Shoe brands make use of upcycled materials

As the fashion industry undergoes a sustainable shift, brands are developing creative ways to show their commitment to this cause. Recently, shoe brands are doing their part to be eco-conscious by using upcycled materials in their lines, mitigating waste and aligning with young consumers’ passion for purchases that are stylish and sustainable.


This August, Converse will release Renew Denim, a line of the brand’s classic high-top sneakers that are made with upcycled, sustainable denim. The shoes will retail for $90 and come in light, medium, or dark wash options. Converse will manufacture hundreds of thousands of Renew Denim shoes initially, but plans to scale this venture even further as it develops the capability to use other types of upcycled textiles in its designs. Just as jeans become highly personal to the wearer, Converse hopes that each pair of its Renew Denim sneakers will feel special to customers.


Nat-2 shoe designer Sebastian Thies teamed up with a German bio-engineer to develop a patented felt material made from upcycled milk by blending milk fibers with wool fibers to form a soft, antibacterial, temperature-regulating, and ultimately sustainable textile. Nat-2 became the first brand to use milk fibers in its footwear when it released a high- and low-top sneaker and two styles of house slippers made with this natural milk-felt. The sneakers retail for 299 euros while the slippers retail for 120 euros.


Buzzy direct-to-consumer footwear startup Rothy’s crafts its shoes with a 3D knitting process that uses a yarn made from sterilized and melted recycled plastic water bottles. What’s more, every step in the brand’s product development process speaks to Rothy's sustainable ethos: the production process was designed to yield little waste, the brand works on a much shorter timeline to develop its styles (which helps avoid overproduction), and the shoes are made to be durable and machine-washable, meaning customers have the ability to wear them for longer instead of constantly having to repurchase shoes as they wear them out.