Sustainability has become a hot topic for brands trying to improve their environmental performance, but Twisted X® has always understood the importance of balancing both product and planet. The brand is known for its comfortable, yet creative footwear collections that span men’s, women’s and children’s categories, as well as outdoor, western, work, and lifestyle. But the real, hidden benefit of a Twisted X shoe is that it’s made with the natural world in mind.
Twisted X takes a holistic approach to its sustainability commitment, weaving eco-considerations into every part of the business. Rather than an afterthought, sustainability is a core element of the brand’s process and product, separating it from the wave of other companies trying to tack on green initiatives to an existing, complicated system. With a Twisted X shoe, customers know that the brand is constantly evolving its production and optimizing to reduce environmental harm.
“We have a commitment to bring to market a new innovation or technology every six months and when possible, one that revolves around our sustainability mission,” said Prasad Reddy, CEO of Twisted X. “The world of sustainability is improving all the time with new textiles and technology.”
Textiles are a big focus for Twisted X, as material selection accounts for a significant portion of a shoe’s carbon footprint – as well as its style. When choosing footwear textiles, designers and product developers must consider how that material will stand up to the elements and wear over time; shoes are put through much harsher conditions than other kinds of apparel.
Then there’s the feel of the product, the aesthetic – and of course price, both for the brand to manufacture, and then ultimately to the end-consumer. One challenge of working with sustainable materials, such as recycled polymers or natural alternatives to synthetics, is that they must be handled differently. It is not always possible to simply substitute them into existing designs. Instead, designers must consider the individual requirements of that textile.
“It tends to work better when we start with the material and create designs with it in mind,” said Reddy. “When you design against the materials, you have better foresight into any potential limitations. For example, with our Zero-X™ line, we know the material won’t fray when we cut and stitch it.”
The Zero-X line is a collection of shoes that contain zero glue or chemical adhesives. Instead, Twisted X has built a revolutionary interlocking, double-stitching system which eliminates the need for glue, and therefore 75% of the harsh by-products of footwear manufacturing. Chemical adhesives, scoring dust, and debris are excluded, as is the heating and cooling production energy.
Footwear requires more components than the average piece of clothing, which can create challenges for teams looking to produce an entirely sustainable item. But Zero-X is not the only product innovation dreamed up within the brand. To address the lack of sustainable options currently available in the market, Twisted X has also developed its own fabric called ecoTWX®. Made from deconstructed recycled plastic, each pair of is made from an average of 13 bottles. ecoTWX is 100% upcycled from recycled P.E.T. bottles and can be used for various applications throughout the shoe, not just the fabric upper. In fact, Twisted X has already launched its ecoTWEED shoe and footbed lining to replace the use of nylon.
“We have found that leveraging our sustainable materials for different parts of the footwear makes for better footwear,” said Reddy. “ecoTWEED enables us to migrate from nylon lining to a 50-50 ecoTWEED and bamboo charcoal blend that is moisture, antibacterial, and odor-absorbing, breathable, and softer.”
The Product Promise
When a consumer buys a Twisted X product, they know that each part of their footwear has been optimized for the planet’s wellbeing. Whether the upper uses ecoTWX; corkTWX®, noninvasively harvested from cork trees; or merino wool, prized for its innate temperature control, they can be sure that the environmental impact was minimal. Bamboo laces, midsoles made of algae or molasses, outsoles made with rice husks – Twisted X has sourced its materials from every possible location in order to find the most sustainable option.
But there’s also the guarantee of style because at the end of the day, the brand is still committed to making beautiful, comfortable shoes. While consumers are continually demanding and choosing environmentally friendly options, they still want to look good and feel good as aesthetics and comfort are a non-negotiable. Furthermore, the quality of craftsmanship has to be there.
“Unless the style looks good, the end consumer may not care if the product is sustainable,” said Reddy. “It is a balancing act: we are wholly committed to using sustainable materials, but if the styling isn’t right and it simply won’t sell, we don’t want to waste the resources developing it. To address that concern, we focus on ensuring the styling is right and delivers against what our customers want and expect from us.”
The brand is constantly innovating – later this year, Twisted X will launch its Blend85® footbeds that leverage at least 85% upcycled factory waste. But there is one thing that can always be relied upon: the shoes will be stylish, comfortable, and good for the planet.
THE BIG, GREEN PICTURE: In Conversation with Prasad Reddy, CEO of Twisted X
FN: How would you define sustainability’s role at Twisted X?
PR: Sustainability is the backbone of Twisted X and one of our four core pillars: Product, Planet, Philanthropy, Partnership. We’re always trying to do something to help because we think every person should want to do something about this issue. Twisted X provides consumers a way to change their lifestyle without having to compromise on comfort – our brand is an easy way to be a part of making this change. People are gravitating toward our mission now more than ever, which is extremely gratifying to see.
FN: How do you ensure that you’re meeting environmental standards across the business?
PR: This is something we have always done and will continue to do. Formally, we have hired a sustainability strategist full time, which is largely unheard of for a company our size, but we have made this commitment to continuously improve. We are also a single-use plastic free company and all our employees play a part. They are extremely enthusiastic about our mission and it truly is a snowball effect: Our team will read about the issues and learn more, leading them to educate their family and friends. It is extremely gratifying to see everyone believing in and supporting our eco-forward mission.
FN: Do you have any big overarching goals in terms of environmental impact?
PR: Our core goal is helping every person get involved in our mission to help the environment. As an individual company we make an impact but, if we have millions alongside us, we will make a huge impact. More specifically, we have a series of targets. One is for our offices and factories to be Scope 1 and Scope 2 carbon neutral by 2022, and another goal is to have at least 80% of Twisted X footwear include at least one sustainability component by 2022. We aim to eliminate 5 million plastic bottles from the waste stream and plant 500,000 trees through our partnership with One Tree Planted® by the end of this year. We also commit to expand the Zero-X collection featuring Twisted X’s proprietary interlocking, double-stitching system which eliminates 75% of the harsh environmental issues created with traditional footwear manufacturing.