Got milk? Nat-2 certainly does.
The Munich-based shoemaker recently partnered with German microbiologist Anke Domaske (of Qmilk fame) to engineer a “100 percent natural” sneaker upper derived from soured milk no longer fit for human consumption.
Two million tons of milk are disposed of in Germany alone, according to Domaske, who extracts the milk protein casein and spins it into yarn using a water-efficient process that requires no toxic chemicals and leaves behind zero waste.
The resulting fabric is silk-like in hand and appearance, with properties that reportedly include moisture and temperature management, bacterial resistance and reduced skin irritation.
Nat-2’s Milk line marks the first time milk fabric has been applied to shoes. To increase the material’s durability, the company blended 30 percent casein fibers with 70 percent wool to create a first-of-its-kind “milk felt” that is compostable at the end of its life.
“The milk material is 100 percent [natural] and shows improved skills towards regular felt,” it wrote on its website. “Due to the mix of wool and real milk fibers the touch is soft and silky, while peeling is eliminated, dirt does not get a hold and the strength is improved.”
The shoes, which start at 299 euros ($338), come in unisex high-top and low-top styles and colors such as off-white, greige and navy. Handmade in Italy, each one comprises a cork insole, a rubber outsole and a vegetable-tanned leather lining.
Nat-2 is a veteran at dabbling with unusual materials. In the past, the brand has experimented with mushroom “leather,” coffee grounds and even grass.