Just in time for 4/20, Weedo, the first shoe made with cannabis, is taking orders for a limited run of 100 pairs to be sold at $1,000-$1,500 apiece. According to Bernardo Carreira, co-founder and CEO and Weedo maker 8000Kicks, more than 5,000 have put their name into the lottery, which will pull winners at the end of April.
So why not make more? Because, according to Carreira, each pair takes approximately 30 hours to make.
“This is a very difficult product to build. One pair of shoes has up to 400 grams of CBD, so it’s not cheap,” Carreira told Sourcing Journal. “It has to be done all manually; you need to locate a lot of space and a lot of time with a studio to build them.”
Carreira, along with his company that makes footwear and backpacks from hemp, resides in relatively cannabis-friendly Portugal. To source the flower for the shoe, he collaborated with Royal Queen Seeds, a cannabis seed bank that opened in Amsterdam in 2011 and now operates in 17 European nations.
Cannabis flower cannot, in itself, form a fabric, so the hemp design common to other 8000Kicks footwear forms the core, and up to 500 grams of ground cannabis is manually stitched into the upper part of the shoe using a water-based glue for adhesive. Portuguese design company Nisiseltor Studio took on that meticulous task.
For six months the team worked to build one prototype that looks, smells and feels like weed.
“The biggest challenge was probably structuring the hemp part with the flower,” Carreira said. “We had to develop our own glues, testing some that were drying too fast, some not drying at all.”
Carreira said the shoes marry comfort and art.
“The lining and the insoles are what we use in our [hemp] shoes, so it feels very comfortable, but when you’re walking you start looking down and the smell is, like, chasing you, so it’s very interesting,” Carreira said. “The shoes we sell on our site are made to last, but these shoes are a piece of art, basically. They’re not made to last a long time. It’s a conversation-starter; it’s to pull that attention; grab everyone’s eyes and noses—that’s what we’re trying to achieve here. It’s completely biodegradable, the same as our normal shoes.”
As a producer of hemp—which is only a genetic cousin of cannabis and has no intoxicating qualities—Carreira has grown tired of people scoffing at his products.
“The most frequent joke is, ‘are your shoes for smoking?’ No, it’s just stupid, but people make this joke every time,” Carreira said. “Then one day a customer said ‘you should make an actual shoe for smoking,’ and that’s where the idea started.”
So Carreira challenged Europe’s biggest cannabis seed producer and friends of his at Nisiseltor Studio to “make something crazy.”
“We’re pushing boundaries of what can be done,” he said, adding that 80 percent of the tools used in the project had to be invented on the fly. “You can’t build this shoe the way normal people do… It’s basically from scratch.”
Apart from the design challenge associated with the Weedo, the other purpose for the launch is political in nature. Much like the checkerboard laws regarding cannabis in the United States, nations of the European Union have policies on weed that vary border to border.
CBD is legal in more EU nations than THC, which was why Carreira decided to use it rather than the more intoxicating flower. Even using CBD, however, comes with unique logistical headaches.
“It’s complicated logistics; you can’t just get any carriers. You have to get special carriers, otherwise you could get in trouble and lose your product,” Carreira said. “We’re still testing a few things logistics-wise because [of] the situation in Europe.”
Carreira said he has a warehouse in California and people who live in states where recreational CBD is legal are eligible to win the Weedo lotto.
When the 100 shoes sold this spring are completed, 8000Kicks will likely put the weed shoe on ice until next spring when 4/20 just may hearken another limited release.
“In tests [the CBD] attaches well, but we still have to see how people use it in the long-term,” Carreira said. “In this case, 100 people will use the shoe every day. We need to test and see how it goes.”
Legal obstructions aside, Carreira said the biggest hindrance to mass producing the Weedo is the cost of the cannabis, which even at its cheapest cut costs about $150 per pound.
Carreira believes the company “could do a couple limited editions.”
“First, we’ll see how this one goes,” he said. “It has never been done and there’s still a lot to test with the durability.”