Made with a recycled cashmere-merino blend, the casual lace up for men and women has been in the works for a reason, founder Matt Scanlan told Sourcing Journal. “Widely known for our sustainable cashmere, we also wanted to find a way to incorporate materials that our customers know and love us for,” he said. “As we refined and perfected the design, we knew there was no better time to launch than ahead of the colder fall and winter months when our cashmere-wool blend is best received.”
When making the decision to embark on the footwear track, the brand relied heavily on consumer feedback, he added. “To ensure we were delivering a product our customers not only wanted, but needed, we collected consumer data points about shoe preferences and invested in qualitative learning, utilizing focus groups and in-store questionnaires to better understand our audiences’ footwear preferences.”
As it turns out, shoppers are still loving low-top lace-ups—especially amid the pandemic-driven trend toward more casual dressing. Known for offering cashmere and cashmere-blended staples like sweaters, tops, dresses, joggers and hoodies at an affordable price point, Naadam sought to develop a shoe that checked consumers’ boxes while coming in under $100.
The brand’s product development team hoped to “provide durability and functionality while still bringing softness and comfort to your feet,” Scanlan said, and the secret is the proprietary fiber blend—a combination of recycled cashmere and a small amount of recycled wool. “Wool holds water resistant properties that make the cashmere shoe more durable for outdoor wear,” he said.
Meanwhile, the shoe also features Bloom Algae midsoles, “which offer more flexibility and comfort than the rigid rubber soles on typical dress sneakers.” The algae biomass significantly reduces the reliance on non-renewable petroleum compounds, or plastics. The breathable upper is lined with cotton.
“Naadam works directly with herders in Mongolia to source our cashmere,” Scanlan explained, while the wool comes from an Italy-based company called Manteco which leads in the production of recycled fibers. “By processing large volumes of recycled material per year, often starting with post-consumer material, Manteco blends it with other sustainable fibers in order to offer properly qualified innovative solutions,” Scanlan said.
One ton of recycled wool-cashmere—enough for about 5,000 pairs—saves 15 tons of water and 1.5 tons of petroleum, reducing coal consumption and sulfur dioxide emission by 500 kilograms and 48 kilograms respectively, he added. Adding to the shoe’s sustainability profile, it can be laundered at home, Scanlan said. It can be washed by hand or in the washing machine on a gentle cycle, and then left to air dry.
The Naadam Cashmere Shoe will be available Sept. 2 on Naadam.co and in Naadam stores. The shoe will be available in men’s and women’s sizes in gray, black and white.