Born in the islands of Hawaii, OluKai (Olu “comfort” Kai “ocean”) has created a business with a strong tradition of tribute to the Polynesian culture. More than once, I have perused OluKai’s website and read with envy about their involvement with Women’s SUP (Stand Up Paddle-boarding) Organizations. Their monthly ladies paddling series in Laguna Beach makes this land-locked girl a little restless. The shining star though, is the OluKai Ho’olaule’a (say that five times fast), an annual event that blends competition and cultural events with a celebration of the ocean. Their desire to spread their passion also carries to their affiliation with the Hawaiian Sailing Canoe Association, The Hawaiian Lifeguard Association & Junior Lifeguard Program and a non-profit grassroots land-trust called Maui Cultural Lands; and that’s only a small taste of how they’re giving back.
It’s no surprise that OluKai shoes have been showing up in magazine articles and ‘favorite picks’ on television news programs, but what might surprise you is how the company has responded to all the hype. True to form, they have graciously accepted the accolades but remain fully grounded and committed to their purpose. They call it ‘Ohana or “family” but it goes much deeper than that. ” ‘Ohana is connection. ‘Ohana is community. It is the Aloha shared among people with a common sense.”
Attention to detail is immediately apparent from the moment you open the box. Their high quality materials and designs are a tribute to the philosophies the ancient people they revere. OluKai has gone a step further by working with natives and experts in local culture to create breath-taking works of art that are true to traditional designs but are also functional. One of our testers commented, “The design on the top [of the sandal] is stunning, the dragon imprint is mesmerizing. I remove the sandal frequently just to look at all the detail. “
Made from premium full grain Italian leather with synthetic pigskin lining, they have molded the midsole to match the form of the foot. The outsole is non-marking gum rubber with fish scale texture and infused with natural burlap fibers. The hand-stitched detail is incredible on each piece. These are not cushy ‘puddle jumping’ sandals. “I see myself wearing these for many years.” one of our testers praised, “They are the kind of sandal I will have forever. I wore them the entire summer. I mean it, I wore them to Moab, Lake Powell, races and festivals and they STILL look new. I could hear my other shoes crying from the shoe rack.” Another added, “Be careful wearing these to an important meeting or date, because they are just fun to look at. I wore them to a dinner with my wife and caught myself looking at them several times throughout the evening.”
The Men’s Moloa has been created to be worn either as a slide or a shoe with the hand whip-stitched heelstay. Knowing their customers would also wear the shoes barefoot, OulKai added a dual-density PU footbed with microfiber synthetic suede cover. It’s removable, washable and anti-microbial. Translation? No stink. Bonus.
They have carried the same high-quality, water-resistant leather into their shoe line. While they are comfortable out of the box, because it’s real leather, keep in mind there will be a short breaking-in period. What you end up with is a product that molds to the shape of your feet and is extremely comfortable. “I found the OluKai Moloa to be exceptionally comfortable. I wear them everywhere. I like the convertable heel that lets me slide my feet in or wear them more like traditional shoes. The quality in workmanship and attention to detail is above and beyond any other shoe I have ever worn.” He added, “I was a little worried about how the leather on the sole would hold up, but after 6 months of use there is barely a mark.”
“The women’s [O Waho] boots are the same way,” our women’s tester jumped in, “after wearing them a few times, I noticed the leather was wearing beautifully. I love the styling as well. All their boots are hecka cute, I’ve already ordered another style.”
For more information about OluKai and it’s programs go to: www.olukai.com