“Gym and beyond”: Why Kane Footwear is converting used shoes

Kane Footwear is continuing its emphasis on innovative sustainability solutions, with the brand launching a new recycling program to convert its slip-on shoes into yoga and changing mats. The North America focused footwear company – which specialises in creating post-workout, active-recovery footwear – is encouraging customers to provide their well-loved Revive shoes with new life through its Project Renew initiative. It will provide customers with a prepaid shipping label on its website, wh

te, which will send the shoes to upcycled goods manufacturer Lavarubber to turn them into the yoga and changing mats. In exchange, customers will receive a $10 gift card. Through the upcycling initiative, each mat keeps about five pounds (2.27kg) of waste out of landfill.

Kane also launched a new shoe on Earth Day on April 5, with its Sunset/Earth Speckle colourway celebrating Brazilian sugarcane – with 75 per cent of its Revive shoes made from a by-product of the plant. The shoes also retain CO2 from the sugarcane’s growth cycle, according to the business, which makes the RestoreFoam cushioning (material used as part of the Revive shoes) a carbon negative material.

Founder John Gagliardi told Inside Retail that sustainability has always been a core tenet of Kane Footwear’s principles.

He said that the brand uses a manufacturer in Brazil, which was selected for its eco-conscious, hydroelectric energy source, and careful attention to water usage. Meanwhile, its injection-moulding process produces zero waste, with each scrap being ground up and used for future shoes.

Gagliardi added that the brand opted for yoga and changing mats as it aims to create products that further promote physical recovery.

“Yoga and stretching are important active recovery facets of any workout routine. Creating these mats from our recovery shoes offers our customers another avenue for recovery so they can come back better after every workout,” Gagliardi said.

The brand – which is certified by B Corp and is part of the ‘one per cent for the planet’ certified – is working to become climate neutral certified, which would require it to offset the full scope of its carbon footprint.

“We knew from the beginning that we wanted to make the Revive with the best sustainable materials we could find,” he said.

“Our RestoreFoam is not cheap, but it’s pushing the forefront of sustainable material innovation.”

Kane Footwear shoes. Image supplied

Partnerships, ambassadors, and growth

Coming from a professional lacrosse background and competing with Team USA, Gagliardi identified that top-tier athletes were putting on shoes after their workouts that weren’t a great fit.

He wanted to develop a shoe that provided comfort, support and structure for people to slip into after they completed their workout. Subsequently, he devoted over two years to researching the most sustainable materials and recovery features for footwear that was consciously made, and fit for purpose.

Launching on Kickstarter with the flagship Revive shoes – which features a Croc like design and were made in collaboration with sports podiatrist Dr. Dan Geller – the brand received over 1300 backers, who pledged almost USD $120,000 (now almost AUD$180,000) to bring the project to life. 

Kane Footwear has since collaborated with elite athletes, including Brian Mazza and Hilary Knight, and partnered with companies such as Equinox, MiiR and Athletic Brewing. In 2023 the brand launched retail partnerships with Nordstrom and Scheels and, according to Gagliardi, grew by over 250 per cent over 2022.

He said that the brand initially focused on recovery after noticing a gap in the market for a sustainable, active recovery focused shoe.

“We designed the shoe to balance cushioning and support — you don’t want to have a recovery shoe that’s too cushioned, or else you’ll wear yourself down trying to balance yourself on the super soft foam,” he said.

“Our Revive slip-ons [are] primarily designed for athletes, [but] its cushioned and structured design make it a great shoe for walking, household chores, and travel.

“I think more consumers are looking for apparel and footwear that will take them through the full day, from the gym to the house and beyond.”

A good fit

Kane Footwear has recently launched a kids shoes range, which was inspired by the fact that more kids are becoming multisport athletes, and running between games and practices. Gagliardi said that the range was also a good fit for the brand, because Revive shoes are intuitively a great kids shoe.

“The renewable, plant-based foam is fully waterproof and easy to clean. Thanks to the closed-toe design, they’re perfect for school, and the pull tab above the heel makes it easy to slip on or pull off,” he said.

“We also heard from many customers that they wanted to match with their kids, so there was a lot of interest from our base.”

He added that the brand is planning “exciting collaborations” with athletes and like-minded brands later this year – with a key focus being that they prioritise both the body and the planet.