We're proud to partner with stylish brands making sustainable products. Thanks to Nothing New for sponsoring this piece, click here to check out their impressively recycled new line.
When I lived in NYC, I witnessed the dawn of the fancy sneaker.
It seemed like overnight, I started seeing these strange chimeras appear amongst the creative class on the subway: sneakers, but made from leather or mesh or wool and paired with chinos and a button-up. These guys were clearly on their way to a smart casual event or even business casual workplace.
What the hell was going on?
This was the smart casual sneaker, epitomized by the immaculate sleekness of Common Projects. They were somehow both casual and nice enough for (some) workplaces or a cocktail bar.
When I finally started shopping around, I was shocked. These prime leather shoes were upwards of $400. So I gave up. The cost of entry to the world of upscale sneakers was too high for me.
A Big Step Up From Chuck Taylors
The problem is, the other end of the sneaker spectrum is either running shoes or Chuck Taylors – definitely not okay for work.
I wanted a reasonably priced but snazzy smart casual sneaker … but the market wasn’t serving my demographic slice.
When Nothing New launched their own line of smart casual sneakers, it seemed like they could be a great option for a guy like me. First, Nothing New was founded by some of the same people involved in Thursday Boots – and I can personally vouch for Thursday’s quality and comfort – I wore them in my wedding.
Nothing New sneakers aren’t high fashion, but they are stylish enough to wear to a casual workplace. And not prohibitively expensive: they range from $95-$110 depending on the style.
We Love The Monochrome
The problem with a lot of affordable canvas sneakers is that they’re just too casual.
Nothing New deals with this issue by offering a lower, more streamlined profile than your typical Converse. No confusion with clown shoes or Screech Powers here.
While Nothing New offers a few contrasting-tone options, what we’re really into is the monochrome forest green. In the high top, they read more as a boot in a really pleasing way. In the summer, it's a great way to get the boot effect with a more breathable and warm weather vibe. While the green is my personal favorite, the grey and off-white have the same level of casual polish.
Whether paired with navy chinos and a button-up or jeans and a tee, these kicks are ready for the world.
The question is, can a sneaker made primarily from six recycled water bottles really be durable (and comfortable) enough to be worth it?
Eco-Friendly = Better Than Canvas?
These sneakers are made entirely from recycled materials. And when they say “entirely,” they apparently mean “entirely.” Even the heel counters, the internal support inside the shoe, are made from recycled fishing nets.
I know that eco-friendly fashion has made strides in the last few years. But honestly, when I think of shoes made from recycled materials, I generally think of burlap Toms knockoffs that you could wear to the co-op twice before they fall apart.
These are not like that. They’re actually good-looking, and actually quite sturdy.
Nothing New claims that their canvas-y material made from post-consumer plastic is stronger, lighter, and uses 160 fewer gallons of water to produce per pair than standard cotton canvas. They will also take back your pair when they’re worn out, recycle them into new shoes, and give you $20 toward a new pair.
Premium Build Without The Price Tag
Nothing New constructs their uppers using the strobel stitch, a manufacturing technique commonly used in athletic shoes to increase flexibility. The upper is then further stitched to the outsole, a level of build quality found only in premium brands, including Common Projects. Most sneakers are cemented using glue – a toxic process that creates waste, that also causes shoes to fall apart with wear, a situation you’re probably familiar with.
They’re even using recycled industrial rubber and recycled cork for the outsoles, recycled cardboard for the product boxes, and recycled cotton for the labels.
The completeness of the sustainable materials, the design, the comfort level, and price point are all working for me, the onetime sneaker skeptic. This is a product designed with thoughtfulness and it shows.
Nothing New canvas sneakers – well, canvas-like sneakers – meet a need and then go a step further. The need: an affordable-but-hardy version of the premium canvas or leather sneakers that have taken over men’s style.
The step further? They do it with a strict eco-consciousness that actually results in a sound product at a better price point – not simply going “eco” for the sake of marketing.