Aug 28, 2023
by Karl Smith
Salomon and RANRA’s New Cross Pro Shoe Is Better For the Planet
by Karl Smith
Aug 28, 2023

The folks at Salomon have been busy. Recently, we’ve seen the French brand making strides on sustainability and releasing a slew of collaborations. The latter have been interesting, to say the least – a list of link-ups including the likes of culty Canadian design studio JJJJound and Dutch electronic music festival Dekmantel. In terms of the former, we’ve seen the recyclable Index running shoe receive a second version (the Index 02) and the recycled Mindful collection.

But the two haven’t always gone hand in hand. While the majority of Salomon’s collaborative released have been cruelty-free, made without animal-derived materials, many of them have stuck to virgin synthetics as a replacement.

The trail-focused label’s latest partnership, however, is very much a unification moment: a coming together of cultural relevance and ecological conscience.

Part of this comes from the fact this latest offering is actually a new shoe for the brand – or sort of, anyway.

Collaborating with the London– and Reykjavík-based design studio RANRA, Salomon has given us the Cross Pro Better – a name which, really, says everything you need to know.

“We incorporate 30% of natural rubber into the midsole material, reducing the usage of petroleum-based materials,” explains Olivier Mouzin, Salomon’s Sustainable Development Program Manager, when asked how the shoe differs to the Fall/Winter 2022 original.

“We also increased the content of recycled material in the upper,” Mouzin adds. “The Laces, Webbing and Mudguard are 100% made from Recycled material.”

It’s worth noting that these shoes aren’t 100% free from animal-derived materials – but that isn’t necessarily their goal. These shoes are part of an ongoing project to increase sustainability, ethics and durability of Salomon’s products. It’s a work in progress, but it’s work that’s moving at pace.

It’s also work that requires making better decisions – thinking about progress in all areas rather than perfection in one at the sake of another. To that end, on the shoe’s construction, Mouzin adds: “We add some natural material into upper construction like Leather and cotton,” taking time to note that the leather, located at the collar and tongue, “comes from a supplier which is LWG gold certified.”

The shoe also features natural dyes – a hot topic right now, with the impact of dyeing process and common petro-based dyes coming under fire from an environmental perspective. “Natural dying is a process we explore more and more for its reduction of chemical components and its lower temperature application,” Mouzin says, before pointing to the future and – again – to the brand’s steady approach to progress, “We plan to extend its usage but it can’t use it for every material family and every product usage.”

It’s a perspective that aligns neatly with RANRA’s approach to the collaboration, which co-founder Arnar Mar Jonsson describes as working to “design a highly functional shoe with a more natural process both in the make and in materiality.” Applying that to the Cross Pro Better, Jonsson is keen to point to the same areas that excite Mouzin – notably, the “new natural dye processes which push the boundaries of colour brightness and methods of fabrication which reduce the use of glues and adhesives.”

“Transparency is at the heart of every sustainable improvement. This transparency is already key in terms of direction with our suppliers – now, we’re in the process of extending that to the relationship with our customers.” – Olivier Mouzin, Sustainable Development Program Manager at Salomon

In terms of the shoe itself, the Cross Pro Better – like its Cross Pro forefather – is an all-purpose runner, “designed for a minimized impact on the environment, both artisanal and ambitious in intent, crafted for optimized product longevity and outdoor sustainability.” The two colorways – “Turmeric / Blazing Orange / Scarlet Ibis” and “Cathay Spice / Kelp / Bright Lime Green” – are far more low-key than they sound, opting for earthen tones to reflect the shoe’s more naturalistic elements.

It’s this sense of cross-purpose – and, in fact, a sense of purpose in general – that have brought (and kept) Salomon and RANRA together. Maina Souviron, Product Line Manager for Sportstyle Footwear at Salomon, explains that “RANRA is an ideal partner because it is a brand that redefines technical garments within the city space, building this new vision around performance and durability but also the know-how of making clothes with recycled and bio-based materials.”

Following on from last year’s collaborative release, Souviron is keen to point out not just what each partner brings to the table but how those characteristics intersect and emphasize one another: “It is the second time we collaborate with RANRA and both projects have been really interesting for Salomon in terms of material research and sustainability exploration. Indeed, sustainability is at the center of RANRA product creation, and working with Arnar and Luke pushed Salomon a lot in searching and implementing more recycled components in footwear. At the same time, RANRA was keen to work with us regarding our technical expertise and outdoor footwear knowledge. And that’s why we do collaboration, to create this junction between two brands that share the same passion for technical products and vibrancy for nature.”

In many ways, it’s a collaboration that wears its intentions on its sleeve – or, in this case, its sockliner. Not only is its more run-of-the-mill purpose as performance footwear clear from the shoe’s trail-ready silhouette, but its environmental aspirations, too, are quite literally imprinted on the design. Printed with details of the Cross Pro Better’s material make-up, the shoe is a model for transparency in an industry far too often far too opaque.

“Transparency is at the heart of every sustainable improvement. This transparency is already key in terms of direction with our suppliers – now, we’re in the process of extending that to the relationship with our customers,” Mouzin explains. “The plan is to properly inform the consumer about shoe composition. To make sure they have all the information during the act of purchase.” (And, it would seem, long after that first act of consumption is complete.)

Available now directly from the brand, the Salomon x RANRA Cross Pro Better, then, is exactly what it claims to be. The culmination of two experts in their field, putting those expertise to good use. For progress. For the future of footwear. For – well – better.