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How (and Why) Vivobarefoot Slashed Its Supply Chain Costs

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Vivobarefoot announced Monday the launch of Redesign Heroes, a “renewed and improved” line of the brand’s signature thin-soled minimalist sneakers that it reconstructed with fewer but higher-quality materials that tread more lightly on the planet.

“The industry focuses on shoes made with sustainable materials as the finish line,” Asher Clark, the certified B Corp’s co-founder and chief digital officer, said in a statement. “For the sake of human and planetary health, this has to change. Our focus is on producing perfect footwear which is regenerative to feet, human movement and planetary health—that’s the real challenge.”

By cutting back on the materials in more than 10 of its “hero” styles, including the Tracker II FG, the Magna FG and the Primus Lite III, Vivobarefoot slashed its supporting supply chain by 36 percent. The company also eschewed virgin or petrochemical-derived components in favor of recycled, bio-based or naturally sourced alternatives. It replaced the leather in its collar linings and footbeds with wild hide from a natural-tanning facility in Ethiopia, crafted insoles from pre-consumer recycled waste and swapped any nylon and polyester with 100 percent organic cotton.

The shoes, which carry the same wide, thin and flexible profile, are priced the same, Clark said, “but they’re now even better for people, their feet and the planet.”

Vivobarefoot Redesign Heroes

The Tracker II FG.

Redesign Heroes, the company said, is a “key step” in Vivobarefoot’s broader strategy to create more sustainable, circular and regenerative footwear, which has included efforts to take back and refurbish old shoes for resale. Since 2019, the company has been using a product and material design tool called VMatrix that assesses a product’s performance and regenerative qualities. Its goal is for all Vivobarefoot products to have a VMatrix score of 20 out of 25 by 2023. To that end, the brand is looking to work with value-chain partners that provide more sustainable materials are “are committed to its regenerative journey,” it added.

“In 2019 we brought [the] creation of all new products to a halt to totally overhaul our design approach,” said Emma Foster-Geering, Vivobarefoot’s director of sustainability. “We are committed to and working towards never bringing anything to market that does not meet our regenerative sustainability goals. The compounding impact of ‘the bottom of the iceberg,’ that being globalized supply chains making unsustainable products, is no longer allowed in our business, nor should it be in the industry at all.”

The new offerings, which are available in men’s, women’s and children’s styles at vivobarefoot.com, cost between $145 and $240. All Vivobarefoot orders come with a 100-day “no hassle” free trial.

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