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Saucony Turns to New Dyeing Techniques in its Latest No-Plastic Sneaker

Saucony released the second iterations of its “most eco-friendly shoe ever” Thursday.

Like the original Jazz Court RFG that the running brand released in March, the two new colorways are made with zero plastic. Instead, a cotton and jute weave serves as the shoe’s base fabric, renewable lyocell fibers as the laces and stitching threads and wool felt as the odor-resistant and thermo-reactive footbed.

The black and green designs rely on two new dyeing techniques, the first using gallnuts—an excretion created by oak trees in response to insect activity—and the latter mulberry leaves. Like the original Jazz Court RFG, the black and green colorways will be packaged, unstuffed, in an ink-free, shippable, 100 percent recycled cardboard box.

“Synthetic materials like polyester, nylon, TPU, and EVA, all of which are plastics, are often used in footwear and apparel, which means discarded gear can remain in landfills for an extremely long time,” Andrea Paulson, Saucony’s director of product engineering, said. “Because of this, Saucony has committed to minimizing our footprint by using less virgin plastic, more recycled plastic, and more natural and other eco-friendly materials wherever possible.”

Saucony released green and black colorways of its Jazz Court RFG sneaker.

The Jazz Court RFG represents one step in a larger sustainability journey at Saucony. By the autumn, it expects to incorporate recycled content into every new performance footwear style. Come next spring, it aims to begin using 100 percent recycled uppers. By 2024, it plans to move entirely away from virgin plastic.

Saucony plans to continue exploring new alternative material options as they are developed, Paulson said. Next year, she noted, this will include a “small” collection of products made with pineapple leather.

Introduced in 1981, Saucony’s Jazz franchise turns 40 this year. The brand plans to celebrate the milestone with a series of retro releases, such as the color-changing Jazz ’81 UV. Dropped in March, the sneaker replicates the original’s look and feel, while adding a few upgrades, namely nylon underlays that react to heat and light. The shoe came in three colorways: a purple pair that shifts to light pink, an orange pair that turns to yellow and a blue pair the changes to teal.

Saucony has been one of Wolverine Worldwide’s strongest brands all pandemic long. In the first quarter, its sales climbed nearly 60 percent, led by its road running category, which almost doubled. The Originals heritage lifestyle sneaker business—the division behind the Jazz Court RFG—grew in the double digits.