Sustainability Matters: Sanuk Debuts Plant-Based, Carbon-Neutral Sneakers + More News

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

Sept. 21, 2022: Sanuk has debuted its latest eco-innovation: Veg Out, a new capsule sneaker collection made with just seven low-impact, plant-based and recycled natural materials. The line includes two Sidewalk Surfer styles featuring hemp cotton-blend uppers, jute footbeds and cork and natural rubber outsoles. To take the sustainability aspect a step further, Sanuk, which is a division of Deckers Brands, measured the carbon emissions associated with the product’s materials and purchased offsets to address the small remaining amount, making the collection’s product materials 100% carbon neutral. The Veg Out collection launches today exclusively on Sanuk.com and retails for $70.

Aug. 3, 2022: After redeveloping its Trainer AD 1 sneaker to incorporate more recycled and plant-based materials, sneaker brand Lane Eight is now partnering with Carbonfact to achieve a true assessment of its carbon footprint, as part of a commitment to be net zero by 2030. Already the startup said it has calculated the footprint of its Trainer AD 1 and the HIIT Trainer sneakers, taking into account materials, production, logistics, product usage and disposal at end-of-life. Results showed that Lane Eight shoes have a reduced carbon footprint of between 28-38% lower than comparable footwear. The brand has pledged to share its carbon assessment progress with customers and other industries to encourage more companies to engage in sustainable practices.

July 22, 2022: Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana (CNMI), in collaboration with the Ethical Fashion Initiative (EFI) of the United Nations, announced its emerging talent finalists for its upcoming 2022 CNMI Sustainable Fashion Awards during a press luncheon in New York earlier this week. Carlo Capasa, Chairman of Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, and Desirée Bollier, Chair and Global Chief Merchant of Value Retail Management, spoke during the event, noting the importance of fashion’s rising talent. The finalists include: Nigerian fashion house Torlowei; Nkwo Onwuka, and artisanal brand at the forefront of sustainability and social innovation in the Nigerian fashion industry; and Italian brand Themoire’. The Bicester Collection Award for Emerging Designers will be honored on Sept. 25 at La Scala Theatre in Milan. The award show will be hosted by Rossy de Palma and will present 12 awards during the ceremony.

July 22, 2022: Ugg has unveiled the autumn/winter 2022 Plant Power Collection, a line of footwear featuring plant-based, bio-based and reclaimed materials. The collection features the Fuzz Sugar Clog, Fluff Yeah Fuzz Sugar, Fuzz Sugar Slide, and Fuzz Sugar Cross Slide – all crafted from low-impact materials like Tencel Lyocell sourced from responsibly-harvested trees, and a SugarSole midsole made with renewable sugarcane. For fall, Ugg added the ReFelt Tasman and ReFelt Nuemel styles made with 100% recycled polyester fiber felt uppers made from recycled plastic waste. “At Ugg, we are committed to our journey toward a more regenerative world,” Nicks Ericsson, senior director of brand purpose at Ugg, said in a statement. “Our latest Plant Power Collection reaffirms this ongoing commitment, as we reimagine our iconic styles and introduce new silhouettes that include plant-based and bio-based low emitting materials with offsets for the small amount of emissions they createy Ros – making the materials carbon-neutral.”

Ugg Plant Power Collection
CREDIT: Courtesy of Ugg

June 21, 2022: Vionic continues to build on its partnership with Proteus Ocean Group, founded by Fabian Cousteau (grandson of famed explorer Jacques Cousteau). After hosting their first beach cleanup on June 18 at Santa Monica State Beach in California, the two organizations are bringing more awareness to the ocean and climate change through their first product collaboration. The Vionic x Proteus sneaker collection is leather-free and made with eco-conscious materials, including a Repreve textile upper that is 100% post‑consumer recycled from ocean‑bound plastic bottles. The line includes three styles: the Pismo laceup sneaker and Malibu slip-on sneaker, both available now at Vionicshoes.com for $65. The Laguna espadrille style will launch soon. The collection, which officially debuted at the beach cleanup event, supports the establishment of Cousteau’s underwater research center, Proteus, in Curacao.

