Our team is constantly connecting with those from around the world working to make a difference in a range of industries. Recently, we connected with the founders of MoEa sneakers – a new product presently part of a French Kickstarter campaign. Keep reading to learn more about how this new product will be changing the game for the sneakers industry, and for an exclusive Q&A with co-founder Achille Gazagnes.
One of my favourite things about being a business owner is having the opportunity to connect with other entrepreneurs and visionaries from around the world, and learning about their incredible innovative projects. With fashion innovations being one of my personal interests in addition to being an important aspect of sustainability, I always keep an eye out for what’s new in the industry. Recently, the product that has consistently caught my eye is MoEa sneakers.
About a month ago I came across a Kickstarter campaign for a sneaker line designed in Paris, with Italian materials, produced in Portugal. The sneakers are sustainable, PETA-approved, vegan and recycled, and are actually made out of fruits and plants. Not only that, but you can actually choose which plant you want, with each plant corresponding with a colour (see figure 1).
The options are: apple, cactus, grape, pineapple, corn, and an all-in-one pair, with the white being Apple Skin and the coloured details coming from the different plant options. Note: Apple Skin is capitalized because it is not just skin from apples, but a trademarked leather alternative. To learn more see here.
The cactus and corn leathers are derivatives of the discarded skins for these plants, while the pineapple leather comes from its leaves. As well, the apple and grape skins are made with waste from the juice industry. These recycled plant materials are then combined with either organic cotton, bio-PU or recycled plastic – depending on the type of plant. Not only has MoEa worked to make the leather of these sneakers sustainable, but as much of the shoe and packaging as possible (see figure 3).
For MoEa’s co-founders Achille Gazagnes, Benoit Habfast and Simon de Swarte, MoEa’s corporate responsibility would not stop there. To them, sustainability needed to be ingrained within every aspect of their operation, including taking responsibility for the end of life for their products. As such, they established a return program for not only the shoes, but the packaging as well, to be recycled and turned into new soles (see figure 4).
By doing this, MoEa is able to save up to 40% of rubber in each pair of soles. In exchange for your return, the company will gift you a 10% discount code for your next purchase, which will ship for free.
Now that I’ve provided a bit of background on the product, keep reading to hear from one of the co-founders himself, Achille Gazagnes, in an exclusive Q&A.
When did the idea for MoEa first come about?
I have always been a sneaker addict, but growing up I became more and more sensitive to the issue of global warming and felt there was a disconnect when it came to my fashion and my values. I decided that one day I would launch my own sneaker brand that would work hard to respect the planet. Then, one day in February 2020 I was visiting an international fashion fair in Paris called Premiere Vision when I met Frumat, an Italian producer of Apple Skin. This is when I first learned about biomaterials; leatherlike, but vegan.
I was so intrigued, I went on searching for this kind of new material, and this is when I discovered that other new companies were trying to invent new materials to replace leather with cactus fibres, pineapple fibres, etc. So, I thought that these materials deserved to have a brand to put them forward and tell their story, so I decided to launch MoEa in September 2020.
What is your long-term goal for MoEa? What do you hope to accomplish with these products?
My goal is to build a sneaker brand that is sustainable but does not skip on style. This is what I like with our fruit and plants: the sneakers are low carbon, vegan, and recyclable – yet I find the products stylish, and it’s fun to be able to choose among the 5 plants.
What was the process involved in figuring out which fruits could be used to create these products?
There were two main phases to the process:
- Testing the products – we tested each material to have the same level of abrasion, flexibility, and durability as leather.
- Proving the material is sustainable by carrying out a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) on it. We published an LCA for each product to show they are truly more sustainable than leather.
How did it feel to have your Kickstarter campaign fully funded within 32 minutes of launching? As well, how did it feel to have it funded 300% in 24 hours?
It was a relief. This has been a year of hard work with my team. Before the launch I was nervous that people would not support us. Failing in that Kickstarter campaign would have meant stopping the MoEa adventure. Fortunately, our launch has been a success and we will keep trying to grow. Plus, the campaign is not over! The more backers we have the more we will be able to grow and develop new materials and styles.
Which sneaker has been the most popular to-date?
The Corn one! The white and beige version is the most popular.
What do you do to ensure all of your workers and labourers are paid fair wages and work in respectful conditions?
First of all, I chose my partners. We go and visit evert factory we are working with personally. Second, we go local: we only work with factories within Western Europe because they respect European labour standards.
Do consumers have to pay to ship back their old MoEa sneakers? Or how does that process work?
Consumers will have to pay for the shopping return and we will offer the shipment of the new pair.
Is there anything else you would like people to know about MoEa?
Being committed is not about claiming it but proving it. Our LCA showed MoEa sneakers emit 4x less carbon than the average leather sneakers. We were audited and approved vegan by PETA. We were selected to be part of the non-governmental organization World Wildlife Fund (WWF) French Start-Up Club in recognition of our social and environmental commitment. Lastly, as part of our commitment to the 1% For the Planet movement, we donate 1% of our sales to the WWF Forest Protection Program.
If you’re interested in funding the MoEa Kickstarter campaign or want to get your own pair of MoEa sneakers, check out the campaign here.