Footwear and fitness brand Reebok has launched the first sneaker from its "Cotton + Corn" sustainable products program, an effort first announced more than 16 months ago, according to a Reebok press release emailed to Retail Dive.
The shoe, the NPC U.K. Cotton + Corn, contains "75% USDA-certified bio-based content," including a 100% cotton upper, a corn-based sole, and insoles derived from castor bean oil, Reebok stated.
The sneakers are available now in limited quantities, and with a price tag of $95 per pair, only online through Reebok.com. The shoes also arrive in packaging that is 100% recycled.
It has been almost a year and a half since Reebok teamed up with DuPont Tate & Lyle Bio Products for its Cotton + Corn initiative, which at the time seemed like one of the more ambitious and more specific (in terms of materials) sustainable products programs in the footwear market. Reebok said in its press release that it is working on many more products as part of the program.
Sustainability and environmentally-progressive production practices have become increasingly common in the footwear market, though usually they are somewhat small-scale endeavors. The sector has seen numerous such efforts in recent years as shoe manufacturers and brands have sought to lessen their reliance on petroleum-based products. For example, Reebok owner Adidas has its own program to produce shoes made from recycled plastic ocean waste.
Many years after what was viewed by many as a troubled acquisition by Adidas, Reebok continues to have relevance and value as a footwear brand, though arguably more for its throwback shoes than for any new technology endeavors or its recent campaign to conquer the fitness segment. The brand holds less than 1% market share in the sports lifestyle footwear market, according to an NPD research estimate published by Footwear News.
Can the Cotton + Corn program help Reebok grow that stake? The price of the first pair of shoes developed through the program is pretty affordable, perhaps surprisingly so. But, like many innovative footwear lines, market availability of this initial shoe model is very limited, and Reebok will probably need to release the next products from its Cotton + Corn family a bit faster than the 16 months it took to bring this shoe to market if it expects Cotton + Corn to have some strong positive impact on its bottom line.