Vionic Proteus Malibu sustainable sneaker
Each Vionic x Proteus Malibu sneaker is made from 4.9 recycled plastic bottles.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Vionic

June 7, 2022: Adidas India on Monday united over 1,500 people for its fifth “Run For The Oceans” in Mumbai, an event that promotes sustainability. The program included a run followed by a beach clean-up drive on Versova Beach. The event also featured interactive educational programming that explained the importance of saving marine life from pollution. “At Adidas, our commitment to sustainability is holistic and deeply embedded into how we do business,” said senior director of Adidas India Sunil Gupta. “Run for the Oceans is at the forefront of this commitment to help ‘End Plastic Waste.’

May 11, 2022: Brunello Cucinelli has joined the Sustainable Markets Initiative (SMI), conceived and chaired by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, whose major objective is to build a coordinated global effort to enable the private sector to accelerate the transition to a sustainable future. Cucinelli was quick to join The Fashion Task Force chaired by Federico Marchetti – which aims to produce positive effects on climate and nature – and has committed to work streams dedicated to regenerative farming, as well as to economically supporting local textile producers through the Himalayan Regenerative Fashion Living Lab project. This project aims to create sustainable fashion value chains in some areas of the Himalayas. In concrete terms, the project will restore degraded landscapes and recover traditional craft and textile skills in order to improve local cashmere, cotton and silk economies, while addressing global challenges related to climate change and loss of biodiversity. The “Himalayan Regenerative Living Lab” project will be carried out in the field by Reforest Action and the Circular Bioeconomy Alliance led by scientist Marc Palahi and will last for a period of two years.

Federico Marchetti, Prince Charles, Brunello Cucinelli
Federico Marchetti, Prince Charles and Brunello Cucinelli at the first SMI project in Rome, Oct. 31, 2021.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Brunello Cucinelli

May 10, 2022: The North Face has teamed up with resale tech company Archive to power the brand’s circular clothing and gear program, Renewed. Archive’s platform integrates with Tersus Solutions, a cleantech and logistics company working to close the loop in textile circularity. According to the company, The North Face Renewed program will utilize Tersus’ proprietary waterless cleaning technology to insure every product meets the quality and performance that’s expected from The North Face with less impact on the planet. Since launching in 2018, The North Face Renewed has diverted over 200,000 pounds of textiles from landfills, and this next phase is designed to accelerate growth and achieve even greater environmental impacts. With Archive’s technology, The North Face now has visibility into the detailed life cycle of a Renewed item, from warehouse arrival through fulfillment, including product identification, cleaning, repairs, and site listing.

The North Face Renewed Collection
An apparel tag from the Renewed Collection from The North Face.
CREDIT: Courtesy of The North Face

May 6, 2022: Sorel and Prana have collaborated on a limited edition collection of footwear and activewear inspired by movement. The Sorel X Prana collaboration features eco-conscious designs and materials, such as a vegan leather alternative, a variety of recycled materials and fabrics, midsoles that use material made with excess algae, and Tencel Modal. The collection brings together style and sustainability with pieces that speak to the adventurous spirit of both brands. The new collection features a casual lifestyle sneaker, a playful, sporty-inspired sandal and an elevated slip-on sandal. The activewear range includes a full collection of bold, colorblocked styles, including a shortie unitard, half-zip anorak, high-neck bralette and leggings with hues of Sea Salt and Desert Sun, inspired by the natural world.

Sorel, prAna
Sorel x Prana collaboration.

May 6, 2022: Leather manufacturer ISA Tan Tec is partnering with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to launch a responsible sourcing policy that targets deforestation and animal welfare in Brazil and Paraguay. ISA Tan Tec first launched its internal LITE Sourcing program in 2020 to make its supply chain management more transparent, ethical and sustainable. Together with WWF, the company will jointly release a responsible sourcing policy for cattlehides to complement its existing protocols. According to the updated standard, all suppliers located in the proximity of the Amazon Biome and Chaco Biome are required to prove that no hides supplied by slaughterhouses originate from the biome or other places where deforestation is an issue. Additionally, they must align with the Five Animal Freedom principles, which include freedom from hunger and thirst; pain, injury and disease; fear and distress; and others.

April 2022: Visit FN’s Earth Month roundup for all the news about sustainable initiatives in April.

