Sustainability continues to dominate conversations in the world of footwear, and a brand has emerged that believes it has an eco-friendly solution when it comes to insoles.
Having long experienced back and foot pain while walking the streets of New York City, Libie Motchan and Daniel Nelson launched their insole company, Fulton, in March 2021. Aside from alleviating pain, the goal of the Fulton co-founders was to create an insole that removes carbon from the environment.
“We created a carbon negative insole by sourcing better materials from better suppliers in better ways. By incorporating 100% regenerative materials like cork, natural rubber foam and organic cotton, we don’t actually harm any plants we source our materials from. Since they are able to continue to live after we harvest our materials, they can continue to absorb CO2 from the environment,” Motchan explained to FN.
Fulton’s latest product is the Athletic Insole, one designed with protecting the everyday athlete in mind.
“The everyday athlete engages in high impact activities like running on city streets, playing tennis on asphalt courts and doing cardio in a gym studio. Without proper support, this often leads to foot, knee, hip and back pain,” explained Motchan. “While they are practicing one form of wellness, they are actively ignoring another — wellness in their feet. Adding proper arch support to their shoes is the easiest way for the everyday athlete to achieve whole body wellness.”
To cater to the everyday athlete, Fulton created its Athletic Insole with shock absorbing cork to reduce impact to the wearer’s body and protect their joints, as well as breathable organic cotton made to both resist odor and keep feet cool. Also, it was created with arch support in mind that Fulton explained aligns the wearer’s entire kinetic chain from the ground up, a deep heel cup to stabilize the heel to reduce the risk of injury and a comfort-focused cushioning foam material to add padding where its needed.
In terms of sustainability, Fulton stated the insole is handcrafted in small batches in Porto, Portugal, and made entirely from natural, plant-based materials. Motchan said the brand’s materials suppliers for the Athletic Insole are powered by 100% electric energy and leverage modern technologies that both improve product quality and reduce carbon emissions.
Motchan said the Athletic Insole was in development for roughly a year before its debut, which includes prototyping, testing and iterating. Although Fulton eventually landed on a product it felt worthy of releasing, the process did not come without challenges.
“We spent months searching for a sockliner that met our criteria around quality, durability and sustainability in an athletic context,” Motchan said. “Also, comfort is king, but too much comfort could impact the functionality of the product. We learned that especially in a performance context, consumers care about striking the perfect balance between comfort and support.”
Currently, Fulton’s retail strategy is led by its direct-to-consumer (DTC) business, which Motchan said will help the company understand the needs and behaviors of its customers. However, the brand’s products can also be found in some stores throughout the U.S., including select REI Co-op doors and online via REI Co-op and Nordstrom.
Looking ahead, Motchan said Fulton will use the insights it has gathered since its DTC debut in order to prioritize wholesale distribution in 2023.