Sandals are getting a sustainable vegan makeover at fashion retailer Old Navy. The San Francisco-based company recently launched women’s plant-based flip-flops and slides featuring an EVA foam outsole made from 51-percent renewable sugarcane. Retailing between $4.99 and $8.99, the sandals are available in classic, T-strap, Jelly Criss-Cross, and Jelly Slide styles. While color palettes and patterns vary among each of the four styles, the sandals can be purchased in ombré, leopard print, and tye-dye patterns as well as solid hues.
With this latest launch, Old Navy aims to offer consumers a sustainable, environmentally conscious shoe choice amid the ongoing climate crisis. “These flip-flops are partially made from renewable sugarcane, which helps cut down on our consumption of fossil fuels,” the product details state. “It looks and feels just like your favorite flip-flops, while helping reduce our carbon footprint.”
Old Navy, Walmart turn sugarcane into vegan wearables
Old Navy isn’t the only retail giant offering consumers sustainable vegan attire made with sugarcane. New intimates brand Kindly recently launched the first-ever plant-based bra cups made from Brazilian sugarcane. Available exclusively at 3,300 Walmart locations and on Walmart’s website, the bras feature 75-percent recycled materials including a proprietary blend of recycled nylon, spandex, and elastic used in the bras’ other components, such as the straps and wings.
The new brand launched with two styles of bras and three styles of bralettes alongside thongs, hipsters, and boyshorts. Designed with comfort in mind, Kindly’s bras boast all-day wearability and hybrid designs, ditching uncomfortable underwires for wire-free, seamless styles that offer a softer feel.
The fashion industry’s plant-based shift
Last year, biotechnology startup Bolt Threads announced a partnership with fashion industry giants Adidas, Stella McCartney, and Kerig—the luxury fashion group that manages brand development for Gucci, Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, and more. Through the partnership, Bolt Threads granted brand partners exclusive access to Mylo, an innovative vegan material made from fast-growing mycelium (mushroom root systems) that the startup crafts into vegan leather. After partnering with Bolt Threads, Adidas unveiled its first Stan Smith sneaker made from mushroom leather and Stella McCartney unveiled the world’s first mushroom leather pants earlier this year. Although neither product is currently available for commercial sale, Adidas expects to launch mushroom leather Stan Smiths in the near future.
While Adidas works toward a commercial launch of its mushroom leather prototypes, the brand continues innovating in the vegan shoe market. Earlier this month, Adidas launched its newest vegan leather Stan Smith style. The shoe, inspired by Miss Piggy, is made using a vegan leather composed of recycled materials and is free from virgin polyester. European-based brands Undo for Tomorrow and Nat-2 are also using recycled materials, such as party balloons and bubble wrap to make vegan shoes.
Like Adidas, fashion retailer H&M is also making strides to provide more sustainable vegan leather fashion. In March, the brand launched its Science Story collection featuring Desserto, an innovative vegan leather made from cactus leaves and developed by Mexican entrepreneurs Adrián López Velarde and Marte Cázarez.
In addition to cactus leaves, plant-based leather can be made from a wide variety of fibers and is typically created from waste byproducts. Producers of these materials are now attracting large suppliers looking to curb their own waste, including food and beverage company Dole Sunshine Company. This month, the company partnered with Ananas Anam—the London-based company behind vegan pineapple leather brand Piñatex—to create plant-based leather from Dole’s harvested pineapple plant leaves.
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