Innovative Sneakers That Are Worth The Wait List
Image: Stella McCartney x Adidas
Sneakers have long been at the forefront of fashion innovation, not to mention the source of many waiting lists. Innovation and sustainability go hand in hand. Here are the most innovative sneakers that we believe are worth the wait list.
Around 300 million pairs of running shoes are thrown away in the UK alone each year. Inevitably, they end up in landfill or an incinerator. We really get through them, literally. In order to be hard wearing, our sneakers are made from a variety of materials including rubber, leather and of course glue to hold everything together. Having this many material elements makes them impossible to recycle. Added to this is the constant search for better performing, more cushioning and breathable materials. Therefore when creating ever more sustainable and circular footwear, innovation is inevitably at the forefront of the design effort. Several brands are at the forefront of this effort. Here are our favourite new sneaker releases.
Known for her long term technical sportswear collaboration with Adidas, (15 years to be precise) it should come as no surprise that Stella is upping the anti yet again. This time lending her unique vision to the Alpha Edge 4D. The crocheted running shoe has been developed using years of data collected from runners. Featuring recycled polyester upper that offers great support and world first 4D printed printed soles. This technique not only minimises waste but the continental tyre technology provides grip on wet or dry surfaces. All of this innovation not only makes the Alpha Edge 4D very sustainable but also lightweight and long wearing.
It’s shaping up to be an impressive season for Nike. From Earth Day, they will release several new iterations of their classics, but with an sustainable twist. The Nike Air Force 1, Blazer Low and Cortez come in Nike’s innovative Flyleather. Crafted using reclaimed leather otherwise lost in the production line, it’s 40% lighter than leather and more abrasion resistant. They have also dabbled in natural plant dyes. The Plant Collection will consist of Air Max 95 and Blazer Low styles but in new canvas uppers dyed using plants. However we don’t know alot about how sustainable other elements of the trainers are. Neither collection has addressed the materials used to create soles, laces and linings so watch this space.
Having pledged to make their entire supply chain free of virgin plastic by 2021, Everlane had the goal of creating the world’s lowest impact trainers. Enter the Tread. With uppers made from ethically sourced leather, recycled polyester laces and lining, plus a sole made from a combination of natural and recycled rubber, oh and 5.8% virgin plastic. Unfortunately Everlane admit that they have yet to find a solution to create rubber soles that don’t degrade through wear without plastic. In order to cancel out the energy intensive use of leather and plastic in this style, the Tread is carbon neutral thanks to a programme the company have set up with Native Energy to offset 100% of the emissions produced.
Having worked with Parley for the Oceans on previous sustainable styles, Adidas recently announced the game changing fully recyclable Futurecraft Loop Sneaker. It won’t be available until 2021 but we think it’s worth the wait. Adidas have concentrated exclusively on closing the loop and creating a sneaker style that is recyclable. This is so hard to do as an average shoe is made up of lots of different materials and the glue often renders trainers unrecyclable. The Futurecraft Loop is created from one material, thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) polymers to be precise. It takes various forms in this style but crucially the polymer can be fused without glue. While Adidas recently announced the product, even gifting it to a small group of people, the delay in getting the style to market is simply because Adidas have yet to figure out how to scale production.
While this isn’t technically a new style release, we thought this deserved a special mention. Allbirds have proved themselves to be game changers when it comes to material innovation. Never one to rest on their laurels, the brand have announced that they are going 100% carbon neutral with the Allbirds Carbon Fund. This will be a self imposed internal carbon tax that will be used to fund emission reduction projects. And better yet, Allbirds loyal customers will get a say in which projects the money goes towards. So if you were worried that your Tree Toppers or Wool Runners weren’t sustainable enough, this will surely put your mind to rest. We hope more companies follow suit.
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