April 1, 2022: Hunter has launched its new sustainable Algae Bloom collection. Consisting of the Bloom Sandals and the Boom Slides, the collection was developed in a part of the brand’s “Hunter Protect” eco-conscious goals. The Algae Bloom collection introduces a new material that is harvested from algae. By using algae as opposed to other substances, the process saves water, reduces CO2 emissions, and utilizes excess algae growth that would have harmed ecosystems if left unmanaged. The result is a flexible, waterproof lower impact material which is lightweight and durable.  This is injection molded with familiar blown EVA to form a sporty all-terrain sandal as well as a slip-on slide. Both options are available in classic solid colors and a revamped version of last year’s hit one-of-a-kind Marble style. Launching on Hunterboots.com, the Bloom Sandals can be found in women’s sizing between $65 and $70, and the Boom Slides will be available in men’s and women’s sizing at $50.

Hunter Algae Bloom collection
CREDIT: Courtesy of Hunter

March 28, 2022: Footwear startup Blueview has launched its first shoe, a casual vegan slip-on sneaker that the brand says is 100% biodegradable. The Blueview Pacific is made entirely of plant-based materials. Its knit upper is comprised of yarn made of hemp, cotton, jute and Tencel, while its insole and outsole are crafted out of Blueview’s proprietary compound Soleic, a polyurethane foam derived from algae. The company, based in Cardiff, Calif., was founded by CEO Stephen Mayfield, a biologist specializing in green algae; and president Tom Cooke, a footwear industry veteran previously with Reef and Vans. The first two colorways of the shoe (black and tan) are available for preorder online for $135, with shipping slated for late April.

Blueview Pacific Biodegradable Sneaker
Blueview’s debut Pacific sneaker comes with a removable strap.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Blueview

Feb. 17, 2022: After introducing sustainable footwear options, starting with the Plant Power sandals, Ugg has launched an eco-friendly apparel collection for spring ’22 called Organic Essentials. The nine-style capsule consists of casual T-shirts, leggings, dresses, tanks and shorts made with “mindful materials” such as organic cotton and Tencel Lyocell. “The beauty of the collection is the full versatility. As the world evolves, responsible personal style is what really shines through,” said Khristene Son, Ugg’s senior director of design, apparel and accessories.

Feb. 15, 2022: ESW (formerly eShopWorld) announced on Tuesday that it will provide 100% carbon neutral shipping to its clients, which include Gucci, Kering, Abercrombie & Fitch, LK Bennett, J. Crew, and other leading brands. The global direct-to-consumer e-commerce company said that this new initiative will offset emissions by funding renewable energy production that supports EcoAct-verified wind farm projects. “ESW is proud to offer our retail and brand clients the ability to be at the forefront of sustainable shipping and contribute to a more positive future for the environment,” said ESW CEO Tommy Kelly in a statement. “As cross border e-commerce continues to elevate economies all over the world, we must ensure that what’s good for business is also good for the planet. We know that these offsets create a high level of value for our clients and, in turn, their consumers.”

Feb. 7, 2022: Leather manufacturer ISA TanTec announced its tannery facility in Vicksburg, Miss., has achieved a gold rating from the Leather Working Group. ISA TanTec has four tannery facilities, including one in the U.S., one in China and two in Vietnam. With this latest certification, all now have an LWG gold rating. In a statement, Jens Kaufhold, Mississippi TanTec’s VP of finance and admin, said the process involved adopting best practices from Asia and conducting new training for the U.S. staff. “Furthermore, ideas were generated by the MTL team to improve safety and optimize the use of resources. For example, timers were installed throughout the facility including the office and helped to drastically reduce our energy consumption,” Kaufhold said.

Feb. 2, 2022: Tapestry Inc. and its Coach brand announced on Thursday that they are taking steps to further improve the sustainability of their supply chains through a new partnership with the Savory Institute’s Land to Market Program, the first verified sourcing solution for regenerative agriculture. By utilizing regenerative raw materials that have a net positive impact on the environment, improve biodiversity, and result in a reduction of CO2 emissions. Tapestry and Coach will be able to further reduce its impact on climate change, the companies said in a statement. “While our Coach (Re)Loved collection gives many of our beloved bags a second life, this newly established membership with Land to Market supports the restoration and vitality of the grasslands,” said Todd Kahn, CEO and brand president of Coach, in a statement. We are committed to further reducing our environmental impacts by continuing to engage with our supply chain, and increasing renewable energy, environmentally preferred materials, and traceability.”

