When Gumbies founder Michel Maurer discovered the Aboriginal rite of passage -“Walkabout” - at the age of sixteen when he and his family received their emigration visa for Australia, these were very exciting times, Australia then was a mystical land and still relatively undiscovered. He didn’t realise how much this would influence his own highly original take on life, and his future career.
Freedom and adventure were in his DNA, never wanting to be constrained by four walls and always staring out of the window, dreaming up his next quest or things to make out of discarded bits and pieces in his Dad’s garage. Many escape attempts were made to avoid conformance, and anything that got in the way of what he considered "real living" but Michel was far from idle, and he eventually embarked upon what was to be a long and often hard journey of committed entrepreneurialism and self-employment.
Leaving home with a few saved coins, a backpack and a head full of dreams, Michel found work on his travels, fuelling his passion for creativity. Whilst working at an outdoor exhibition in Salt Lake City USA, he read an article in a trade magazine profiling the famous boot maker John Lobb, his struggle and success through innovation, hard work and determination. Something struck a chord, and the idea for creating a brand and products that would encompass the way of life he enjoyed so much.
Now was the time for Michel to channel his creativity. The brand would reflect his passion for simplicity, necessity, and most importantly- freedom. Utilising natural materials based on a strong ethical foundation, but with a visible point of difference, the quest for the perfect flip-flop had begun.
The ‘Islander’ flip flop, also known as the 1000-miler was conceived.
Prototypes were made using old tyres, but realising that car tyres were too crude and not commercially viable, he set about exploring the use of recycled rubber instead. Bonding it with jute for strength and sandwiching an EVA midsole for comfort, topping it with canvas for a more natural touch to the skin. Finishing off with vibrant, but contemporary colours, each one tells a story – a blank canvas to express his beliefs and unique view of the world.