Slide sandals are perhaps one of fashion’s most popular yet underestimated silhouettes. We’ve seen them pretty much everywhere: at our local gym’s locker room, hanging next to a cold pool in Southern Spain, and even during Fashion Week’s hottest street style spots. Seemingly unfussy and utilitarian-looking, it’s not so much their style as their well-earned reputation as a purveyor of comfort, their unique ease of wear, and their more-or-less universal affordability that keep them firmly in favor.
During the last decade, fashion’s favorite je ne sais quoi shape has been revamped by sports brands, luxury labels, graffiti artists, musicians, etc. – feeding into the toxic, never-ending cycle of what’s new is best. However, material science company Balena has recently moved to upend footwear’s wasteful model by turning the ordinary, traditional color-block slide into something truly innovative.
The Tel Aviv and Milan-based company has debuted the world’s first 100 percent biodegradable elastomer-engineered slides. Made of Balena’s groundbreaking BioCir, the material is a sustainable, flexible, smooth and durable solution to toxic, fossil fuel-based plastics in footwear. Its 60 percent bio-based and fully compostable thermoplastic design makes the initiative an exciting alternative to polluting shoe compositions.
The natural and biodegradable polymer ingredients in BioCir allow it to be easily scalable and used in traditional injection molding processes and 3D printing. Balena plans to partner with leading global brands to implement their material, making the technology accessible to consumers worldwide. Early last month, the company released the first batch of cinnamon-scented, unisex slides to demonstrate the technology, which sold out immediately.
As part of the campaign, Balena also introduced a fully circular system called BioCycling, so when a customer is done wearing their slides, instead of discarding them to a landfill, they can get them composted in one of their facilities. This way, the company takes responsibility for overseeing that their shoes are fully decomposed and biodegraded, with the material returning to the ground safely in a fully circular process.
David Roubach, founder and chief executive of Balena, shared in the official release statement, “The global fashion industry is one of the world’s biggest polluters. At Balena, our goal is to help turn this around. We’re doing this by creating our own viable biodegradable plastic alternatives and fully circular systems that can be easily scaled and copied and pasted across the globe.”
He added, “We hope our BioCir footwear shows the world that there is a real alternative: Fashion can be fabulous, functional, and Earth-friendly. We’re proud to be the company opening the door for any fashion brand to start stepping into a more circular future.”
Even though Balena’s first slide drop is sold out, the company is planning on releasing more in the future, as well as sharing further exciting material developments that continue their vision of a more circular and sustainable future. You can visit this link here to get to know everything about their innovative BioCir material and company story.
Meanwhile, if you’re interested in hearing more about materials science, you can listen to our recent Progress Over Perfection podcast with MycoWorks’ Philip Ross.