After my first Let’s talk about sneakers!-Interview with Damian Augustyniak from We are Wado (check it out here) I read a comment on Facebook by Nicolas Lavigna. Pretty quickly we realized that the approach of his label NORM is a different one. Sustainable (yes), vegan (no leather, please) and 3D knitted (innovative). So we chatted a bit about his label, their no longer secret sneaker recipe and advantages and challenges of the 3D Knitting Technology.
Alf: Creating sneakers is not the easiest task in the fashion industry. Why have you decided to do so with NORM? Why sneakers?
Nicolas: Passionated about sneakers and working in the footwear industry, Arnaud, Antoine and me became more and more concerned about the impact we have on the environment. We started to analyze our market and we quickly realized that the situation was far from idealistic: The fashion industry is the second most polluting in the world.
The current business model is clearly unsustainable. Over and unethical production, high water, energy and chemical usage, an important amount of waste … and the proposals found on the market are unsatisfactory and incomplete according to our criteria.
We wanted to change the situation and find a solution. To have a real impact, we decided to start from a blank sheet and to create a new brand. This is how the story of Norm began. Norm was imagined with a holistic approach: Everything, from the design to the end delivery is done with sustainability and transparency as the central elements.
For almost two years, we designed, we searched, we developed, to achieve our goals. We didn’t want to compromise, we wanted to create the sneakers brand with the highest level of sustainability on the market, yet with a pretty cool style. Also Sneakers talk to everyone nowadays, it’s a great medium to tell story and send a strong message.
Alf: Your key are the three sets „Recycle, Reduce, Reuse“. What does it mean exactly?
- Recycle: The materials we use to make our shoes are recycled. The Knit Yarn is made from 6 recycled plastic bottles. The rubber soles are made of 70 % recycled rubber, 30 % fairtrade natural rubber and it’s 100 % recyclable.
- Reduce: thanks to the technique of knitting, we created an upper (upper part of the sneakers) in one single piece. In this way, we reduced our material waste by 65 %.
- Reuse: the sneakers are made from 90 % recycled materials and manufacturing techniques guaranteeing a long life. A needle & thread is enough to repair the upper of the sneakers.
Alf: In the production of a sneaker you still need new material. What do you use for what?
Nicolas: We use mainly recycled polyester for our knit upper, for our laces, for our labels, ribbons and lining. Our insole are made out of 85 % recycled mattresses and the lining of it it’s also recycled polyester. Our sole is made of 70 % recycled rubber, 30 % fairtrade natural rubber. That’s the recipe :-)
Alf: What are the advantages and challenges of the 3D Knitting Technology you are using for the production of your upper?
Nicolas: The advantages of 3D knitting are that we can use the exact quantity of materials that we need, we can use different kind of yarns, like recycled polyester, regenerated nylon, recycled fishnets etc. We can also make a one-ice upper ( like we did ) to reduce the numbers of components. The main challenge is to reduce the time of development, because it’s a lot of adjustments.
Alf: All of your products are PETA approved. Why is it important for you not to work with leather?
Nicolas: Leather is not a sustainable material, intensive cattle breeding for meat and then skins ( hides ) production is catastrophic for the planet. Also the environmental impact of the tanning process is too high, even when we talk about vegetable tanning process, it requires a huge quantity of water and only a few tanneries are equipped with the last technology of waste water recovery. The best alternative that we found for our project is 100% recycled polyester.
Alf: Have you ever thought about working with leather leftovers from the industry?
Nicolas: We’re not closed to work with leftovers or recycled leathers, but like every projects that we work on, we need to find the right partners and the right story for a new product.
Alf: When you think about 2020: What will happen at NORM this year?
Nicolas: Finally we are delivering our shoes after a lot of unforeseen things and bad luck! Building our community, launching our web store, finding retail partners, move into our new offices – that’s a lot of exciting events !
Alf: Thanks, Nicolas, for the interview