Like the company, PUMA’s Suede shoe has evolved with the times. The Suede wore well with Star Wars T-shirts and bell bottoms in the 70s; break dancing and big hair of the 80s; and the grunge, alternative, and complaint rock scene of the 90s. With colors in every hue and wide fat laces, the Suede was a must for the post-boomer generation from morning school classes to the wee hours at nightclubs–and ranks highly with Vans and Reebok aerobics shoes in fashion history. Now the Suede has been re-birthed with PUMA’s introduction last week of the “Re-Suede,” redesigned with recycled materials.
The Re-Suede is another step in PUMA’s strategy to become a more environmental and socially conscious company while pushing the envelope of cool design. From issuing an environmental profit and loss statement; to reducing toxins within its product line; to the launch of a shrunken and plant-based plastic bag, PUMA is outpacing its competitors in the sustainability race. All of these steps will help the company meet its goal to have half of its collection manufactured out of sustainable materials by 2015.
According to PUMA, designers revamped every aspect of the Re-Suede with environmental impacts in mind. The upper, sockliner, linings, and even the laces are all made from 100 percent recycled materials. Toray Industries created the synthetic suede material, which is made out of recycled polyester fibers. According to Toray, its chemical recycling process slashes energy consumption and carbon emissions by 80 percent compared to similar processes that create suede out of virgin materials.
The sole will also score points with eco-fashionistas and vegan shoe mavens. Double R Rice Rubber replaces 10 percent of the rubber content with a rice husk filler, which is a byproduct of the food industry. The reformulated outsole still has the same durability, slip resistance, and abrasion resistant properties, according to Jones & Vining, the product’s manufacturer.
In addition to performance, PUMA touts the light weight of the Re-Suede. The shoe is a tad over five ounces (140 grams) lighter than the original, which PUMA says can contribute to a reduction of fifteen tons of carbon emissions for every 1000 pairs shipped. And finally, the Re-Suede will be available online later this fall and in stores by early 2012, packed in PUMA’s Clever Little Bag that will replace traditional cardboard shoeboxes this fall. From supply chain to manufacturing to transport, the PUMA sets the standard for cool eco-friendly athletic gear. And, forty years later, they are still cool.
Photo courtesy of PUMA; content of article from email conversations with PUMA’s internal communications team.
Leon Kaye still cannot figure out which decade, the 70s, 80s, or 90s, were his formative years. He is a consultant, writer, and editor of GreenGoPost.com and also contributes to The Guardian Sustainable Business; you can follow him on Twitter. He lives in Silicon Valley.