Forget plastic, the sneakers of the future are more likely to draw on what the natural world has to offer. And that's exactly what Umòja Shoes is doing, as the brand launches its first pair of sneakers that are entirely plant-based and biodegradable, from the sole to the upper, and from the dyes to the glue.
The two cofounders of the Umòja Shoes brand, Lancine Koulibaly and Dieuveil Ngoubou, took two years to develop this pair of eco-friendly, traceable sneakers, made using quality materials rooted in nature. After a first collection launched in 2019, the two friends became aware of the importance of removing plastic from their shoe designs, and chose to count on research and development to find the answers. It was in Africa that the project really took shape, through meetings and encounters, and by discovering artisanal expertise in countries like Burkina Faso, Senegal, Ivory Coast and Mali.
The result is a shoe called the "MMEA," which means "plant" in Swahili. It is the first pair of plant-based, biodegradable sneakers from this new brand, for which transparency is important. On its e-store, shoppers can find out about the materials used to make the brand's sneakers, as well as their origin and location of production. These are basically entirely traceable creations, made using high-quality materials produced from Africa to Europe, in Burkina Faso, in France and in Portugal.
The "Mmea" shoe has an upper in raw organic cotton, artisan-woven in Burkina Faso, an outer sole made using rubbertree milk and a midsole in hemp fiber. And the brand has every base covered, since even the dyes are made using leaves and plants, the stitching threads, laces, loops and stripes are made with raw linen, and natural latex is used for the glue.
The brand has launched a crowdfunding campaign on the Ulule platform in the aim of funding the production of these plant-based sneakers. They are available to pre-order priced €129 and production will be launched when a minimum 200 sales have been achieved. And the brand looks on track to succeed, given the project's success so far, reaching 800% of its target with still 13 days to go. And that's just the start of things for this upcoming brand.