The look is refreshingly minimalist. The philosophy is minimal impact on the planet. This is the world of Hylo, the footwear brand that aims at revolutionising the way we see our high performance trainers. The ultimate goal is materials that are entirely sustainable and sports shoes that are recyclable. If that's not enough, Hylo's co-founders have a sporting background, so this adventurous young brand's designers have direct access to those who really know what's needed out of a pair of training shoes.
Former professional footballer Michael Doughty knows a thing or two about high performance training. As a co-founder of Hylo, he brings that expertise to every pair of Hylo shoes, along with a unique take on sustainability. "We had the idea," he told a recent interviewer, "to create a mainstream sports brand that fought for the planet. In my career as an athlete, I was inadvertently subscribing to these big brands that didn't necessarily share my value system or align with the future of sport."
In place then, of the Nike swoosh, there's the Hylo lightning bolt, chosen to represent both speed and the power of nature. The name Hylo comes from a family of plants called Hylotelephium, long lasting succulents also known as the "live forever" plants because of their longevity. The synergy with the aims of Hylo the sportswear brand is obvious. There's no planned obsolescence here, no following artificial fashion "seasons". Just a pair of high performance trainers that lasts and lasts.
The Hylo mission starts with materials. Uppers are from sustainable corn fibre, grown within 15 miles of Hylo's factories in Putian, China. "It's incredibly strong," says co-founder Michael Doughty, "it's durable, breathable, and it passes all the tests that are required for footwear." Corn starch is used for insoles, renewable natural rubber for the outsole, organic cotton for laces and labels. The result, says Hylo, is a 42% reduction in carbon footprint compared to the industry average.
What's impressive about the Hylo approach is not only its detailed approach to every aspect of production and design, but also its honesty. As the company says: "As yet, no material meets all our sustainability criteria while offering the properties required to meet the standard of performance we set for our sportswear. Something we plan to solve with materials science innovation." The Hylo journey is just beginning. Watch out Nike.