Since their inception, sneakers have undergone an evolution of sorts. From being a pivotal element in gym bags, a piece that ran parallel with notions of cool, a tool of making a sartorial statement to ethical forms—the transition is notable. And the fact remains that everybody loves a good pair of kicks. Pair them with athleisure, prairie dresses and more recently, your wedding ensemble—they just happen to work with every silhouette.
Amalgamating this versatile nature of sneakers with a fashion moment that calls for sustainability as the ultimate need of the hour, sneaker brands have transformed themselves as pioneers of change. From innovating fungi fashion for realms of footwear, making use of plant-based fibres, to simply experimenting with alternatives—change is on the horizon.
When sportswear giants took the leadership to champion sustainable sneakers, designers from across the world followed in their footsteps. From Rick Owens’ banana oil kicks to Nike’s refurbished versions, here are the latest ethical sneaker drops you ought to know.
Fungi as a trend has been blooming quite literally. While some are using it to whip up their coffee, others are incorporating it into their skincare regimen. And more recently, the humble fungus has found its way into fashion. Proof? Adidas’ new Stan Smith Mylo kicks are the first shoe of its kind made out of mushroom-based material. With help from the biotechnology company Bolt Threads, the lab developed a material called Mylo, made out of mycelium—the underground roots of mushrooms.
Adidas Stan Smith Mylo Sneakers
The renewable fabric is flexible, breathable and exceptionally similar to animal-derived leather. This sustainable material was used to create the brand’s iconic three stripes, heel tab overlay, and signature branding.
Mylo fabric made out of mushrooms
Adidas is also introducing a new, conscious line of its UltraBoost sneakers with sustainability in its DNA. The collection titled UBDNA Earth Love Pack features four different styles in adult sizing.
Adidas UltraBoost Sneakers
Each shoe is equipped with Primeblue—a high-performance material made out of ocean plastic waste collected from beaches and coastal communities. Almost 75% of the textile used on the shoe is this Primeblue yarn, while 25% of its construction features abandoned fishing nets!
Keeping in line with its brand ethos, Nike will now be refurbishing returned shoes to reduce consumer waste and production impact on the environment. Here’s how the process will go: the brand will allow any and all sneakers or shoes to be returned within their 60-day return window. The shoes will then be inspected with defects or faulty parts and then be completely renovated by hand.
The best part? Nike will put these refurbished kicks back on sale with lower price tags to make them more affordable for consumers and sneaker enthusiasts. Simple and conscious, this effort will reduce the increase in landfill waste as the brand will reduce its dumping.
3. Rick Owens X Veja
American born, Paris-based fashion designer Rick Owens is collaborating with Veja, a French footwear and accessories brand, for a line of eco-friendly kicks. Blending in both the fashion houses’ aesthetic and signature style, the duo has worked together on the Runner Style 2 to create three updated colourways.
Rick Owens X Veja sustainable sneakers
The sneakers will be crafted with 100% recycled polyester on the upper, along with 57% sugarcane, 5% banana oil, 30% Amazonian rubber and 31% rice waste on the midsole.
While the fast-fashion brand features its own conscious collection in stores along with recycling efforts in place, H&M is now venturing into producing ethical footwear. The brand is collaborating with London-based label—Good News (a conscious shoe brand) for a unisex range of eco-friendly sneakers. This collaborative collection will feature shoes made out of Bananatex, which is derived from banana fibres. The white sneakers, in particular, will feature Vegea, which refers to leather made out of wine grape waste. These materials are a great alternative that looks and feels remarkably similar to animal leather.
HM X Good News eco-friendly sneakers
The collection will also use recycled thermoplastic rubber, organic and recycled textile cotton, and bloom algae. With seven sneakers on its roster, bookmark these kicks if you gravitate towards the iconic seventies’ aesthetic.
As a part of its sustainability initiative, Reebok will be launching a line featuring two sustainable sneakers—the Nano X1 Vegan and the Floatride Energy GROW. Both the plant-based kicks will be available in sizes for men and women while providing utmost comfort.
Reebok X1 Vegan sneakers Nano
With the use of materials responsibly sourced from eucalyptus bark, castor bean oil, bloom algae, natural rubber, and recycled polyester, this launch marks the brand’s effort towards an eco-friendly future. Who knew veganism would pave its way into our shoes?
Reebok Floatride Energy GROW sneakers.
What are your thoughts on the rise of sustainable sneakers?
Photographs: Instagram, Unsplash