Biomaterial breakthrough as PURIFIED launches zero plastic shoe

Today, on World Earth Day, PURIFIED launch ABACA – the world’s first shoe created with a Bananatex® upper and NFW’s PLIANT™ sole.

Following a four year research journey exploring materials from the Filipino highlands to the biotech labs of America, the London-based brand founded by designer, Will Verona, has created the zero plastic shoe to exist within the earth’s natural cycle, as they are proven to enrich soil at end of life.

PURIFIED’s debut shoe aims to address the environmental crisis of the modern shoe industry, as over 25 billions shoes are produced each year, almost all of which are recyclable and destined for landfill.

The shoe’s upper material is made of Bananatex®, a textile canvas woven from fibres derived from Abaca plants; a type of banana plant native to the Philippines. Abaca plants are self-reliant, requiring neither watering nor the use of pesticides. Once harvested, fibres from their stalks are woven at source to create Bananatex®, a naturally durable, tough and water-resistant material with a luxury feel. Bananatex® is a Cradle to Cradle Gold Certified® material.

PLIANT™ is a latex sole material produced by Natural Fiber Welding (NFW). In a process that encourages forest regeneration, the latex is extracted from the hevea tree to create PLIANT™. The inner sole of the ABACA features a comfort system inspired by the motion of waves, designed to adapt to the natural movement of the foot. The tread is inspired by patterns found in brain coral, which reduces the shoe’s weight while enhancing its grip.

SATRA, an independent research body, tested the shoe’s impact on soil health under ISO 20020:2015. For 90 days, the shoes were exposed to soil, which was later tested for toxicity. Tomato and barley plants were then exposed to the remaining shoe matter in an OECD 208 plant response test. It was discovered that under certain conditions the plants grew better than compared to regular compost.

While PURIFIED shoes safely degrade at the end of their useful life the ABACA meets – and surpasses – industry benchmarks for shoe durability. Abaca fibres are some of the strongest found in nature, while the shoe’s innovative construction is designed for longevity.

“On a factory visit to Sri Lanka, I saw the ugly reality of the landfill crisis up close, chancing upon a toxic heap of waste known as ‘trash mountain“ PURIFIED founder Will Verona explains. “I knew something needed to change, and in 2020 I began this journey to rethink the way shoes could be made. Thanks to the help of our partners in Portugal, at NFW and at Bananatex®, we are now launching a product we are incredibly proud of. At PURIFIED we aim to inspire a return to earth with our shoes, but also by championing a wider philosophy inspiring connection and care for our planet.”

To find out more visit the PURIFIED website