Sustainability Matters: Giesswein’s Newest Leather Sneaker Is Made Out of Cactus + More

FN highlights the latest sustainable initiatives this season, including product launches, material innovations and corporate strategies. Send your news to web@footwearnews.com.

March 31, 2021: Giesswein is ramping up its green strategy with its new Cactus Sneaker. The shoe, which is offered in white, black, blue, red and green colorways, features vegan cactus leather. The sneaker’s raw material is made of the prickly pear cactus from Mexico, with the insole and inner lining made from organic cotton. By using plant-based leather, the use of chemical components like PVC or phthalates is completely avoided, according to the company. The sustainable style will be made available in June, retailing for $159.

March 22, 2021: Mr. Porter‘s in-house label Mr. P. has launched an eco-friendly version of its popular Larry sneaker. The upper is made with repurposed grape waste from the Italian wine industry, while the soles are composed of 30% recycled rubber. Crafted in Portugal, the updated take on the minimalist silhouette also features organic cotton laces and an onSteam microfibre lining, made entirely of recyclable polyester that’s breathable, sweat-resistant and designed to feel like leather. Mr. P.’s Eco-Edition Larry Sneakers are currently available in black and white colorways and retail for $335 on mrporter.com.

Mr. Porter's Larry sneaker.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Mr. Porter

March 22, 2021: Ralph Lauren Corp. has introduced a new zero-wastewater cotton dyeing system called Color on Demand, which could help address water scarcity and pollution caused by the dyeing process. According to the company, the system is composed of a set of technologies that enables the recycling and reuse of all water in the development stages. It also reduces the amount of chemicals, time and energy that are used. “Traditional color dyeing is one of the most polluting practices in our industry, and as a global brand, we recognized the need to create a scalable solution,” said Ralph Lauren chief product and sustainability officer Halide Alagöz.

March 16, 2021: Launching today, Madewell‘s eco-friendly Court sneaker is here. The style, which retails for $98, is the second installment to the brand’s sustainable shoe lineup. The outsoles are made from 40% recycled rubber and 10% rice husks while the laces are sourced from cotton farmed under the Better Cotton Initiative for a reduced environmental footprint. In addition, the sneaker’s upper is made out of repurposed leather.

Madewell, Court sneaker, sustainability
Madewell’s Court Sneaker is the second installment to the brand’s sustainable shoe lineup.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Madewell

March 4, 2021: Women’s shoe brand Mavette is joining forces with nonprofit Soles4Souls. Through the philanthropic partnership, shoppers will be able to donate one of two ways: either directly via Mavette.com or by bringing their shoes to a local collection facility. The company is also encouraging those who buy a pair of Mavette shoes to use the box that they are delivered in to send a pair of worn, old or unwanted shoes directly to the organization.

March 3, 2021: Made-in-America flip-flop brand Tidal New York announced this week that is now a Certified B Corp. According to the company, it is the first U.S. footwear manufacturer to do so. The B Corp assessment process measures performance in five categories: governance, workers, customers, community and the environment. The certification is meant to help consumers and investors identify companies that align with their value systems. Meanwhile, Tidal New York also has been inducted into the USDA BioPreferred Program and can now post the USDA’s label on its footwear. The shoe company has worked with sourcing partners to develop its proprietary Variable Biomass Oil, which is made from excess plant or animal waste as an alternative to utilizing fossil fuels in the production of polyurethane soles.

Tidal New York’s made-in-America flip-flop with tropical illustrations
Tidal New York’s made-in-America flip-flop with tropical illustrations
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand

March 2, 2021: L.A. shoe startup New Republic has partnered with Soles4Souls on a recycling program for its sneakers. Centered around the mantra “Give Shoes. Give Love,” the program encourages New Republic customers to donate their shoes when they’ve finished using them, in order to help the planet and change lives by providing relief and creating jobs. Customers can request a shipping label for the sneakers here, and will receive a a $30 off promotional code for their next purchase of $75 or more.

Feb. 24, 2021: Fashion footwear brand Off the Beaten Track (OTBT) has developed a new eco-friendly collection called Green Sneakers, consisting of court and high-top styles that feature playful printed leather uppers. The sneakers are made using sustainable materials such as natural rubber from Brazil, recycled rubber shavings, as well as recycled water bottles and rice husks. And the excess water from the leather tanning process is recycled back into the environment to benefit nature. “Sustainable living should be reflected in all that we do,” said creative director Kristina Petrick. “Changing your shoe choices may not erase all of the world’s pollution and environmental crisis, but it’s a step in the right direction.”

January 7, 2021: Emerging footwear label Kane is on a mission to marry comfort and sustainable style with its debut recovery shoe. Called the Revive, the clog-like silhouette is 100% recyclable and made with natural sugarcane, a low-carbon biofuel that helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (To note, the material is also used by Allbirds in the soles of its popular sneakers and slip-ons). According to Kane’s website, the sugarcane is responsibly harvested in Brazil’s Rio Grande Do Sul Region and processed in a neighboring facility to minimize environmental impact. The Revive will drop in limited sizes for men and women on Kickstarter.com on Feb. 2, with a full release on Kane.com happening in April. It’s set to retail for $60.

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