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Grenson Introduces Non-leather Category

LONDON — British footwear brand Grenson has been making leather shoes for more than 155 years and now it’s entering a new market: non-leathers, using corn polymer and PES recycled from plastic bottles.

The brand has debuted the new line with a ‘70s tennis sneaker based on Grenson’s Sneaker 1, its first foray into luxury sneakers back in 2017. Sneakers now make up 30 percent of sales at Grenson, and are in the top five bestsellers.

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“We have been experimenting with new materials for a few years now and while many of our followers have been asking for non-leather options, most of what was available wasn’t great for the environment,” said Tim Little, chief executive officer and creative director of the brand, in an interview.

Non-leather by Grenson
Non-leather by Grenson

“But from our research we found this new product that is made from a mix of cornstarch and recycled plastic bottles, so we felt that this was the right time to do it,” he added.

The research for non-leather has been taking place for four years, but it was only a year ago they found the formula to create the current sneaker.

The new sneaker reduced production costs by 20 percent because of its multilayer cutting and 100 percent usage of the materials used.

“We have been making leather shoes for 158 years so this is very new for us. I like to see it as an alternative for people who like our shoes but don’t want leather, it’s not about changing the business. It’s about offering alternatives, so it won’t replace the leather shoe business, but who knows there aren’t many decent options for non-leather shoes,” said Little, who is hopeful this will bring in new customers.

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