your three favourite shoes of all time?

The Paraboot Michael, the Spring Court G2 and the Birkenstock Boston.

Good choices. Maybe a tough question, but what makes a ‘good shoe’? There’s a lot of stuff out there, so what sets a great shoe apart from something average?

The best shoes I’ve owned were either made in Europe or the US, where they have a shoemaking heritage on a higher, almost cultural level. Something I’ve noticed, and which is one of Yogi’s cornerstones, is that the detail is in the materials and construction, not superfluous bells and whistles. It should be a simple product executed with care and integrity.  

I might be wrong, but a lot of people who are really into shoes are often into other things pretty heavily too. Have you got any other obsessions?

Military surplus outerwear and house plants. I spend a lot of time looking shifty in Garden Centres.

Haha, who doesn’t? Have you got any words of wisdom you’d like to add?

Only that I’ve been privileged to make a living doing what I’m passionate about. I’m fortunate to work with a great brand and product, visit some amazing places and meet some great people on my travels. 

And the bear jokes never get old.

See the Yogi shoes here. 

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The people say...

  • Charlie Warren

    Massively underrated footwear, amazing comfort and the designs are spot on!! Good work Paul and the team @Yogi!!!

  • Hard To Please

    Lovely shoes that have the comfort of Clarks but with way cooler design using much better leathers. Please bring back the penny loafers. I, like Mother Hubbard, have been living in those bad boys for the past few years!

  • Tom G

    I’ve had a couple of pairs of Yogis now. Just as good as, if not better, than they were back in the day. Knockout quality too.

  • Carlos The Mauve

    Lovely shoes. Lived in the suede mocassin throughout the summer and will be ordering the leather version for the damp winter months!

  • King Kong

    Got a couple of pairs of the Lennon dropped heel in the summer. Great quality and the most comfortable shoes i’ve ever brought. Service was cracking as well.

  • The Reserection

    Lived in (not literally I’m not Old Mother Hubbard) the Lucas Mocassin for over two years. Great quality and comfort which, due to a beautiful patina on the leather, are improving with age.

  • Welcome Edition Showroom

    One of the best footwear brands out there…we’re proud to include Yogi in our line up. Keep up the good work 👏👏👣✌

  • fatty flat foot

    Lovely looking designs but found the Yogi Orson to be very uncomfy and poor quality so returned them. Shame as had a pair of Yogi back in the 90s and they were belting shoes. Perhaps for future designs look at sizing and allow space for a memory foam insole.

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