Uneek perspectives

Meticulously crafted to compliment the shape of your feet – while providing balance and flexible movement – UNEEK has been a firm favourite with Ernest since its launch in 2016, accompanying the team on many an adventure. We check in with KEEN to find out how their one-of-a-kind hybrid shoe has evolved.

  Editor Jo explores the Galapagos Islands with her trusty UNEEK originals. Photo: Graeme Owsianski

Editor Jo explores the Galapagos Islands with her trusty UNEEK originals. Photo: Graeme Owsianski

UNEEK is the ultimate hybrid shoe: a versatile sandal, made from interlocking cords that adjust to provide custom fit for your foot, which is smart enough for urban rambles yet robust and ready for wilder adventures. Over the past year, this quirky piece of footwear has protected our feet from sea urchins in the Adriatic and accompanied us on rugged volcanic paths in the Galapagos and while springing for trains in the city. While the original design has found a firm footing with the team, and with its followers, there are now new styles, new colours and new materials to consider. Before we have a look, here’s a quick introduction…

Dynamic design: an introduction

It’s easy to recognise UNEEK for its disruptive aesthetics, but the form has always followed the function. Designed to create a custom fit on any foot, UNEEK provides unparalleled comfort and versatility for outdoor adventures. The interlocking cords adjust to provide custom fit for your foot, while the bungee entry system lets you adjust the tightness. Support, motion and flexibility are key design features in the shoe, with its lightly cushioned heel, flexible mid-sole and free-moving cord system – all and which work with the natural movement of your foot. On top of that, they’re lightweight and breathable – ready to ramble whether you’re roaming through the city or setting out into wilder terrain.

Your UNEEK. Your way.

This footwear is all about self-expression and this year there are even more styles so you can find the right sandal to suit your individual lifestyle and performance needs.

UNEEK Original

Back by popular demand – the classic design returns for another season in a fantastic new range of colours and a choice of flat or round cord. Featuring a free-moving cord construction, heel strap for stability and a durable but lightweight midsole for arch support, it’s a versatile shoe, which now boasts some special editions!

UNEEK Original: Leather (special edition)

This is the original style but upgraded with soft leather cords. A cushioned strap supports the ankle, while the midsole offers the support of a sneaker. Fancy.

UNEEK Original: Urban Trail Pack (special edition)

Premiering this summer, the special edition UNEEK Originals: Urban Trails Pack offers an eye-catching aesthetic with a distinctly athletic profile. A lightweight PU midsole in a bright sporty finish contrasts with tan gum rubber pods on the outsole for versatile traction and cushioning.

  U NEEK Originals: 79.99

UNEEK Originals: 79.99

UNEEK O2

Twenty five per cent lighter than its predecessor, this robust style – part sandal and part sneaker – has a lightly-cushioned enclosed heel as well as grippy rubber outsoles. It’s a pioneering, athletic design and the cords adapt to your foot so you’re assured a cosy and customised fit.

UNEEK curation

It’s not just new styles either, each month KEEN curates a special collection to show off key threads and themes within the UNEEK range. This month sees a collaboration with Zebu – a dynamic illustration and artist duo from Berlin, who take inspiration from abandoned spaces in the city and produce bold, abstract artworks through screen printing, drawing and mural painting. The collection draws on bold blues and greens as well as urban shades of aluminium, slate grey and bright white. Or perhaps you prefer the Camp Life Pack? Natural tones, perfectly suited to slipping on by the campfire after a day of climbing, hiking, paddling, or just chilling. Watch this space for the latest pack.


This is a sponsored blog post, created in collaboration with KEEN. Read more stories from the Ernest x KEEN partnership in our directory

Choose your style on the KEEN website.

Follow and share your UNEEK adventures on Instagram using hashtag #UNEEKPERSPECTIVES

TrailFit adventures on the High Peak Trail

Terradora is a robust yet nimble boot that embodies KEEN's TrailFit philosophy – versatile footwear that promises to be just as comfortable for working out in the city as for a light run on wild, open terrain. Ruth Allen embarks on the 17-mile High Peak Trail in Derbyshire to put a pair through their paces. 

  Words and photos: Ruth Allen

Words and photos: Ruth Allen

Seventeen miles. Yes, I’ll take that. Those were the words in my head as I settled on the idea of running the High Peak Trail end-to-end last month. The Peak District has its fair share of county-crossing trails, but the High Peak’s biggest draw is that it offers plenty of history, big views across Derbyshire and ends a stone-throw from my house.

