With a wildly successful crowdfunding campaign, Helsinki, Finland-based footwear company Rens is hitting the ground running into the production of its second sneaker model made with reused coffee material, the Rens Nomad.
The Vietnamese-immigrant-owned startup founded by Jesse Tran and Son Chu first turned to Kickstarter in 2019 for the Rens Original, a waterproof slip-on shoe for casual wear made with coffee byproducts and recycled plastic. The Nomad features some of the same materials for a sneaker geared more towards the “athleisure” audience.
Rens shoes incorporate coffee-based fiber for a quick-drying fabric with moisture-wicking, anti-microbial and odor-controlling properties, while also being lightweight, flexible, durable and UV-protective, according to the company.
The Nomad adds coffee-based laces, enhanced shock absorption, improved traction and a ventilated midsole technology called SkyStep. Recycled plastic is used for the creation of the flexible, breathable waterproof membrane and the laces.
As of this writing, the Kickstarter campaign to fund production of the Nomad has raised over $130,000, with three weeks remaining. The sneakers will be marked at US$179 for a retail launch expected early next year.
“Our mission is to transform sustainable materials, which are widely available on the market, into exciting and innovative products and extend the life-cycle of this supposed ‘trash,’” Rens CEO Jesse Tran told Daily Coffee News. “Our R&D team constantly scouts and works with suppliers of new technologies in order to bring the most sustainable tech available for everyone.”
Tran told Daily Coffee News the company sources its coffee material and other shoe materials from suppliers in Taiwan, mainland China and Vietnam.
“Coffee yarn or waterproof plastic membrane has been used for a long time already by many brands and producers, in both footwear and other product categories,” said Tran. “These materials are by no means any secret. Any brand can buy these materials from various suppliers and develop new products themselves.”
For both its shoes, Rens has partnered with Munich, Germany-based company ClimatePartner, which offers a private verification scheme designed to promote “climate neutral” products.
The scheme involves calculating the carbon emissions generated throughout a product’s value chain, targeted reductions in carbon emissions, and contributions to legitimate carbon offset projects.
“Since our first campaign, we have made all of our processes more efficient and cleaner,” said Tran. “We now deliver in smaller, all-in-one boxes made from 100% recycled cardboard with minimal ink. We went from air freight to sea freight and regional warehouses to shrink our footprint. These are some examples of our larger strategy to move closer to making the ultimate sustainable sneaker.”
Howard Bryman is the associate editor of Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine. He is based in Portland, Oregon.