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Vivobarefoot to launch re-commerce website to sell repaired shoes

By Danielle Wightman-Stone

16 Jul 2020

Minimalist shoe company Vivobarefoot is looking to become the first shoe brand in the world to launch a re-commerce site, selling repaired or returned shoes, in an effort to reduce the mass volumes of shoes that end up in landfill.

The brand states that more than 25 billion shoes are produced every year, and 90 percent of these end up in landfill, often within 12 months of purchase and it is looking to keep shoes in circulation and out of landfill with its new ReVivo initiative to recondition worn or returned Vivobarefoot shoes for resale.

The ReVivo programme launches on July 20 and is part of the brand’s ambition to eliminate the brand’s shoes-to-landfill ratio, and it is also calling on the wider shoe industry to take more responsibility and to “think feet and planet first,” and to stop making shoes without end of life solutions.

The aim of the initiative is to give footwear a new lease of life, as part of its plan to be the most regenerative businesses in the world and will see Vivobarefoot working alongside the highly-skilled craftspeople of The Boot Repair Company to recondition worn or returned shoes.

At time of launch, Vivobarefoot states that only shoes which have been returned to the brand will go through this process, however, it is the brand’s goal to be able to accept shoes directly from customers, before repairing and returning them.

Vivobarefoot chief executive, Galahad Clark said in a statement: “No doubt, the elephant in the sustainable shoe room is end-of-life and the fact that nearly all shoes end up in landfill or, at best, get ground down into flooring material. The shoe industry makes shoes out of complicated different materials bonded together with a lot of petro-chemicals that will ultimately sit in landfill for a lot longer than the lives of the wearers!”

“At Vivobarefoot we’re on a journey to make the most sustainable shoes in the world: regenerative for people and planet. The launch of ReVivo is a super exciting step in that journey and one of many initiatives we are taking to make sure none of our shoes ever end up slowly decaying in landfill!”

Vivobarefoot launches ReVivo to recondition worn or returned shoes for resale

All returned shoes will undergo a full fault inspection as part of the ReVivo project before being given one of three grades: Grade 1 – Vivobarefoot’s finest reconditioned footwear, described as being ‘like new’; Grade 2 – in great condition, but has been repaired; and Grade 3 – in good condition, but has had repairs and a replacement sole.

The shoes will then be given a deep steam clean and sanitised inside and out using Micro-Fresh technology to kill all known viruses and bacteria before the repair process begins.

Procedures to repair the shoes will include re-stitching and over-locking burst seams to create a “strong, lasting repair,” in addition to patching torn or weak areas, re-bonding un-stuck seals and soles, as well as replacing broken eyelets and lace hooks.

All damaged laces and insoles will be replaced with new products, with the old insoles then recycled and used to repair other shoes, while thin or damaged soles are replaced with the old sole units being recycled and used as equestrian area bases. Packaging will also be replaced.

Once repaired, the shoes will be clearly marked and available to buy from the ReVivo re-commerce website, which is due to launch soon, allowing customers to purchase shoes which have been revived and reconditioned.

Vivobarefoot added that this initiative is just the start for the London-based shoe brand as part of its ultimate goal to make the most sustainable shoes in the world and that it is currently working on chemical recycling solutions as well as other circular economy models such as 3D printed shoes.

The brand has already made sustainable strides, launching its first algae-based shoe, the Ultra Bloom in 2017. The algae is used as a great substitute for EVA, or the foam used in most athletic shoes and each pair also removes about 25 balloons worth of CO2 from the atmosphere, explains the brand.

In addition, in 2019 it produced Primus Bio made with “susterra propanediol” the leftovers of the corn industry. Corn is processed and the glucose within the corn kernels is separated and processed, resulting in a pliable, resilient material that’s made entirely from a plant source. Every pair uses 42 percent less energy than petroleum products and generates 56 percent less greenhouse gas emissions. They also have shoes featuring 50 percent recycled plastic using plastic bottles.

Images: courtesy of Vivobarefoot