Kelly Slater is getting into the shoe business. Last week, the 11-time World Surfing Champion launched his new sustainable and performance-based footwear brand, KLLY.
For the label’s first style, Slater developed a flip-flop sandal that is all about comfort and fit. After breaking his feet five times surfing, these were key components.
“The last one was horrible. I broke my whole foot in half, backwards. It was potentially a career-ending injury for me and I still have problems every day. So for me, I want my foot to work as natural as possible and that’s the primary element we’ve talked about when going into shoe design,” he told FN.
While more styles will make its debut from the KLLY brand later this year, the athlete said a flip-flop was the first silhouette of choice. Men’s sizing will be available first, with women’s sizing to come.
The shoe is made from recycled material and uses Bloom technology, which is derived from algae and provides a high level of cushioning, durability, responsiveness and water resistance. Bloom is the same technology Slater also uses to create traction pads for his Slater Designs surfboards via his company Firewire.
“The idea that you can clean up a body of water and use the algae from that to create a foam is very interesting component for businesses and different products,” he said, noting that it’s been eight years since he began conversations with the company. “We weren’t positive if it was going to be able to be utilized the way we thought and the fact that it worked for this is really exciting.”
As a vocal advocate for ocean conservation, creating a sustainable shoe was essential for the launch of the business. (Slater is also the founder of sustainable apparel brand Outerknown.)
“Sustainability is an important message for people to instill [at the start] of their companies, as a baseline for making products and in the way you run things,” he said.
The first product, named New Moon, resembles the surface of the moon, and it launches the day before the new moon this month. Slater said he was inspired by the moon’s gravitational pull that generates tides in the ocean, connecting the moon, the surf and its sea creatures, with the sole of the shoe representing turtle scales, for instance.
The KLLY flip-flop retails for $89 and is exclusively available online for purchase in the U.S. and Canada now.