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Dutch Companies Forge Together for Upcycled Denim Shoelaces

Denim continues to filter into sneaker culture, and the latest iteration relies on circular innovation that combines the expertise of five Dutch companies.

Upcycling company DenimX teamed with Rd4 Textile Sorting Center, packaging supplier PaperWise, woven reinforcements manufacturer Eurocarbon, and footwear and laces manufacturer Emma to develop shoelaces made from recycled jeans.

Discarded jeans across the northwestern part of Europe were deconstructed and blended with recycled polyester to create a strong, durable yarn. From the recycled jeans, more than 150 pairs of shoelaces were created.

The laces are part of Emma’s safety footwear collection, which provides footwear for working professionals in industries that span healthcare, manufacturing, food and more. The first batch of upcycled shoelaces will be featured in Emma Safety Footwear’s protective sneakers. Consumers can also purchase the shoelaces on the DenimX ecommerce site for 4.90 euros (approximately $5.50) for one set of laces, or 8.80 euros (approximately $9.90) for two sets. Laces are available in gray or blue.

DenimX, which developed the concept for the laces, launched in February 2017 after five years of extensive research and development of smart upcycling technologies. Marc Meijers, the company’s director and owner, explained that the idea for DenimX came from wanting to move the world toward a circular future—and the companies behind the upcycled shoelaces all share a similar motivation.

“All companies that have contributed to the development of this lace are active in the circular economy,” he said. “We prevent valuable materials waste from ending up in an incinerator or a landfill.”

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An increasing number of partnerships have been formed in recent years, as collaborations and knowledge-sharing prove essential in the move to circularity. High street retailers Asos and H&M each shared their own circularity insights with the fashion industry to help accelerate its adoption, as did the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which recently published a book that makes the concept of circularity more accessible and scalable to leaders throughout the industry.

“Tying laces is synonymous with establishing a durable connection,” Meijers said. “The collaboration with five partners is a good representation of the way in which we will have to operate in the future in order to make the transition to a circular economy.”

Regionally, the Netherlands has served as a hub for circularity efforts in recent years, beginning with the Dutch Denim Deal in 2020. The deal is a multi-stakeholder initiative to increase the use of recycled fibers in fashion. Under the agreement, participating brands produce a combined 3 million pairs of jeans made with a minimum of 20 percent post-consumer recycled cotton by 2023. Individually, each brand is required to feature a minimum of 5 percent post-consumer recycled cotton in its denim collections. Scotch & Soda, Mud Jeans and Kuyichi are some of the Dutch denim brands in participation.