The fashion industry is not the most environmentally conscious, despite numerous attempts to change that. Or at least, rebrand its image. From eco-conscious brands to efforts to recycle or keep its environmental standards high, the bulk of the industry remains a big source of pollution. Waste water, chrome tanning, mining and even the use of leather are a few of its environmental impact.
There are several industry giants looking to change that and Nike is one of them. The brand introduced a new Tennis Classic last night, with a material called Flyleather and it looks great. According to the brand, it’s lighter and more durable than traditional leather, uses less water in the treatment process and reduces waste in one go. But what exactly is it?
Waste Not, Want Not
Leather production is a wasteful process. Since it’s a living material, when leather cutters cut the material for use, they end up wasting a lot of it due to various reasons. There may be a mark on the leather, or the form of the product results in wastage due to shape. While brands try to minimise this (waste is costly), it’s inevitable. Roughly 20 to 30% of the material is wasted in the process of leather cutting.
What Nike is doing is taking that scrap leather from waste and reusing it. They shred it to fibres, and then bind it with a synthetic material with a fabric base and a high pressure water process that fuses everything into a single sheet of material. If you’re a purist, we’ll be honest: the result is roughly 50% leather. But it feels and can be treated in similar ways to leather and is far more durable. It’s also easier to maintain from what we gather and lighter. Sneakerheads will definitely appreciate it.
To test this material, they’ve used a classic shoe: the Tennis Classic. The Flyleather Tennis Classic in all-white will be out soon on nike.com as well as Dover Street Market NYC. We’re waiting to hear if they are planning a DSM Singapore release.
Special editions (50 each) of the Flyleather will also come shortly in the Air Force 1, Air Max 90, Cortez, Tennis Classic and of course, Jordan 1s. These have a rose gold logo and metallic gold lace tips. Unfortunately they are not up for sale: if you’re a US resident, you can take part in its online campaign and win one. But who knows? They might just turn up on other sites soon.