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Leonardo DiCaprio Puts Money Behind Vegan Sneakers

British brand Loci announced it has raised 4 million pound ($4.6 million) in seed round funding with investors including Leonardo DiCaprio. Through this, the vegan sneaker company looks to advance its mission to build an ethical, aspirational experience while disrupting the eco-luxury sector and what Future Market Insights describes as a $42 billion market for animal-free footwear.

“For most consumer brands today, success is measured by sales and popularity,” CEO Emmanuel Eribo said. “At Loci, we believe that there is a third pillar that is just as important as these two: Impact. The greater the impact, the more successful we are. Today, it’s essential we do more than just make a fantastic product.”

At 15 months old, Loci hit seven-figure sales within its first year and expanded into 26 global markets, partnering with retailers like Neiman Marcus and celebrities like Nikki Reed.

“I am proud to be an investor in Loci, a brand dedicated to minimizing its environmental impact, and centered around creating cruelty-free, ethical footwear,” DiCaprio said. He has notably invested in various sustainability initiatives, such as lab-grown leather and regenerative materials.

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Loci manufactures and sources its products in Europe using certified recycled ocean plastic. The unisex sneakers are handmade in Porto, Portugal, and incorporate renewable and biodegradable materials. To date, Loci has removed over 982,000 plastic bottles from the Mediterranean and the coast of Africa and repurposed them into a durable material used in its vegan leather sneakers. Each pair of sneakers is equivalent to 20 plastic bottles, the company said. Loci uses a monthly based production cycle to minimize waste, with production on a sliding scale in response to demand. Loci also donates 10 percent of online profits to wildlife conservation charities.

Bamboo, natural rubber and recycled plastic and brass make up Loci’s vegan sneaker.

“Today, sustainability is one of the most used buzzwords,” CMO Philippe Homsy said. “We want Loci to cut through the noise and be judged by our impact. Through education, innovation, and donations, we’ve built a business model that is driven by our passion. With Leo, we could not have hoped for a more genuine and committed partner.”

With sustainable shoemakers like Allbirds and Rothy’s becoming household consumer names, plus legacy brands like Adidas and Timberland joining the green movement, Loci stands out by embracing sustainability in every element of its sneakers. Bamboo and recycled nylon make up the shoe’s lining, while recycled brass is used for the eyelets and natural rubber for the soles. With cork insoles and midsoles and seamless 3D weaving technology, Loci shoes are built to last.

Statista estimates the ethical fashion market is valued at $7.7 billion dollars, with 67 percent of consumers considering sustainable materials to be a factor in purchasing, according to McKinsey. Lyst reported a 178 percent page view increase for “vegan leather” in 2021, and the man-made/regenerated industry was the largest segment of the ethical fashion market by product type, accounting for 54.5 percent of the total market in 2019, according to Research and Markets.

“We are here to change things,” Eribo said. “That’s why it’s always important for us to think differently, to swim against the tide.”