Recycled Plastic Bottles Used As Sneaker Fabric
New Balance used a high-quality polyester material to create the upper for newSKY.
New Balance’s upcoming sneaker, newSKY, is partly made out of a material called Eco-fi, which is created using post-consumer plastic bottles. This is used for the upper of the new sneaker and it is manufactured from 95% PET plastic bottles, with eight bottles needed to make one pair. The plastic bottles are chopped into flakes and then synthetic fiber company Foss Manufacturing melts the flakes and molds them into fibers. These are then weaved together to create a strong and versatile polyester fabric.
Eco-fi is durable and comfortable, 10% lighter than cotton and it keeps out the cold better than wool or nylon thanks to great thermal conductivity. It is hydrophobic so it repels water and it has been treated with Fosshield, which inhibits the growth of bacteria, mold, mildew and fungus. The decision to use Eco-fi for the entire upper proved both difficult and innovative. Design Lead for Wellness, Drew Spieth, said:
The principles of shoemaking didn’t necessarily apply to this fabric. It doesn’t work like a regular shoe material… A typical shoe has a lot of different types of materials. What’s really interesting about this is, aside from the foam and the little rubber components [on the outsole] and a little bit of water based glue, the only material here is the recycled fabric.