OluKai is a California-based footwear company founded by Hawaii Native Bill Worthington, who first began selling island-inspired leather sandals in 2006. It maintains strong ties to the Hawaiian community while focusing on environmentally friendly practices both in Hawaii and California. Each product is given a Polynesian name with Mea Ola meaning “creature.”
The Mea Ola is constructed using the “Wet Sand Principle.” Like a foot sinking into wet beach sand, the sandal is made to cradle the foot with use. It boasts a biomechanically engineered anatomic footbed with a deep heel contour to support and align the foot. The toe post is hand-sewn with metal rivets and the straps are full-grain leather. The lining is synthetic pigskin with a neoprene backing and the midsole is compression-molded EVA wrapped in full grain leather. The outsole is also wrapped in full grain leather and made with 30% recycled materials with non-marking natural latex gum rubber traction pads. All leather is sourced from environmentally conscious ISO-14001 certified tanneries while manufacturing is done in Asia and Mexico.
Built by a company dedicated to the waterman and ocean lifestyle, these leather sandals fulfill their job. This sandal can handle any situation from the beaches of Hawaii to the concrete jungle of New York City. It is water-resistant but not waterproof and the traction pads maintain a steady grip regardless of weather. Compared to my previous pairs of more “popular” mainstream leather sandals, these sandals do not warp or color bleed onto your feet. Although OluKai is all about comfort, it takes a while before the tough construct of the sandal is actually broken in. Eventually your foot will create its own personal impression and sink into a bed of comfort, but expect a blister or two first.
It’s ok to judge this book by its cover. The Mea Ola leaves no aesthetic detail behind. From the handsewn canoe lash whipstitch detail to the laser etched artwork, every nook and cranny is carefully designed onto a polished-high quality leather bed. If the Dark Java color is not for you, there are four other color options to choose from.
The OluKai Mea Ola Sandal is one of the highest priced leather sandals and not for the casual beach-goer looking for quick comfort at bargain prices. It takes some time to break in and requires some maintenance and care, but they will reward your feet with long lasting comfort and luxury style.