The plan was to test out KEEN’s new Terradora – a lightweight, waterproof boot designed especially for women that combines the support of hiking footwear with the flexibility and vigour of a trail runner. The boot embraces KEEN's TrailFit movement, which is all about finding your own path to fitness, however and wherever you choose to do so. The Terradora is aimed at women who live adventurous, hybrid lifestyles – whose exercise routines migrate between urban and wilder spaces. As I was planning to run, hike and seek headspace in the Peaks, I’d say this was definitely hybrid adventure territory! 

The length of the High Peaks Trail make it possible to fit into my work schedule, because whilst I love those long ranging, free-floating adventures that holidays bring, I’m always on the lookout for something interesting to do on the weekend that has the flavour of adventure (a story behind why you’re doing it, a feel for the unknown and the sense that it might not work out!) but in manageable proportions. 

The trail follows the former trackbed of the High Peak Railway, beginning – without fanfare – just outside Buxton and winding up in the historic mill village of Cromford. My decision to run its length was confirmed when I noted that the final stretch of the line was closed in 1967. Not only would my run be a new way of exploring my local area but it would also be a personal nod to the 50-year anniversary. 

Saturday morning. Having packed a bag of snacks and warm clothes for the day, I parked at the start of the trail and got on my way. I like to run like this: no start lines, no fellow runners, no deadlines and no noise. It’s just me and the trail, in a quiet agreement that I will show up and make an effort and it will provide me with something to notice along the way that will take my mind off my feet, my legs and my overworked heart. 

On this occasion, I had no reason to think of my feet at all. If I had departed with any concern about what it would be like running in boots with ankle support, I needn’t have worried. These were the comfiest shoes I have run in for a very long time. It’s fair to say I have a fleet of trainers for different surfaces – most with a fairly aggressive sole – so this was the first time I had ventured into hybrid territory.  

The Terradora bridges the gap between hiking boot and trail runner, offering the support and grip of the former with the vigour of the latter; it was flexible enough for my pounding feet, while providing the ankle support needed for such rugged terrain. It’s also designed specifically for women’s feet: narrower through the heel, cushioned panels to reduce pressure on the Achilles tendon and a low-density midsole to give lightweight support for steep descents.

Given that I’d not so much as broken them in around the house, I was amazed to realise that I had barely been thinking of my feet at all. I kept expecting the rub to come but the Terradora handled the trail perfectly. I suspected they would be good on either the undulating gravel paths or on the steep, damp descents through woodland. To my surprise, I didn’t need to adjust my approach to either terrains. The soles were grippy, the insides cushioned and the foot-bed wide enough to accommodate warm feet all day. 

Having no shoe concerns made the whole thing a joy and as the miles flowed quickly beneath me, I found myself with plenty of time to take in my surroundings, have a think about the coming week and enjoy the day with a sense of playfulness. After all, who doesn’t love the nostalgia of messing around on railways sidings, whistling in damp, deserted tunnels and hopscotching over limestone boulders?

The Terradora is robust and durable footwear that ties into the TrailFit movement, inspiring women in their quest to challenge themselves mentally and physically. It’s all about finding your own adventurous ways to keep fit and not complying with standard ideas of a what it takes to be a cyclist, a runner, a hiker…

This definitely ties in with how I connect with outdoor fitness. I am not a runner, I am a person who runs. For me, this is an important distinction. I suspect many of us hold back from things we fancy trying in life because we don’t feel that we fit the brief or meet the definition. Perhaps we imagine a runner should be fast, full of energy and endlessly charting their interval times. Perhaps we have an idea of how we think they should look, what gear they wear and the things they eat when they’re not running. We might also think they’re highly disciplined people who wouldn’t dream of stopping to talk. I’m none of those things. 

For me, moving our bodies how we can and when we can, should be a joy. Sometimes it might feel like a punishment, but it’s actually kind to ourselves to celebrate our bodies and what they can do. We might do well to spend more time moving intuitively – running when we want to, walking when we choose to and not being afraid to sidle up to the kiosk for an ice cream at the end. This is the freedom of the trail. This is the freedom of having a body that can run if you ask it to.  

