Natural rubber plantations

OUR MATERIAL PARTNERSHIP WITH NATURE

OUR COMPOSTABLE NATURAL RUBBER

The sole is the heart of any sneaker and it’s around this unique foundation that we’ve crafted a plastic-free and uniquely comfortable sole, and insole, from hand-poured natural rubber collected from old forests and certified FCS village producers. 

Once it has been shredded this sole unit will break down into organic materials in ordinary composting, but only after it has served a long and useful life.   

Our unique production process uses 100% natural rubber which during curing creates an alveolar microstructure of tiny networked air bubbles for ultimate bio-mechanical flexibility.

WAES WHITE COMPOSTABLE ORGANIC TANNED METAL FREE LEATHER WITH RED NATURAL GUM SOLE

CARBON POSITIVE SOLES

It takes a single tree 20 days to produce enough sap for one of our sole units, and another 8 days for the insole. The result is a naturally carbon positive shoe sole in a process doesn't harm the tree and encourages additional carbon sequestration.  

This ancient curing technique dates back to the Maya civilisation, and when allied to a modern production process creates a sole which will act as an organic extension of your foot.

Once these are on your feet you will feel the difference and know you are wearing something unique. 

Natural latex collection for WAES 100% soles

SLOW COOKED SOLES

Our soles start off as liquid rubber which is first poured and solidified in a mould sitting in a 60°C water bath. 

After being cooled the soles are placed on trays in an oven and cooked for a week to expel the excess water.

And this is the slow cooking magic which creates  the trademark Lactae Hevea alveolar microstructure of networked air bubbles. 

Rubber tree latex soles for WAES sneakers plastic free sustainable footwear

STRENGTH IN TREE SAP

Natural rubber is considered to be “self-reinforcing" and combines is more abrasion resistance, comfort and flexibility than the synthetic rubber found on 99% of footwear.  

It has a higher tensile strength and tear resistance than synthetic rubber which is why it is used for demanding high performance roles such as aircraft tyres. Tyres on planes typically use 100% natural rubber, because the synthetic alternative can’t survive the extreme change in temperature on landing.

Natural rubber demonstrates elevated abrasion characteristics vs artificially manufactured rubber. It's just too expensive and time consuming to appeal to fast fashion.

Natural rubber is stronger than plastic rubber

BUT RUBBER SOLES ARE COMMON? 

The terms 'rubber' has come to mean many things, and not much of it is natural. At best it has become standard practise to mix wild rubber with synthetic oil-based materials to create an impossible to recycle compound.

The unfortunate truth is that in a typical pair of 'eco shoes' only 30% will be rubber and 70% of the sole will be a form of artificial plastic. This allows standard plastic-based soles to be produced for around $2 a pair  and allows for inflated margins.

At worst, and most commonly, it's just called 'rubber' despite being made entirely from petrochemicals. 

Natural Rubber tree latex collection
Rubber tree

in partnership with nature

ORGANIC COTTON

Our GOTs Organic Cotton looks after the soil, the air and the people crucial to its production. And whilst not perfect, it's a reasonable starting point for us in a journey to directly producing our own raw materials

Fast and cheap cotton passes the cost onto the farmers health, our environment, soil fertility, biodiversity and the water table. 

Plus it’s easy to forget that the skin is the largest organ of your body. So treat yourself well and be aware of the chemicals present in the material. 

Cotton production has an impact on our world at large, as well as within the communities in which it is grown.

Organic cotton for WAES

ORGANIC-TANNED LEATHER

In world drowning in plastic we have chosen to use a natural waste product (leather) from the meat industry instead of coating organic materials in plastic.

Right now there isn't a leather substitute which is fully biodegradable into organic matter, and most are a complicated mixture of plastic polymers and organics which are impossible to reuse or recycle.

We are working with materials experts to create a plant-based leather replacement, as right now we are not convinced the current available materials pass our compostable criteria in terms of plastic coatings and environmental biodegradability.

the 1970 the first plastic-free sneaker

All of the current leather replacements that are marketed as “biodegradable” break down into microplastics, or contain a high organic content encased in a plasticised matrix to allow it to be workable in production. 

Fundamentally we are committed to using materials which will not be still hanging around in 500 years.    

The leather of the future could well not ever have seen a living animal, instead it could be from Modern Meadow that grows leather like beer, using yeast which instead of producing alcohol, eats sugar and produces the building blocks of leather. 

Our leather is tanned in the most sustainable metal free method and contains no added toxic coatings or fixatives. This isn’t just a choice for the environment but also for the people who produce it. Cheap leather costs lives.    

WAES Plastic free compostable sneaker

THREADS AND GLUE

Standard shoe thread is reinforced with PU. Meaning we had to make our own to ensure it complied with our biodegradable plastic-free philosophy.

Similarly with our glue which is inspired by the Ancient Egyptians who used tree resin as glue. We’re using an incredibly strong and flexible conifer glue which is free from plastic and animal products. 

 

WAES materials hemp stitching and vegan glue