EYE ON STYLE: NATIVE SHOES
It seems the heavier the world gets, the more it needs lightness, and Live Lightly is a motto of Native Shoes, a company dedicated to designing footwear that is fun and comfortable and has a low climate impact and can—and has been!—recycled and repurposed into places for children to play.
There’s only one Native Shoes store in the United States, and it’s right here on Straight Wharf. Founder Kyle Housman visited our island every summer as child, bicycling out to Surfside with his parents and enjoying the natural beauty here. Decades later, when he decided in 2018 to open the first store in the USA for his Vancouver-based company Native Shoes, he knew Nantucket was the perfect fit.
Native Shoes have simple, modern designs that are comfortable and durable for all ages and pursuits. Ideal for island life—boating, fishing, gardening, walking the dogs, going to the beach, outfitting kids for summer camp. There are ten different styles to choose from, including walking shoes, deck shoes, sandals, and slip-on mules that pack easily for travel. Sizes range from 3 months to mens 13. There’s even a shoe with tougher treads designed for kids who love to play hard.
Native Shoes are constructed with materials that are lightweight, soft, and flexible and don’t absorb water or odors. They are hand-washable and come in a rainbow of colors, bold patterns, and eye-catching bling. The Stars & Stripes Jeffersons (one blue shoe with white stars and the other sporting red-and-white stripes) in adult and children’s sizes are fun for the fourth, and Native Shoes has partnered with Disney to introduce playful Mickey and Minnie patterns. The shop on Straight Wharf even has an exclusive Nantucket Collection: designs that are available nowhere else.
And the company, with their shoes and their activism, are devoted to helping the planet. Retail manager Beth Lloyd-Thomas explained how Native Shoes—the company and the products—“make it easy to live lightly.” Two of the top company goals of Native Shoes are to do the right thing and to practice “tiny activism,” which they aptly describe as “creating a better world one tiny step at a time.” They encourage innovative ideas (“ask more what ifs”), and although they are serious about their endeavors, they don’t want to take themselves too seriously. This environmentally aware company is doing all they can “to have less of a footprint on our world,” Beth explained, “We try to do the kind thing for our environment and for people.”
Native Shoes Remix™ Project is the brand’s flagship sustainability initiative. Through a proprietary regrind process, the unique composition of Native Shoes is transformed into a versatile and colorful material that is used in the creation of comfortable seating, bouncy playground flooring, insulation, and other products using recycled Native Shoes. So far more than 35,000 shoes have been converted to help in the construction of five new playgrounds. The weekend of August 13 and 14, Beth will be hosting a community-wide event at the Nantucket store, where people are invited to bring their old shoes—any brand—to be recycled and get a 10% off coupon on a new pair of Native Shoes.
Bloom is another innovative program to help the environment that Native Shoes has launched. This involves Rise Technology, a manufacturing process that incorporates repurposed toxic algae swept from lakes and freshwater ecosystems into the lightweight EVA upper of shoes in their Bloom Collection. The effect is to clean up to 80L of water and 50m3 of air per pair!
In addition to these actions to help secure a positive future for people and planet, over the past two years, Native Shoes has been working with a group of third-party experts to understand their climate footprint and how they can live more lightly on the planet.
Their iconic Jefferson is already one of the lowest-impact shoes on the market, clocking in at just 3.85kg CO2e per pair. Every time you buy a pair of Native Shoes, you’re saying no to higher impact options, with footprints of 10, 15 or even 20kg CO2e. Native Shoes strives to share their dream with others in the footwear industry: to one day create a shoe with a footprint of less than 2kg CO2e per pair.
Not only can customers feel good about buying Native Shoes—Native Shoes feel good! Comfortable, lightweight, and breathable, they’re ideal for summer fun. They go easily from land to sea (they’re ideal beach and boat shoes), as Beth commented, Native Shoes “are happiest by the water.”
Sized for children and for adults, the Jefferson is a Native Shoes classic and is also available as Jefferson Bloom, made with the company’s Rise by Bloom technology. Ava Bloom is their slip-on mule that helps to clean waterways with every step. The new line of Native Shoes sandals in five different styles are available in the Nantucket store, along with all the Native Shoes styles.
As sustainable as they are stylish, Native Shoes are a must-have for summer fun for the whole family on Nantucket Island.
Native Shoes is open daily at 40 Straight Wharf