Shoemakers are getting really creative with their concepts these days. From using recycled plastic from the Maldives to debuting 3D-printed textiles, footwear brands are constantly finding new ways to attract us to their products. This week, Reebok released the first iteration of its plant-based shoe made from cotton and corn. Yes, the vegetable.
Taking steps to create more sustainable products, Reebok partnered with DuPont Tate & Lyle Bio Products, a manufacturer of high-performance biobased solutions, to create the Cotton + Corn initiative. The program is all about offering items derived from “things that grow.”
“Most athletic footwear is made using petroleum to create synthetic rubber and foam cushioning systems,” said Bill McInnis, head of Reebok Future. “With 20 billion pairs of shoes made every year, this is not a sustainable way of making footwear. At Reebok, we thought ‘what if we start with materials that grow, and use plants rather than oil-based materials?’ By using sustainable resources as our foundation, and then through ongoing testing and development, we were able to create a plant-based sneaker that performs and feels like any other shoe.”
Although not a performance shoe, the NPC UK Cotton + Corn lifestyle sneaker is still pretty interesting itself. Made from 100-percent cotton with a corn-based TPU sole, its insoles are derived from castor bean oil while its materials are undyed. Plus, the kicks come neatly packaged in 100-percent recycled materials. Currently, the shoe is the only one of its kind on the market that has been certified as containing 75 percent USDA-certified, biobased content.
“This is just the start for us. We are on an ongoing path to create a different type of footwear – so that you can feel good about what you’re wearing and where it came from,” said McInnis.
The unisex shoe currently only comes in one color: natural with a leather accents on the heel and tongue. The NPC UK Cotton + Corn is available for purchase in limited quantities on Reebok’s website and retails for $95.