In search of cool, sustainable brands, FashionUnited stumbled upon Rens, a Finnish athleisure brand that makes the world's first sneaker from coffee grounds and recycled plastic. The Helsinki-based brand even won the 2021 Reddot Award for Outstanding Product Design for its innovation.
Rens' coffee sneakers debuted in the summer of 2019 and soon became Finland's most successful Kickstarter campaign to date and the largest crowdfunding campaign for fashion in the Nordics: in just under 45 days, Rens had sold over half a million euros worth of sneakers to thousands of customers around the world.
Since then, Rens has established itself as a sustainable sneaker brand. Though the USA, Finland, Germany and the UK are the brand’s main market, it sells its sneakers in more than 100 countries worldwide.
“There has been constant encouragement from the beginning and also great feedback from the community. We have now integrated many of the wishes and comments into the development of our next performance sneaker model Nomad, which will be launched in a Kickstarter campaign in mid-July,” states Rens in an email to FashionUnited.
What does ‘Rens’ mean?
Many fans wonder what the name of the brand means and here is the answer: “The word ‘rens’ has a few different meanings around the globe and shares a connective thread between them. From the Far East, Confucianism brings us 'Ren' (without -s), describing altruism and especially the awesome feeling you get when you do something good for other people. In the West, 'rens' is found in Scandinavian languages and means 'clean, unpolluted and pure'. These two combine to define Rens: feeling awesome about doing good for people and the world around them," explains the young brand.
How does one make coffee grounds sneakers?
First, one needs coffee grounds from around 21 cups of coffee per shoe. This gets carbonated and mixed with the recycled PET from six used water bottles. This is done through an innovative high-pressure process under low heat. The upper material of the shoes is then made from this mixture.
Materials made from coffee grounds have many advantages - they are odour-resistant, antibacterial, sustainable, offer protection from UV radiation and dry twice as fast than conventional polyester, for example. The recycled PET used lasts longer and performs better than traditional plastic and is kinder to the environment.
Each pair of sneakers is lightweight, weighing only between 400 and 650 grams, depending on the size. All Rens sneakers also have a waterproof membrane made from recycled polyester, making each shoe waterproof yet breathable. An anti-slip rubber sole on the heel and toe cap make it suitable for a variety of terrains.
What happens with Rens sneakers at the end of their life?
“Waste-based materials are used to make Rens sneakers (used coffee grounds and recycled plastic from returnable bottles), extending the life cycle of these supposedly single-use materials. This helps to gradually reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills,” says the brand in an email to FashionUnited.
“However, given the state of current recycling technologies, we have not yet found an effective system that allows us to recycle sneakers. But we are continuously researching and looking for efficient methods and technologies to close the loop and achieve our vision as the most sustainable sneaker brand in the world,” adds Rens.
What does the logo stand for?
Each sneaker is not only vegan and made without hooks, eyelets or laces, but designed as a pure slip-on shoe, thus offering the advantage of putting it on and taking it off quickly without using one’s hands. Prominently printed on each shoe is the Rens logo, a hashtag that is a symbol of the social media generation.
“People use it not only to join movements, but also to start them, to build something greater than themselves. The hashtag connects individuals, communities, cultures and ethnicities,” explains the brand.
Where can one currently buy Rens sneakers?
The sneakers are currently available via the Rens website (rensoriginal.com) and fashion e-tailer Zalando. FashionUnited wanted to know if a wholesale model is also planned in the near future and if Rens will remain an online brand or if brick-and-mortar stores are also planned in the future?
“In our strongest markets (USA, UK, EU countries such as Germany, Finland, etc.) we are currently focusing on the direct-to-consumer model. Additionally, we are in discussions with various wholesalers in markets such as Japan, Singapore and Latin America to make the products globally accessible. Rens was born as a global and digital-native brand, but we are definitely aiming to evolve into an omnichannel brand that will later be sold in brick-and-mortar stores as well,” confirms Rens.
The sneakers are available in black, white, beige, blue, red and pink in sizes 35.5 to 44.5 (UK 5-12) for women and 36 to 47.5 (UK 4 to 13) for men. The price is 119 US dollars or 119 euros (approximately 95 British Pounds) per pair.Images: Rens AUHOR: simone pruess cat: 8 featured: 1 countr_names: com, uk, au, in, nz, ca, ie metakeys: rens, sneakers, sustainable fashion, interview