New Balance, Wolverine Worldwide and other leading shoe companies announce their commitment to work with NFW’s unparalleled ecosystem of plastic-free performance material solutions to drive the industry toward naturally circular, sustainable footwear. These industry leaders are part of NFW’s rapidly growing Footwear Collective to promote widespread adoption of low carbon, biobased materials that are safe to return to the earth at the end of a product’s life.
“New Balance recognizes that addressing our climate impact requires innovation, especially when it comes to materials. We have been working closely with NFW to develop plastic-free, low-impact materials that help accelerate us towards our corporate sustainability goals. Specifically, NB is developing pinnacle performance footwear in 2024 that leverages NFW’s CLARUS® natural yarns,” says Katy O’Brien, Senior Manager of Innovation at New Balance. “NFW materials consider every stage of the material lifecycle – from sourcing natural and recycled ingredients to manufacturing with renewable energy and green chemistry to enabling end-of-life composting or recycling. NFW’s material breakthroughs are revolutionizing the way the entire industry makes, uses, and ‘disposes’ of products.”
NFW and Wolverine Worldwide previously collaborated on a version of their iconic Chaco shoe, replacing previously polyester components with CLARUS® to achieve synthetic-equivalent performance durability using only natural inputs.
“Wolverine Worldwide is committed to sustainability. One of our goals is to reduce and responsibly manage our environmental impact, as we believe the steps we take today can reduce our footprint tomorrow. As we work toward this goal, we actively seek out sustainable materials and components for our products,” said Barry McGeough, Global VP of Innovation for Wolverine Worldwide. “While there are numerous leather alternatives vying for our industry’s attention, NFW’s material innovation stands alone in its ability to be a petroleum-free material durable enough for use in footwear, making it a desirable choice”
“In Camper, our biggest fight is against waste and most of all against plastic waste that is not biodegradable and that releases dangerous microplastics into the environment. NFW’s innovative approach and commitment toward the reduction of virgin plastic through long-lasting solutions stands out for Camper. Performance and durability are key attributes when using only natural-based solutions which aligns with our own company policies,” says Cecilia Llorens Bobadilla, Product Design Director Camper. “The discovery of NFW material was a turning point for Camper as such a great discovery that aligns with our objectives from a sustainability and innovation perspective. We believe a lot in this collaboration and in the potential of working more together in the future.”
Through the Footwear Collective, NFW and its partners will reduce impact across the value chain. Partners include Allbirds, Wolverine Worldwide, Camper, Deckers, and Ralph Lauren. These brands, New Balance, and smaller partners are actively engaged with NFW on product launches and development with NFW’s ecosystem of plastic-free, naturally circular materials.
MIRUM® has already gained international traction with myriad products in the market across footwear, bags, and accessories with more brands slated to launch products by the end of 2023. Initial life cycle assessments for MIRUM® indicate that it is an order of magnitude less GHG intensive to produce relative to plastic-based leather alternatives (such as polyurethane and bio polyurethane) or conventional leather. Meanwhile, CLARUS® natural woven fabrics meet the stringent performance criteria for shoe uppers that are normally only possible to achieve with petroleum-based synthetics, creating new applications for recycled natural fibers in footwear.
“At Deckers, we strive to make products that are mindful of our environmental resources. We recognize that if we want to significantly reduce our environmental footprint, we must focus on prioritizing preferred materials including recycled, renewable, regenerated, and natural. Our relationship with NFW is a natural evolution of this commitment,” says Brooke Beshai, Sr. Director of Sustainability at Deckers Brands. “We’re innovating to help combat the challenges of climate change by designing mindful products and collaborating across the industry to reduce our collective footprint.”
“NFW’s engineers have worked tirelessly to develop a natural solution for nearly every component of a shoe,” says Dr. Luke Haverhals, founder, and CEO of NFW. “We’ve been on this journey since 2015 with some of our earliest partners – like Allbirds, Camper, and Deckers – who have lent their invaluable insight. With their collaboration and deep alignment with our sustainability vision, we have kept iterating to deliver what the footwear industry needs and what consumers demand that simultaneously achieves our uncompromising sustainability standards: zero plastic, low carbon, renewable, nutrient-based, and naturally circular. We are proud to have multiple products in market around the world with more launches on the way with our new partners.”
In early September 2022, Allbirds launched the Plant Pacer, a new lifestyle silhouette featuring Plant Leather made with MIRUM®, NFW’s plastic-free, 100% biobased leather alternative.NFW expects to announce other key brand partners to the Footwear Collective throughout the year. Several footwear launches are scheduled for 2022, with major increases in footwear volume through 2023 as additional production capacity becomes available.
