Anya Hindmarch in 2007 caused a sensation when she created a tote bag that trumpeted her concern for the environment and was inscribed with the phrase, “I’m Not a Plastic Bag.”
Rothy’s, a new footwear brand, may do her one better; its shoes could carry the tag line, “I’m Made From a Plastic Bottle.”
The fiber used for Rothy’s is made from 100 percent recycled water bottles, which are fused into filament and stapled into yarn that’s surprisingly soft.
The fiber becomes the breathable upper of the shoe that won’t lose its shape and wicks moisture away. The rest of the shoe consists of carbon-free outsoles and recycled insoles.
Roth Martin had his aha moment three years ago while thinking about ways to innovate footwear. Martin, who had always been interested in recycling and the preserving the environment, wondered if a shoe could be made from water bottles.
“We’re trying to be more conscientious,” Martin said. “Leather footwear has 25 percent to 35 percent waste,” he added, explaining that skins with irregular markings are often discarded. “There’s also a massive amount of over-production.”
Rothy’s process involves a 3-D knitting process. The upper part of the shoe is heat set on wooden lasts so that the fit keeps its shape seamlessly. The design is patent pending.
The shoes come in two styles, the flat, available in nine colors for $125 per pais, and the Point, eight colors, $145.
Rothy’s are machine washable and anti-microbial.
Martin said Rothy’s had a recent two-week partnership with Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop pop-up in San Francisco.
“At the end of the shoe’s life, we’ll print out specs and send them to our manufacturing partner,” Martin said, referring to reorders. “With scale, this will be customizable. Eventually, we’ll do mix and match [colors and patterns].
Prior to Rothy’s, Martin ran a gallery where he represented 15 to 20 contemporary artists.
Stephen P. Hawthornthwaite, cofounder and chief executive officer of Rothy’s, was an investment banker in mergers and acquisitions in the technology, Internet and e-commerce area.
“I was in the deal business long enough,” he said. “I’ve always liked fashion.”
Rothy’s are designed in the U.S. and manufactured by the company’s American partners in Asia. “We set up our own facility with out own knitting machines,” Hawthornthwaite said.
“We’re trying to keep it fairly simple,” Martin said. “Fast fashion, season after season of new models, and so much of it ends up on sale.”
A higher heel is in the pipeline, along with collaborations and limited editions.
“We tried to sold the front of the closet dilemma,” Martin said. “We wanted to create the shoe that a women keeps at the front of her closet and doesn’t thing about putting on.”