The fast-fashion system has resulted in a major overflow of textile waste. Our mission is to move to a more circular fashion industry, where we reuse textiles instead of wasting them. We believe that the discarded textiles deserve a second chance since most of the materials are perfectly fit for reuse in new designs.
At Wair, we are a bunch of sustainability nerds creating a solution to the wasteful fashion industry. Did you know that less than 1% of all textiles produced are being recirculated back into the fashion system - like WHAT? We believe that we can change this through the power of upcycling!
The soles are made at a factory close to Porto, Portugal. These soles are made from “eco-rubber” - a sustainable material made from 70% recycled rubber and 30% natural/virgin rubber.
The insoles are made in Portugal. They are made from 100% plant-based materials. This includes natural latex, which gives extra comfort, breathable Tencel and corn and Kenaf fibers.
We searched for a long time to find recycled cotton laces and ended up finding an Italian lace manufacturer, that had a good selection of 100% recycled cotton laces.
The jeans are sourced from Salvation Army Denmark and Trasborg in Denmark. They sort the different clothing (and shoes) into specific categories. One of these categories are jeans that cannot be reused - e.g. because they have holes in them. These are the jeans that we are using to produce our upscaled sneakers.
The workwear is sourced from a workwear company in Denmark called Berendsen (Elis). They have a great amounts of workwear, which is currently being incinerated, for either having stains or holes or simply for not being in an active collection anymore. The work clothes that we usi will often be of a polyester and cotton blend.
It is extremely important for us to find a factory that lives up to the highest standards when it comes to sustainability - both socially and environmentally. Being a start-up that both values sustainable standards and at the same time, make shoes from textile waste, it was not easy to find a factory that wants to work with WAIR. Therefore, we are very grateful for finding the Portuguese family-owned factory, with whom we are currently working with. They have responsible production practices and fair working conditions.
What is upcycling?
Upcycling means that we are retaining the value of the material - we are not shredding the fabric itself and making it into new fabric, but we are using the fabric as it is. By taking discarded textiles and turning them into shoes, we are taking something that was going to be wasted and transforming them into other products that are of the same or a higher value.
Do we create waste in our production?
Yes, we do. It is the classic “cookie cutter” problem, ewe can’t take the leftover fabric and roll it into a new big piece of fabric. Therefore, waste is created when we cut out the patterns. However, we are trying to limit the number of cut-offs being wasted as much as possible using a few methods. For example, we are using it for the details on the Zebra shoes, by being as effective as possible in the placement of the pattern pieces.
Recirculating products at the end of their lifetime is a complex matter. This is because it is both dependent on how the shoe is designed and produced (e.g. materials used, and gathering methods), and also the waste management options and infrastructure on the other end. In theory, we could produce shoes that are 100% recyclable. But because the municipality does not offer the option to recycle this material, the shoes would not be able to be recycled in reality.
Our sole supplier can take back the shoes and recycle them - and therefore we offer a take-back programme. This means that you can return the shoes to us when you can no longer use them and we will make sure that they get recycled. You can either return them to us in any of the stores where our shoes are sold or send them back (write to us and we will send you a shipping label).
If the shoes are still in good condition (they can still be reused), we advise you to sell them or give them away as the first option. Reuse is highest in the waste management hierarchy and always the best option in terms of retaining the value in the shoe.
How far does it have to travel?
If you live close to us (we are located in Copenhagen) - a better option might therefore be to send them back to us. It is unfortunately not possible to send them directly to the sole manufacturer in Portugal, since they have a minimum on the quantities that they can receive.