Natural Fiber Welding (NFW) is a material science innovation company giving industries categorically new material solutions to create responsibly. NFW invents and manufactures shockingly sustainable products from nutrients. Beginning with naturally circular, biobased ingredients, NFW is making a material-rich, plastic-free future possible. NFW was founded in 2015 and is based in Peoria, Illinois.
CLARUS® 100% natural textiles unlock previously unachievable performance. Quick-drying, moisture-wicking, warp-knit compatible: CLARUS® makes it possible naturally. The CLARUS® platform works with both recycled and virgin fibers, closing critical gaps in the circular economy. CLARUS® runs on closed-loop green chemistry that enables new efficiencies while delivering unequaled performance.
MIRUM® is a categorically new, plant-based material that is perfect for footwear, fashion, automotive, and accessories. MIRUM®’s miraculous customizability means it can look like leather or carbon fiber. MIRUM®is a high-performance solution for designers and brands looking to shrink their footprint and expand their creative palettes. At the end of its life, MIRUM® can be recycled into new MIRUM® or ground up and returned to the earth: At last, a climate-friendly, plastic-free option.
About New Balance
New Balance, headquartered in Boston, MA has the following mission: Demonstrating responsible leadership, we build global brands that athletes are proud to wear, associates are proud to create and communities are proud to host. Manufactured in the U.S. for more than 75 years and representing a limited portion of our U.S. sales, New Balance MADE U.S. is a premium collection that contains a domestic value of 70% or greater. New Balance owns five factories in New England and one in Flimby, U.K. New Balance employs more than 7,000 associates around the globe, and in 2021 reported worldwide sales of $4.4 billion.
About Wolverine Worldwide
Founded in 1883 on the belief in the possibility of opportunity, Wolverine Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE: WWW) is one of the world’s leading marketers and licensors of branded casual, active lifestyle, work, outdoor sport, athletic, children’s and uniform footwear and apparel. Through a diverse portfolio of highly recognized brands, our products are designed to empower, engage and inspire our consumers every step of the way. The company’s portfolio includes Merrell®, Saucony®, Sweaty Betty®, Sperry®, Hush Puppies®, Wolverine®, Keds®, Chaco®, Bates®, HYTEST®, and Stride Rite®. Wolverine Worldwide is also the global footwear licensee of the popular brands Cat® and Harley-Davidson®. Based in Rockford, Michigan, for more than 130 years, the company’s products are carried by leading retailers in the U.S. and globally in approximately 170 countries and territories.
Camper is a Spanish brand dedicated to creating seasonal footwear collections that combine design, innovation, and responsible natural materials with more than 145 years of shoemaking heritage. Located in the heart of the Mediterranean, the brand is committed to upholding the same creative spirit and traditional values that have defined it since its inception. Meaning “peasant” in the local dialect, Camper embraces the austerity, simplicity and discretion of the rural world. A respect for art and craftsmanship anchors the Camper promise to create timeless, high-quality products with a consideration of the social and environmental impact of each, from first sketch to final product. Recognized as a Certified B Corp, Camper forms part of a select group of companies committed to creating a positive impact on people and the planet, using business as a force for good and producing benefits for teams, communities, and the environment. Now run by its fourth generation, Camper continues to be an independent family-run business, offering products online, in-store, and via a select distribution network reaching around the globe.
About Deckers Brands
Deckers Brands is a global leader in designing, marketing and distributing innovative footwear, apparel and accessories developed for both everyday casual lifestyle use and high performance activities. The Company’s portfolio of brands includes UGG®, KOOLABURRA®, HOKA ONE ONE®, Teva®, and Sanuk®. Deckers Brands products are sold in more than 50 countries and territories through select department and specialty stores, Company-owned and operated retail stores, and select online stores, including Company-owned websites. Deckers Brands has over 40 years of history building niche footwear brands into lifestyle market leaders attracting millions of loyal consumers globally.
About Allbirds, Inc.
Headquartered in San Francisco, Allbirds is a global lifestyle brand that innovates with naturally derived materials to make better footwear and apparel products in a better way, while treading lighter on the planet. The Allbirds story began with superfine New Zealand merino wool and has since evolved to include eucalyptus tree fiber knit fabric, sugarcane-based EVA SweetFoam®, castor bean oil-based SwiftFoamTM, and Plant Leather. Allbirds serves customers across 35 countries through 46 Allbirds stores and its e-commerce website.