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New London Brand, Purified, Launches Breakthrough Zero-Plastic, Bananatex Shoe

In tests, the bioneutral shoes proved to benefit soil when composted.

On April 22, World Earth Day, Purified launched the Abaca, a zero-plastic sneaker designed to exist within the earth’s natural cycle. The new, London-based sustainable shoe brand uses Bananatex for the style’s upper. This textile canvas is woven from fibers derived from Abaca plants, a kind of banana native to the Philippines.

Purified founder and designer Will Verona created the bioneutral shoes after four years researching materials from the Filipino highlands to biotech labs in the U.S. Every aspect of the shoe is sustainable, including the glue-free binding system co-developed with artisan shoemakers in Portugal.

Abaca plants are self-reliant and don’t require watering or pesticides. Once harvested, fibers from their stalks are woven to create Bananatex, a naturally durable, tough, and water-resistant canvas. The shoes’ outsoles are made from Pliant, a latex sole material produced by Natural Fiber Welding (NFW).  The latex is harvested from the hevea tree in a process that encourages forest regeneration.

Purified also incorporated its foot comfort system inspired by the motion of waves, designed to adapt to natural foot movement. The tread is inspired by patterns found in brain coral to reduce weight and increase grip.

Purified founder Will Verona
“On a factory visit to Sri Lanka, I saw the ugly reality of the landfill crisis up close, chancing upon a toxic heap of waste known as ‘trash mountain,'” Purified founder Will Verona explains. “I knew something needed to change, and in 2020 I began this journey to rethink the way shoes could be made. Thanks to the help of our partners in Portugal, at NFW and at Bananatex®, we are now launching a product we are incredibly proud of.”
SATRA, an independent research body, tested the shoe’s impact on soil health under ISO 20020:2015. For 90 days, the shoes were exposed to soil, which was later tested for toxicity. Then, tomato and barley plants were exposed to the shoe matter and even grew better than compared to regular compost.
Two styles, a low- and high-top sneaker, are available in black and white with a natural gum outsole. The gender-neutral styles are available un EU sizes 36–46 and retail for $165–$191 on the brand’s website. The brand is launching with a D2C model but is open to partnering with retailers in the U.S., the UK or elsewhere in the future.

The April/May 2024 Issue

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