Valenki are often worn with rubber galoshes to protect the felt from wetness and to add extra resistance.
Russian valenki date back to the 18th century when the first pair was produced. Mass production of valenki started in the end of the 19th century when factories were opened.
Traditional valenki are black, grey or white. Handmade valenki are reputed to be of the highest quality.
How valenki are made:
In the 20th century, improvement in technology allowed manufacturers improve valenki’s water resistance whilst retaining the advantages of the felt. Modern valenki can have a wedge platform or even heels. Valenki are favoured by many parents: children can be warm while skiing, throwing ice-balls or making snowman, having these Russian boots on.
“Dumb as a valenok” saying
The word valenok is a part of an idiom. If somebody calls you a valenok, don’t be flattered. Despite all the wonderful qualities of this Russian boot, valenok means unsophisticated, dumb person, as the footwear itself seems to be very simple and coarse compared to more elegant shoes.