Building the Brand
Our ‘Building the Brand’ editorial series highlights the twists and turns of a modern-day footwear business. As LANE EIGHT continues to evolve, we’ll be sharing our journey with you here, wrong turns and all. We’ve always made it a point to pull back the curtains on the footwear industry (‘integrity’ is one of our internal values) and now those stories will have a digital home. Welcome and thanks for coming along for the ride.
From the very beginning, our focus has always been on creating the most versatile performance shoe. Our product design, construction, and materials were all determined with this single goal in mind. But over the course of the past year, we have been able to take a step back and look at our past and present decision making more critically. We recognized that in our pursuit of creating the best possible product, we neglected other areas of equal, if not greater, importance. This is why we have been taking a number of steps to become a more sustainable company. However, this doesn’t happen overnight. Becoming a better brand is a process, one that is continuous and never-ending.
The footwear industry is one that has remained fairly unchanged for the past few decades. Shoes are made today more or less as they were 20 to 30 years ago. While strides have been made in recent years to make the industry more sustainable in general, there’s still a long way to go. Having worked in the footwear industry for a number of years, we now have a better sense of the biggest sources of pollution throughout the manufacturing process.
All material production inevitably creates some waste, but some materials create more than others. The leather industry has always had this issue — as a disproportionately high amount of water is required in the production process. This leads to higher amounts of run-off water into the surrounding environments. Wastewater treatment has come a long way since the early days, but water containing a high amount of nutrients will inevitably be returned to the environment, leading to the growth of harmful algal blooms (HAB’s). These HAB’s can have terrible impacts on surrounding communities, which is why we have made the decision to move away from using animal products in our shoes.
While our existing shoes do use animal-derived materials, from today onwards LANE EIGHT will be transitioning away from the use of any and all animal materials. We will no longer be producing shoes using leather in the tongue of our shoes, and all suede leather on our upper will be replaced with a performance microfibre material made of polyester.
This material shift also comes with a few performance and aesthetic benefits: our new microfibre is just as durable as leather and suede and allows us to be more playful when it comes to color options.
As we’ve started down this path, we’ve realized there is no end-state or shortcuts to becoming a more accountable and sustainable brand. It will be a continuous effort and learning process. We hope you’ll stay tuned, and maybe learn a thing or two with us. This is just the first step.
— Josh and James