Terradora: the tech part

  • Specifically designed for women’s feet 
  • Cushioned panels reduce pressure on the Achilles tendon
  • Low-density EVA midsole provides lightweight support for high intensity workouts and steep descents
  • KEEN all-terrain rubber outsole for high traction grip
  • Dual-density PU foam footbed
  • Lightweight mesh upper
  • KEEN.DRY Waterproof breathable membrane. 

KEEN’s Terradora comes in a mid (£109.99) and low (£99.99) style. Head to keenfootwear.com/trailfit for more information, watch the Terradora video at bit.ly/ErnestTerradora and check our online directory for more stories from KEEN.

Essence + Alchemy: the relaunch

Lesley Bramwell of Essence + Alchemy spends a lot of her time in her laboratory mixing batches of rapeseed wax candles that crackle and smell of wild gardens and the sky above the clouds. We've spoken to her about her relaunch...

Lesley, tell us about what you've been up to in your laboratory the last few months.

It’s been a busy time, working on the E+A relaunch and designing the new store and products. I’m also in the process of designing and building a new garden laboratory. 

A garden laboratory, you say? Tell us more.

I was struggling to find a place in Sheffield that ticked all the boxes – clean, light, warm, nice view etc, so I decided to look into building a lab at home. My house is built on 1/3 acre – we have the space so it made perfect sense. 

Building starts end of July. A local timber frame company will erect the frame and my husband is finishing the external and internals. Hoping completion will be end of September.

It will have a dedicated lab store room, a desk area facing double doors onto the garden and lab area with benches under the windows facing the garden. Water used will be filtered and collected for reuse in the garden. 

The dream is to eventually grow and distill my own oils, which I can use in products. I like the idea of distilling my own rose essential oil but I might need to plant a few bushes before I can do that! 

What's been the inspiration behind your redesign?

The look of the brand has always been about my scientific background and the formula behind the name E+A.  I wanted a fresh and clean look that reflected this and with the help of local Sheffield designer Sean Coleman, I think this has been achieved - a combination of scientific text and pastel colours to reflect the natural scent of the products with a clean minimalist edge.  

Tell us about some of your new products.

There is a new handy travel size gold tin candle, great for popping into your bag or giving as a gift.  There are also candle refills for tea-light holders and large beaker candles and I’m also offering a candle refill service now whereby you can return your candle beaker for refilling.  

What is the candle club?

I created candle club to encourage the reuse of the large candle beaker and offer refills at discounted rates. Customers can either sign up to a 3 month or 6 month package and choose which candle scents they’d like and they also receive little gifts each month. 

What's on your bedside table?

A hardback copy of Culpeper’s Complete Herbal and an E+A Aroma Mist.  At the moment I’m using Unwind with lavender and sweet marjoram to help create a relaxing atmosphere before bedtime.  

This is a sponsored blog post, created in collaboration with Essence + Alchemy. Find out more about them in our Directory.

 

Photo boards: mastering the backdrop

The art of creating a beautiful backdrop for small-scene photography has been made far simpler with Photo Boards – rigid, lightweight background boards where every splinter, grain of wood, rusty nail and thread of linen are true to size. We spoke to Lyndsey James about her designs...

Lyndsey, Photo Boards® is such a clever, yet simple, idea. How did you come up with the concept?

Thanks! As a commercial photographer, I have spent a lot of time looking for backgrounds. I had the idea about three years ago, when some vinyl backdrops I purchased just weren’t of the quality I needed for close-up work, like jewellery, but I had just started teaching online and knew it would be a huge undertaking to manufacture, market and ship products to customers at a time when I was already super busy. 

I decided back then that if someone still hadn’t produced something like this in three years, then I'd go ahead and do it. It helped that I had a huge customer database of photography students to market them to, but I didn’t quite expect them to go viral in the way that they have – after just two months we were dispatching worldwide from a warehouse! 

What exactly are Photo Boards? 

They are table-top sized background boards for small scene photography with two essential features – they are true to size replicas and in a board format. As a photographer taking close up shots, you want a fake background to look like the real thing, so every splinter, rusty nail and thread of linen in the designs is actual sized. 

It being a rigid lightweight board design is also important for photographers, because it means that your set becomes mobile, allowing you to pick it up and move to a window for more light, or rotate your board to adjust your shadows without having to set up from scratch. To use a Photo Board, you simply use it like you would an actual piece of board, placing it on the table or floor or propping it up for a vertical background.