Jan. 19, 2022: Maison Valentino is aiming to become more sustainable with the launch of its new “Open for a Change” project. According to the Italian luxury brand, the Open for a Change project will debut with the launch of two signature Valentino sneakers – Open and Rockstud Untitled – redesigned with the partial use of recycled and bio-based materials, a first for the label. Available in a variety of different colorways, these models lay on a foundation of bio-based materials, employed as an alternative to leather produced from viscose and polyurethane of corn-derived polyols. These materials partially make up the upper of both models and part of the Open’s side band; the strings are completely made of recycled polyester, while the Valentino trademark studs on the Rockstud Untitled are also made of recycled nylon. This new environment-centric approach is reflected in the shoe case and the packaging too, which are made of fully recycled cotton and paper, the latter sourced from sustainably-managed forests.

Maison Valentino Open For a Change Sneakers
CREDIT: Courtesy of Valentino

Jan. 14, 2022: Koio is launching its first capsule collection using vegetable-tanned leather sourced from regenerative farms in Surselva, Switzerland. Called Capri Regenerative, the line includes the brand’s bestselling Capri sneaker in the Onyx and Castagna colorways featuring the new finish. The styles will be available in men and women’s sizes and retail for $328 on koio.com starting Jan. 21.

koio capri sneaker
CREDIT: Courtesy of Koio

Jan. 10, 2022: Timberland is aiming to breathe new life into worn items with its new Timberloop take-back program. Through this program, consumers are encouraged to return any used Timberland footwear, clothing, or accessories that will then be reused, recycled, or upcycled into new products, or refurbished for sale on a dedicated web site launching later this spring. Clearly marked donation boxes have been installed in each full price and outlet Timberland store, complemented by a convenient digital ship-from-home option. Beyond helping preserve the planet, participants in the Timberloop program will receive a 10% discount toward their next purchase. Timberland added that it aims for 100% of its products to be designed for full circularity by 2030. And on Earth Day (April 22), the brand will unveil the Timberloop Trekker City Hiker, its latest eco-innovation specifically designed for circularity. Along with sneaker-like comfort and a progressive outdoor look, this city hiker features a unique sole construction whereby the outsoles can be easily removed and disassembled for recycling through the Timberloop platform.

Timberloop by Timberland
CREDIT: Courtesy of Timberland

Jan. 7, 2022: A new bill is making some headway in the New York State Senate this week. Called the “Fashion Sustainability and Social Accountability Act” (or Fashion Act), the new piece of legislation that was first drafted in October has reached the Senate’s Consumer Protection committee this week. The bill, if passed, would make New York the first state in the country to pass legislation that will effectively hold the biggest brands in fashion accountable for their role in climate change. Sponsored by State Senator Alessandra Biaggi and Assemblywoman Anna R. Kelles, the bill requires fashion retail sellers and manufacturers to disclose environmental and social due diligence policies; establishes a community benefit fund for the purpose of implementing one or more environmental benefit projects that directly and verifiably benefit environmental justice communities.

Big Initiatives in 2021

Dec. 20, 2021: Alibaba Group has pledged to achieve carbon neutrality in its own operations by 2030. The company also introduced a Scope 3+ target, which will help the company achieve 1.5 gigatons of decarbonization by 2035. “We aspire to be a force for positive, innovative change in society. Our ESG strategy is predicated on our mission to be a good company that will live for 102 years and it is the vital foundation for Alibaba’s future development,” said Daniel Zhang, chairman and CEO of Alibaba Group.

Nov. 18, 2021: Macy’s will soon sell shoes from Stardog Loungewear on Macy.com and in stores, expanding its commitment sourcing products made from sustainable materials. Stardog is known for offering sustainable sneakers made of 100% hemp. Starting Dec. 1, Macy’s will launch the collection with the Startonic House Shoe and Expedition Sneaker with plans to expand to include more products in the future.

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