Monday, December 11, 2023

Clae Debuts Appleskin As It Moves to Replace Cow Leather: ‘That’s the Direction’


Los Angeles-based footwear label Clae has debuted the Apple Collection using sustainable appleskin leather as it seeks replacements for cow leather.

Clae’s newest collection marks its first foray into Appleskin, a material formulated from reclaimed apple waste, a by-product of the juice industry. The Apple collection sees reimagined versions of Clae’s Bradley and Malone court shoes and its Joshua runner.

Mabel’s appleskin blends apple remnants and man-made components to reduce the ecological footprint of footwear production. The food waste — apple cores and peels — are ground into a powder and used as a replacement for oil-based inputs like polyurethane.

Constructed in Florence, Italy, at the synthetic leather Mabel facility, the new collection stands as a testament to Clae’s commitment to marrying quality with sustainability. Pursuing globally recognized certifications such as OEKO-TEX and GRS, it emphasizes its stringent adherence to ethical manufacturing processes.

clae footwear
Clae Footwear | Courtesy

Clae, which launched in 2001, has developed refined and classic styles with “meticulous attention to materials, design, comfort and production practices,” the company says on its website. “We are dedicated to offer minimalist and timeless products that evolve and endure, all while minimizing our footprint on the environment.”

The new Appleskin shoes are testament; the Bradley Apple emerges as a notable archetype, illustrating the synthesis of Clae’s renowned design with the Appleskin. With availability in understated off-white and bold triple-black variants, this versatile sneaker can be dressed up or down.

In the same vein, the Joshua Apple sneaker amplifies Clae’s allegiance to green innovation, incorporating not only Appleskin but also embedding components that have received recycling certification, including GRS-certified mesh, laces, and cushioned insoles. Its sport-centric design caters to a range of activities.

The Malone Apple, characterized by its robust structure and a Premium Court outsole, consists of thirty percent natural rubber, and the Ellington Apple, embodies a more formal aesthetic with its loafer-like appearance.

Clae x Vuori footwear
Clae x Vuori | Courtesy

Appleskin may just be the beginning of the company’s foray into alt materials, according to CEO Jim Bartholet. He told Sourcing Journal the brand is working to find suitable replacements for animal leather as consumers seek out sustainable alternatives.

Bartholet also said the quality of conventional leather is steadily declining, forcing the company to seek out alternatives. He says as a co-product of the meat industry, animal hides are becoming thinner and more prone to defects as cattle producers expedite animal growth, putting pressure on the hides. “Looking to the future, we’re probably going to focus on vegan [inputs],” he said. “That’s the direction.”

The new apple leather range follows Clae’s recent partnership with luxury activewear label Vuori. That partnership marked the release of Vuori’s inaugural dual-gender capsule titled ‘Malone Lite Vuori.’ The much-anticipated collection showcased a trio of vintage-inspired fitness sneakers designed to adapt effortlessly from gym settings to urban streets.

Clae’s new Apple Collection is available via the Clae website.

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