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Opinion

”The Circular Lifestyle Concept is important for us and our consumers”

After a very rainy and muddy trail-run in Stockholm, I finally have the opportunity to chat with the inspirational product line manager at Salomon, Brent James, Global Product Line Manager Running. Our discussion is about the development of the new Index01 runner and the future of building a sustainable footwear brand.    

Finding new ways of developing more sustainable footwear has never been more important. In the past, most consumers would not have thought much about exactly how their sneakers were made, but that is no longer the case. In addition to demanding trend-setting styles, co-labs and innovations, the educated consumers of today expect products to be made responsibly. And as consumers become more educated about environmental issues, brands also become more incentive to sustainable innovation and Salomon as a brand that is born from the love of nature is part of leading this change. 

Where did you get the idea to create Index 01 from? 

— Within Salomon, the Product Innovation and Product Development Teams have a passion for nature and thus know how important it is for us to find more sustainable ways to create products. It’s also important to our consumers, as lovers of the outdoors. The circular lifecycle concept inspired our teams to think about what a product, in this case, a shoe, can become after it reaches the end of its life.  That is the moment they asked: what other products share the same materials?  Being a multisport expert meant we did not have to look far, from running to ski boots.

”I feel the Salomon community and runners, in general, have been waiting for brands to step up and deliver products with sustainability in mind”

How was the design R&D process when bridging the use of materials for shoes and boots in the same Life Cycle? 

— It was a multi-stage process.  The initiative began as an innovation project which culminated in the launch of our Concept Shoe.  From there, the Inline Product Team took learnings from that project to create the shoe that will come to market, the Index.01.  This stage, of course, meant that we needed to pivot in order to make it feasible for production and to deliver a running shoe with the performance attributes expected from Salomon.

How is the first response and what insights did you rely on when starting the project?  

— The project has not yet hit the market, but the reaction to our launch has been very positive.  I feel the Salomon community and runners, in general, have been waiting for brands to step up and deliver products with sustainability in mind.  We’ve seen other brands also share their take on ways to improve the environmental impact of their products.  We think its a good thing that it appears to not only be a trend, but the beginning of a movement.

Could you share any challenges from behind the scenes? 

— The biggest challenges have been in establishing the collection and recycling infrastructure.  It’s an ongoing effort and we will, of course, learn a lot as we get closer to the retail introduction in 2021.  Overall, throughout the process we have found ways to celebrate the wins!  Finally seeing the finished shoe and sharing it with everyone has been incredible.

What’s next? How does Index01 fit into Salomon Sustainability plan for the long run? 

— We see the Index.01 as establishing a benchmark for Salomon.  Our goal is to take the learnings and best practices from this project to inform all of our future footwear projects.  We have set a target of using at least one circular principal in each of our new products by 2025.  

Categories
Feature

Have these 4 sneaker brands cracked the sustainability code?

With over 23 billion pairs of sneakers being produced every year, the sneaker industry is bigger than ever. What many consumers miss during their search for a new pair, is that the industry is also one of the least evolved lifestyle sectors in regard to sustainability. Over 300 million pairs of sneakers are being thrown out annually to landfill, and, a lot of brands still think that fast-paced hyped drops, low price points, and quick growth is the key to success within a highly competitive sneaker world. 

In the past, most consumers would not have thought much about exactly how their sneakers were made, but that is no longer the case. In addition to demanding trend-setting styles, co-labs, and innovations, the educated consumers of today expect products to be made responsibly.

And as consumers become more educated about environmental issues, brands also become more incentive to sustainable innovation. Below you’ll find four brands that are trying to set a new standard, and, crack the sustainability code, by making sneakers with innovative, eco-friendly materials and more sustainable production methods and kick-ass afterlife programs.

And it is performance runners made by Swedish Icebug, ON running, Salomon, and Reebok that is running for change. These are your new go-to runners/sneakers.

Reebok Forever Floatride GROW 

Real plant-based performance 

— The earth is a runner’s arena, and we have a responsibility to help detox the world for the athletes who run in it, said Matt O’Toole, Reebok Brand President.

— Our consumers have told us they want more sustainable products, and the running community has been the most vocal and passionate on this issue. We want to help runners perform at their best, while also feeling good about the products they wear.

Ingredient list: 

Castor Beans: Energy return and lightweight

One of the best parts of the shoe is its highly cushioned, responsive midsole, which is built from sustainably grown castor beans. 

Eucalyptus bark: Breathability

The eucalyptus tree upper is mesh, naturally biodegradable, and strong.

Bloom algae: Comfortable cushioning

The sockliner utilizes bloom algae foam to provide a comfortable footbed. The algae is also naturally odor-resistant.

Natural rubber outsole: Flexible and durable

The natural rubber outsole gives flexible traction and durability. It’s sustainably sourced from real rubber trees, rather than the petroleum-based rubber featured in other performance products.

Icebug Outrun RB9X

Scale down the unnecessary, scale up sustainability

— OutRun RB9X combines the best of two worlds. It has the traction and ground control needed for technical trails but at the same time extraordinary amounts of comfort, which makes it easy to use for several hours of running. OutRun is a great addition to the Icebug shoe family, says Karin Möller, creative director and head of design at Icebug.

One of the highlights from the Swedish brand Icebug is the Outrun RB9X®. Outrun is Scandinavian design made with simplicity in mind. No added polyurethane pieces, big foam prints, or unnecessary solutions. Everything added has a function. By choosing a greener factory with solar panels, more sustainable materials, and overcompensating for their carbon emissions to get a climate positive shoe, Icebug has created a real sustainable trail running shoe.

Salomon Index01

A running shoe designed for after life  

— Salomon’s unique expertise across multiple sports categories, coupled with a passion for the environment has led to the development of this exciting new shoe, Michael White, the company’s president, said in a statement.

— When the Salomon Index.01 was presented internally, the audience burst into spontaneous applause as the dream of a performance Salomon running shoe that is fully recyclable became reality.

The Salomon Index01 is the result of 3 years of research and development at Salomon’s Annecy Design Center in the French Alps. The goal of the project is to reduce material waste and lessen the environmental impact of footwear by using circular lifecycle principles. The result is a shoe made of two primary materials: recycled polyester and nitrogen-infused, thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) foam called INFINIRIDE. At the end of its life, regional recycling programs disassemble the recycled polyester upper and the TPU bottom unit to be recycled again.

ON-running Cyklon 

The running shoe you will never own 

— The Cyclon service is a groundbreaking new way to become more sustainable, while also ensuring the running performance is never compromised for our customers, On co-founder Caspar Coppetti, said in a statement.

— Customers who sign-up today will be the first ones to get the latest in sustainable running technology.

ON has launched a sustainable, subscription-based running shoe initiative dubbed Cyklon that’s centered around a recyclable silhouette of the same name. Now the Swiss footwear company is looking to break new ground with the earth-first inatitive.

Customers can sign up for Cyclon subscription service at on-running.com/cyclon. A deposit of $29.99 USD is required for entry, and the Cyclon running shoe will be available exclusively via the service in the latter half of 2021.