It’s official, no sugarcoating it. Saucony has released its most sustainable shoe ever – the Jazz Court RFG. With just seven raw materials, the sneaker is the brand’s first-ever model using zero plastic. A big step toward a more sustainable future for the Waltham, Massachusetts-based footwear and apparel manufacturer.
A careful blend of classic shoemaking craftsmanship and modern manufacturing combines eco-friendly materials cotton, jute, rubber, wood, gardenia, beet, and ethically-sourced wool for a sleeker, court version of the iconic Jazz Original. Blue gardenia flowers were used to create the dye for the rich navy wool collar lining, a nice contrast from the natural, understated tones of the canvas upper. Beet juice was then used to stamp the sizing information on the insole labels. Lastly, threads throughout the upper were created with jute plant fiber, while the laces utilize eucalyptus tree fiber.
The difficult part of building fully natural footwear is not necessarily the upper construction or coloring process. As Saucony’s Head of Product Engineering Andrea Paulson states, it’s what’s under our foot that begs for change. The footwear industry still relies heavily on synthetics, aka plastics, for cushioning, soles, inserts, etc.
“The materials that cushion and protect your body from the concrete and hardwood jungles we now live in are typically far from nature’s bounty,” said Paulson in her write-up on the development process of the Jazz Court RFG. She notes the extensive research done looking back at how other communities, such as ancient Mayans and Indigenous People of North America, were able to develop footwear for their needs using minimal resources. Through understanding these breakthroughs, Paulson and the Saucony team were able to develop a fully natural rubber sourced by tapping the hevea plant (rubber tree) for its milk or latex, also known as using 100% Lactae Hevea.
To make this shoe fully natural, no synthetic adhesives or glues were used to combine the upper with the midsole – only a true sidewall stitch using a cotton thread. This is important because as common and convenient adhesives are, as Paulson mentions, “even the best water-based, natural-polymer adhesives contain levels of ammonia and emulsifying stabilizers.”
As part of Saucony’s larger sustainability goals, primarily moving away from virgin plastics, this future take on a classic is a result of finding innovation not only in the end product but also being mindful of the complete manufacturing and fulfillment process. Paulson and the team’s work didn’t stop at just creating the company’s most eco-friendly sneaker. Every detail of creating the Jazz Court RFG was a considered decision. Everything from eliminating certain energy costly machine work, and how materials are naturally marked using chalk or baking methods before assembling, to a more sustainable, shippable, and recycled shoebox with no ink.
The Jazz Court RFG is a “bespoke shoe for people who give a damn.” You can purchase this brand new, all-natural sneaker now for $130 USD at Saucony.com and select retailers, like Boston-based boutique Bodega.