Ustainability in product development has been around the fashion industry for some time already, with designers and brands looking into using recyclable materials for their wares.
One example is Civic Duty, an up-and-coming American footwear brand whose shoes have a crumpled paper effect through Tyvek, a lightweight synthetic durable material with waterproof properties made by DuPont.
Tyvek is a recyclable plastic material that closely resembles paper. It is commonly used for everyday items like air mail envelopes and protective coveralls for those working in laboratories. In fashion and pop culture, it can be recalled that Fiorucci once sent out a collection made out of Tyvek in 1976, and how the rock band Devo once used Tyvek suits and shirts.
The functionality of Tyvek stirred the creative juices of Steven Weinreb, the founder and “Chief Inspiration Officer” of Civic Duty. “I was working with a brand that created a travel sneaker packaged in a Tyvek bag. I remember how blown away I was at the properties of the material,” shares Weinreb in the brand’s official website (www.civicdutyshoes.com).
Civic Duty’s product portfolio usually consists of sneakers in different colors, each pair bearing the noticeable detail of a crinkled paper look. The brand prides itself for its “fashion-forward” approach to footwear, lightweight yet “water resistant and highly durable.”
Adds Weinreb, “The Tyvek has been pre-wrinkled to give our shoes a ‘worn’ look right out of the box. It is normal that over time, the color of the shoe will fade a bit, adding to the vintage look.
“Our shoes are made with glues and dyes that are environmentally friendly. Our streamlined packaging is made of recycled materials.”
In the Philippines, it seems that Civic Duty is being marketed as a middle-priced brand aimed toward the youth (from teens to young professionals).
“Civic Duty shoes are perfect for both the summer and the rainy seasons,” says Aren Pe, owner and CEO of the Burrard Collective Inc., Civic Duty’s official and exclusive distributor in the Philippines.
The brand’s entry into the Philippines provides a welcome addition to the country’s diverse roster of sneaker brands. However, according to Pe, a relatively new label like Civic Duty may require style influencers first in order to fare better among Filipino buyers.
To illustrate, Pe recently collaborated with various local young artists and celebrities for Civic Duty’s Philippine launch, tapping the likes of designers Jerome Lorico and Maco Custodio, along with personalities like Sanya Smith and Rovilson Fernandez, among others.
Pe asked them to customize their own pair of Civic Duty shoes, which aimed to demonstrate how each pair can be personally embellished easily. The shoes were displayed in a one-night Live Art and Custom Shoe Exhibit mounted at the KYSS bar in Makati City.
It was an apt way to jumpstart the brand’s presence in the country, says Pe, who is hopeful to open a stand alone store for Civic Duty in Manila someday (the brand’s shoes are currently sold in shoe stores like Greyone Social in Greenbelt 5 and the local online retailer Zalora). The exhibit was also part of Pe’s support for Philippine artistry.
Perhaps Pe’s approach just reflected Weinreb’s approach for a proactive business. Every year, Civic Duty designs one special shoe model dedicated to a social cause, where profit gathered from its sales will be donated to one organization. In 2011, Weinreb chose to support the Common Ground Relief, a group that helps rebuild disaster-struck communities in New Orleans.
By EUGENE Y. SANTOS