Would you wear wool shoes to save the environment?

date:26.08.2016 by:YDLFN News Team,

Would you wear wool shoes to save the environment?

date: 25.08.2016 by: Diana Arhir via theguardian.com, image credits with courtesy of the theguardian.com

 

 

 

 

 

With a population of 4.6 million people and 29.5 million sheep, New Zealand has roughly six sheep for every person. And now, the wooly beasts are helping drive a new movement: farm-to-foot. Typically, most of our footwear is made from either natural materials (such as leather or canvas), or synthetic, petroleum-based materials (such as rubber, plastic or cloth). Few manufacturers opt for wool, though. Yet, unlike other natural materials, wool can absorb moisture, is breathable and offers a sustainable alternative to rubber, making it perfect for use in footwear. Apparel companies are already taking note. Swiss brand Baabuk now sells wool sneakers; following a recent successful Kickstarter campaign for $170,000, the brand will launch its first US e-commerce site later this year. London-based Mahabis, which sells to American customers online, makes a wool slipper that transforms into an outdoor shoe with a detachable rubber heel. Head of content and partnerships at Mahabis, Alice Apsey, said the clever design has brought the company £10m ($13.1m) in revenue in two years. Perhaps the most iconic wool footwear brand to date is Ugg, an Australian company, whose iconic boots feature an exterior layer of sheepskin and a woolen interior. The bootsbecame popular in Australia in 1970s, particularly with surfers, who loved the fact that they could warm their feet instantly after coming out of the ocean. Back in those days, you could buy a pair of boots at a petrol station for $12. Now, Ugg has become a luxury brand. The boots sell for around $160 all over the US. Capitalizing on consumers’ newfound love of wool footwear, two companies are now taking things a step further, working directly with sheep farmers in New Zealand to source high quality wool for a range of shoes – for both winter and summer.

San Francisco-based Allbirds is redesigning the sneaker: a fine merino wool upper and base made from castor bean oil, a natural substitute for plastic and rubber. The shoe is washable and unbranded. Established by former New Zealand soccer player Tim Brown and renewable materials expert Joey Zwillinger, the company wants to create a classic shoe that’s sustainable as well as stylish and durable.

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