First Look at Civic Duty

Tyvek: It’s not just for FedEx anymore.

The lightweight, paper-like material — probably best known for its use in mail pouches and home building — was the inspiration for a new line of casual sneakers called Civic Duty. The collection, born out of the recession, fulfills creator Steven Weinreb’s desire for a brand that will give back to the community. Each year, the profits from one of the styles will go to a charity selected by the brand’s consumers. First up: Common Ground Relief, an organization based in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward.

Weinreb said he wanted to keep the look of the shoes sleek, so the Civic Duty branding is confined to a logo on the tongue and an argyle strip down the back of the heel. However, that could change. “As we grow, we’ll start being a little more bold and creative,” he explained. “But for the core collection, we wanted it to be clean, simple, timeless and understated.”

Secaucus, N.J.-based Civic Duty is launching for spring with five styles for men and women: a low-top, a laceup, a high-top, a chukka boot and a slip-on. All five will be available in eight colors and will retail between $54 and $59. Initial distribution for the collection, which delivers in November, will be to independents and fashion-minded boutiques, although Weinreb said he’s also targeting better department stores.

The Designer

Steven Weinreb, who worked for many years as VP of sales at Gola and Bensimon distributor Megablue, found himself unemployed in early 2009 as a result of the economic downturn. “I decided to make Civic Duty to help mainstream, everyday people,” he said.

The Inspiration

Five years ago, one of Weinreb’s brands created a travel shoe packaged in a Tyvek bag, sparking the idea for the line. “I [noticed] how it looked with the printing and how lightweight it was,” he said. “I thought this could be a great material to work with. It was waterproof and breathable.”

The First Account
New York boutique Tani picked up the shoes because, as owner Michael O’Donnell said, the Tyvek material would make the brand stand out from other sneaker labels carried in his two stores. “They were very cool and completely different from anything out there,” O’Donnell said. “I thought they were great.”

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