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This DTC Brand is Launching a Machine Washable, 3-D Printed Sneaker Made From Recycled Plastic

Oliver Cabell’s new silhouette is checking every box in modern footwear.

First and foremost, the Phoenix is manufactured using the plastic recovered from a little more than seven recycled plastic bottles.

“Over 300 million tons of plastic are produced every year, with only 9 percent of it ever being recycled,” the brand said in a statement. “The reality: every single piece of plastic ever made still exists…there’s only one solution—stop creating plastic, and instead use what’s already here.”

That mentality is at the core of Oliver Cabell’s new sneaker. The up-and-coming DTC footwear brand believes its audience craves that connection to sustainability and is prepared to supply it.

However, producing wearable, desirable footwear from recycled plastic is no easy feat. For two years, Oliver Cabell and its manufacturing partners worked to identify and perfect the techniques that are required to produce such a shoe, eventually landing on 3-D printing technology as the most viable solution.

In order to create a pair of Oliver Cabell Phoenixes, the plastic from recycled bottles are first sterilized and cut into flakes. Those flakes are then combined and spun into a kind of yarn that is fed into a 3-D printing apparatus. Thanks to the team’s research and commitment, what comes out the other end looks a lot like a shoe that consumers can get behind.

“Our mission has always been fairly simple,” Scott Gabrielson, founder of Oliver Cabell, explained. “To marry the finest design, materials, and process with the latest technology, while leading the way for socially conscious businesses. We feel that the Phoenix is the culmination of what we’ve been striving for since we launched.”

Oliver Cabell’s new sneaker certainly has echoes of the Futurecraft.loop, Adidas’ sustainability project that aims to produce a line of sneakers made only with recyclable plastic. Both stark white in appearance, the two sneakers represent a new era in footwear, one in which sustainability of a shoe is both a selling point and an aesthetic.

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For Oliver Cabell’s part, the brand knew that it couldn’t release a product that didn’t wear well, no matter how sustainable.

“While we wanted sustainability to be at the heart of the Phoenix, we knew none of it mattered if the shoes weren’t incredibly lightweight and comfortable. We couldn’t have it feel like you were wearing plastic.” Gabrielson said. “It took 48 samples to get it right. We needed to find the perfect balance of softness, stretch, and structure. The shoes are designed to be worn sockless, and includes an antibacterial lining that is moisture-wicking and silky-soft.”

Oliver Cabell’s Phoenix launches on August 13 and is available exclusively on the brand’s website.