Hong Kong has just welcomed a new homegrown eco sneaker label, as the category becomes increasingly heated with mainstream and boutique brands quick to tap into the trend. These new Lono sneakers describe themselves as “insanely breathable” – so much so you can wear them without socks and feel extra good in them too because they’re made with 100% vegan, eco-friendly and natural materials.
Launched on Kickstarter just days ago, Lono is a new Hong Kong-based brand founded by Ben Hui, whose passion for shoe-making originated from his heritage. Hui’s grandfather opened one of the city’s very first shoe factories in the 1950s, so naturally, he followed in his footsteps and began working in the footwear industry a decade ago.
But he wanted to “do it better” and shift away from the industry status quo of unsustainable high-volume, low-quality production to make something that was the “ultimate casual shoe” that consumers are looking for, yet ticked the boxes when it comes to its eco footprint.
These sockless shoes, designed to give the support of comfortable sneakers combined with the “freedom of flip flops”, are made from all-natural plant-based materials. Speaking with Green Queen Media, Hui explains how the uppers are crafted from Tencel fibres made from FSC-certified wood pulp, using a flyknit process that leaves behind no residual material waste and requires zero glue to make recycling etasy.
Lono is maximising the potential and properties of these organic materials and translating them into shoes with remarkable functionality.Ben Hui, Founder, Lono
The insoles are made out of castor bean oil, which slashes the petroleum-based content of the material by 50% compared to its conventional counterparts, while the sneaker bottoms contain algae-based pallets sourced from U.S. firm Bloom.
While there seems to be a new eco sneaker launching every week, as brands try to hold onto their appeal with conscious consumers, Hui says that he believes Lono stands out because it can provide comfort, convenience and sustainability at the same time, in a way that he claims ditches the greenwashing approach that other brands have taken.
“Shoe brands across the world are turning to sustainable materials, but misusing them for the purpose of marketing, whereas Lono is maximising the potential and properties of these organic materials and translating them into shoes with remarkable functionality,” the founder tells Green Queen Media.
“Tree fibre is naturally breathable, anti-bacterial, and odour resistant, making it an ideal material for shoes, [and] how we apply tree fibre in the shoe is different to others. The knit pattern is also engineered to maximise air flow while maintaining the grip of the shoe,” Hui continues.
Shoe brands across the world are turning to sustainable materials, but misusing them for the purpose of marketing.Ben Hui, Founder, Lono
LONO takes its inspiration from the first known human shoes: sagebrush bark sandals. Modern manufacturing technology enables the team to turn tree bark into fine yarn which becomes the shoe’s zero-waste flyknit upper. This yarn is soft and quick-drying, more so than its wool counterparts. An AIRSIP mesh pattern creates significant airflow throughout the shoe and also provides the right balance of stretch and security for every step.
Having just debuted his campaign on Kickstarter, Hui says that he hopes this passion project, which took three years in the making, will become a reality. Right now, each shoe is available for US$79 and is shipped internationally. But the brand eventually wants to launch a “physical experience shops” by the end of 2021 – but with a zero inventory retail model, where orders will be taken every two weeks to ensure they are supplying the exact demand, in true waste-free fashion.
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All images courtesy of Lono.