The textures of each Photo Board are strikingly crisp and as close as possible to the real surface - how do you achieve such clarity?

Yes, they look so real sometimes we do a double take! We spent a lot of time researching the base materials, inks and processes used to create the boards. They are created using the latest in high-resolution scanning and printing techniques, and laser cut to perfection to ensure each board looks smart before being wrapped in a clear sealed wrapper. 

People often think they're just prints of stock images but you just couldn’t get the true replica quality without having full control of the resolution at every stage. Each board starts out as an actual board from my collection of backdrops or we paint new designs when we fancy introducing a new colour or texture to the collection.

Which Photo Boards are the most popular? 

The most popular designs are neutral because they are the most versatile. Our customers can add a splash of colour to a neutral background with their subjects or props, layering their scenes on top of the neutral Photo Board base. We have seen the same wooden design used as an effective wooden floor, cabin wall, kitchen table, rustic desk – our customers always delight us with their creativity!

Why is it important for makers and bloggers to carefully consider backdrops for shooting their products?

A good background can really make or break an image, which of course is important for makers and bloggers who want their shots to be shared on social platforms to pull traffic and interest to their blogs and stores.

Readers and buyers love to aspire to a lifestyle, and for effective lifestyle shots you should always ask yourself does this photo look like real life? One example is that solid surfaces, such as wood and marble, don’t usually bend and curve, so if you use a wood or marble effect paper that curves behind your subject, it won’t look like a real lifestyle setting. Using a flat wood or marble effect base for the table and plain wall behind would look more effective in that scenario.

What's your personal favourite go-to Photo Board?

We particularly love the marble designs and bloggers and food photographers love them too – marble is very on trend at the moment because it adds a touch of style and glamour to scenes. If I had to choose a personal favourite, it would be our French linen design because it looks so wonderfully real, yet, like all our boards, it's wipe clean!

You also run Photocraft, an online photography school that teaches makers how to tell the story of their products - when's your next course?

There are exciting changes going on at Photocraft – we're about to embark on the summer season of live workshops here in Rutland, which are fun, relaxed days of styling with lots of pretty props.

Online we're moving towards mini workshops and free webinars. Photo Boards has taken over big time so after three years of hosting tutor guided courses, Photocraft will now become the place to go for free webinars and mini courses about specific photography topics, such as how to create dark and moody lighting. Watch this space!

Discover more about Photo Boards at photoboards.org and follow @photoboardshq on Instagram. Find out more about Photocraft in our Directory.

This is a sponsored blog post, created in collaboration with Photocraft

The Terradora: a hybrid hiking shoe for all adventures

From off the beaten track to urban streets, KEEN's new hiking shoe will get you moving on all terrain

Promoting play and exploration in all environments, KEEN’s range of footwear is ideal for adventurous hybrid lifestyles, migrating effortlessly from urban landscapes to the unexplored territory of the back country.

Their latest evolution in footwear can’t fail to speak to a generation of adventure-seeking women. Made for dynamic, active women who carve their own path when it comes to fitness, KEEN’s new Terradora waterproof boot infuses style, all-terrain versatility and performance with a precise women’s fit.

Whether pounding a favourite route through the city or traversing off-road trails, theTerradora will be a worthy companion. Built to bridge the gap between the gym and the mountain track, this athletic hiking shoe – which hits a sweet spot between the support of a hiking boot and the flexibility and vigour of a trail runner – has been designed specifically for women’s feet. 

Cushioned panels reduce pressure on the Achilles tendon, while a low-density EVA midsole provides lightweight support for both high intensity workouts and steep descents. On more demanding surfaces, an all-terrain rubber outsole and multi-directional lugs provide a superlative grip.

TheTerradora fits into KEEN’s new workout category TrailFit – a movement aimed at empowering fitness on any trail. By providing a technically-robust, durable and stylish shoe, KEEN aims to inspire women to continue in their quest to challenge themselves mentally and physically, wherever their feet decide to take them.

KEEN’s Terradora comes in a mid (£109.99) and low (£99.99) style. Head to keenfootwear.com/trailfit for more information.

This is a sponsored blog post, created in collaboration with KEEN. Read more stories from the Ernest x KEEN partnership in our directory.