At the end of June a recycled trainer was released, Converse Renew Canvas, with the entire fabric upper section woven from recycled polyester fiber made from old water bottles.
I went to the launch party in Stable Street, Kings Cross London, on behalf of Very* to learn about how trainers can be made from recycled plastic and see them for myself.
The Converse Chuck Taylor All Star has been in production since 1917 and hasn’t really changed since 1949. It is one of the most iconic trainers in the world, proven by the fact a pair was donated to The Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex.
According to the New York Times, Converse sells more than 270,000 pairs a day. That adds up to around 100 million pairs a year, or a little over three pairs a second, so their foray into sustainable fashion is not only impressive but necessary.
How to make sustainable trainers
The first step in the process, unsurprisingly, is ‘Collect & Recycle’. Converse worked with First Mile, a recycling company is east London, to source used plastic bottles.
Step two is ‘Flake & Grind’ during which the plastic bottles are mechanically broken down into flakes, melted and rolled into bales that can be spun into yarn.
Finally, ‘Spin & Weave’, whereby the yarn from the plastic bottles is woven into recycled polyester fabric, which is then used to create the canvas upper section of the trainer and so the Chuck 70 Renew Canvas is formed.
Converse collaborated with students from London schools to create the pop-up event space, using materials to build the structures from nearby recycling plants.
Wooden crates were stacked around the room to display the shoes, which come in black, grey, green and yellow, with a display area to demonstrate the recycling manufacture process. Key messages were emblazoned everywhere, from the Converse themselves to the walls. Phrases like: ‘Life’s too short to waste’, ‘#SPARKPROGRESS’ and ‘the future is plastic’.
Fast fashion is definitely out of trend, and sustainable shopping is not only rising, but environmentally friendly manufacturing and products is now being demanded by consumers. Hopefully more brands will follow suit.
You can buy the new Converse Renew at very.co.uk.