Everlane Aims To Tread Lightly With Eco-Focused Shoe Line

by Rudy Sanchez on 05/18/2020 | 3 Minute Read

Everlane is well known in the fashion world for its commitment to radical transparency. Not only do they strive to make clothes that will stand the test of time, but they partner with ethical factories. Now, they released an entirely different kind of shoe.

Everlane recently launched Tread, a shoe they envisioned to have the lowest environmental impact. The brand carbon offsets their production to zero, and they reduced the amount of virgin plastic that goes into the shoes by 54%, while the tanneries that produce the leather is certified Gold by the Leather Working Group for its sustainability operation. 

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Just like all of Everlane's other products, they only used high-quality materials, designing shoes that come in classic styles, hopefully reducing the total number of shoes they need to produce. The brand considered every aspect of the build, including the packaging, which is entirely plastic-free and made of compostable or recyclable materials.

"The packaging that we used for this project has two materials," explains Mark John Mangayayam, a graphic designer that was part of the Tread packaging project. "100% Recycled Cardboard and Green Cell Foam made from corn. The whole project brief was meant to challenge us to create an interesting unboxing experience that did not use any plastic."

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Tread’s box has a premium look with a dark exterior. Unfolding the top reveals the shoes posed at different angles to highlight the top and sides as they sit in the compostable foam. Once open, you'll find a tab that reads "lift here," underneath of which holds all of the pertinent information for disposing of the packaging. You can put the foam in your compost bin, or you can dissolve it in warm water; the box, obviously, can get recycled.

"The most unique aspect of this project was the fact that we were able to create packaging that was 100% compostable or recyclable, and it shows the possibility of reducing the carbon footprint of packaging products," Mark John says.

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"Every detail of the project was kept in mind when we were thinking of the end product of this package," he adds. "The cardboard was created with 100% recycled content, and the ink that was used on the package is algae-based."

Ultimately, Everlane wants to prove that your typical shoe can get made more sustainably. While the brand is still trying to cut down on the virgin plastic used in manufacturing, they're finding new ways to use ocean plastic as well, incorporating it into the making of the shoelaces and the linings. 

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Even Nike is trying to find more ethical ways of making shoes. This past February, they announced the creation of Space Hippie, a shoe made from factory floor scraps and what they call "space waste yarn," a combination of plastic bottles, t-shirts, and yarn that would otherwise go to waste."

But what's best of all, these sustainable practices also find themselves applied to the packaging as well, utilizing new materials that can literally disappear, just with the right amount of warm water.

“This project brought a lot of learnings when it came to the impact of packaging design within the environment," Mark John said. "Sustainable packaging options are out there. You just have to find them."

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