Reebok Is Now ‘Growing' Plant-Based Sneakers

Reebok just announced it will bring plant-based footwear to the market later this year. The initiative – called "Cotton + Corn" – begins with a lifestyle shoe but will be branching out into other styles later on.

“We like to say, we are ‘growing shoes’ here at Reebok,” said Reebok Future's Bill McInnis. “Ultimately, our goal is to create a broad selection of bio-based footwear that can be composted after use. We’ll then use that compost as part of the soil to grow the materials for the next range of shoes. We want to take the entire cycle into account; to go from dust to dust.”

It's a bold step for Reebok, which will move some 700 employees into a massive new office space in the Seaport by this fall. We caught up with McInnis to learn a bit more about these first shoes and what's to come.

Alex Weaver: Explain the concept of "growing shoes" -- what does that mean, exactly?

Bill McInnis: Simply that the Cotton & Corn shoes are made from things that grow. The vast majority of athletic shoes on the market are made from petroleum based products and those oil-based materials are not renewable. Cotton and Corn both are.

AW: How long has this concept been in the works and why is it a game-changer?

BM: We've been at work on this concept in various forms for over five years now. The trick was to create shoes without a compromise. Our consumers don't want to sacrifice style and comfort and we think we've maintained both in this initiative.

AW: What's next in the lineup? Will we ever see plant-based running shoes?

BM: We're building out a menu of materials that we can use to create product under the Cotton & Corn initiative including performance materials. So yes, running shoes will be part of this.

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