Sneakerheads Jesse Tran and Son Chu are working to help the environment one shoe at a time.
In 2017, the pair found themselves discussing their shared passion for sneakers, eventually delving into the harsh but real impact of the sneaker industry on the global environment. "The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry," Tran, the company's co-founder and CEO, told Cheddar. "We want to change that."
The pair assembled a group of like-minded individuals to produce a vision: a sneaker that was fashionable, yet eco-friendly. Now Rens Original is trying to prove that sustainability doesn't have to be boring.
Rens co-founder and CTO Son Chu said the pair found a hole in the market where fashionable and sustainable shoes intersect. "Sustainable shoes, sustainable apparels were there, but they're not cool for the young generation." So they decided Rens should "be the first in the world that dominates that market.'
Rens Original, dubbed the world's first coffee sneakers, is crafted from coffee grounds and recycled polyester. While using discarded coffee grounds is environmentally friendly, they also have additional qualities that make them useful sneaker material.
"The coffee material actually has really great functions like anti-odor and anti-bacteria for a long time," according to Tran.
The slip-on shoe, which is waterproof, comes in nine different colors, designed with the company's signature hashtag logo on the base of the shoe. Why the hashtag?
"The way we see it, people use hashtags to start a movement or join a great movement. It's a symbol of a community," said Chu.