Menswear Style Podcast

Edward Temperley, Co-Founder of WAES Footwear

July 05, 2020 Menswear Style Episode 71
Menswear Style Podcast
Edward Temperley, Co-Founder of WAES Footwear
Chapters
Menswear Style Podcast
Edward Temperley, Co-Founder of WAES Footwear
Jul 05, 2020 Episode 71
Menswear Style

WAES Footwear are the world's only plastic-free shoe company. A collaboration of shoe designers, ocean advocates, surfers, scientists, and manufacturers committed to producing beautiful stylish footwear which leaves no trace. The WAES logo is derived from the alchemy symbol for earth and the name itself is an acronym of the classical elements of Water, Air, Earth and Sun which defines their manufacturing philosophy of combining science and natural materials. There are more than 24 billion pairs of shoes made each year from plastic compounds which go straight to landfill. This brand has a passion for the natural world and want to stop fuelling a system stuck on full-throttle and seemingly intent on burying us all under a mountain of plastic. Their vision is for a world of zero-waste shoes, one which promotes tree planting and works in partnership with the natural carbon cycle. Their ambition is to change the way shoes are manufactured and to prove it is economically viable to produce beautiful, durable, and ultimately biodegradable footwear.

In this episode of the MenswearStyle Podcast we interview Edward Temperley, Co-Founder of WAES Footwear, and talk about his love for surfing and what first inspired him to start a 100% biodegradable natural shoe brand in 2019. It was seeing the ocean plastic problem first-hand which motivated him to investigate making plastic-free footwear. Our host Peter Brooker and Edward also chat about launching on Kickstarter, industry greenwashing, the problem with microplastics, new sneaker designs in the process, and the best materials to use for manufacturing sustainable and vegan trainers.

Whilst we have your attention, be sure to sign up to our daily MenswearStyle newsletter here. We promise to only send you the good stuff.

Show Notes Transcript

WAES Footwear are the world's only plastic-free shoe company. A collaboration of shoe designers, ocean advocates, surfers, scientists, and manufacturers committed to producing beautiful stylish footwear which leaves no trace. The WAES logo is derived from the alchemy symbol for earth and the name itself is an acronym of the classical elements of Water, Air, Earth and Sun which defines their manufacturing philosophy of combining science and natural materials. There are more than 24 billion pairs of shoes made each year from plastic compounds which go straight to landfill. This brand has a passion for the natural world and want to stop fuelling a system stuck on full-throttle and seemingly intent on burying us all under a mountain of plastic. Their vision is for a world of zero-waste shoes, one which promotes tree planting and works in partnership with the natural carbon cycle. Their ambition is to change the way shoes are manufactured and to prove it is economically viable to produce beautiful, durable, and ultimately biodegradable footwear.

In this episode of the MenswearStyle Podcast we interview Edward Temperley, Co-Founder of WAES Footwear, and talk about his love for surfing and what first inspired him to start a 100% biodegradable natural shoe brand in 2019. It was seeing the ocean plastic problem first-hand which motivated him to investigate making plastic-free footwear. Our host Peter Brooker and Edward also chat about launching on Kickstarter, industry greenwashing, the problem with microplastics, new sneaker designs in the process, and the best materials to use for manufacturing sustainable and vegan trainers.

Whilst we have your attention, be sure to sign up to our daily MenswearStyle newsletter here. We promise to only send you the good stuff.

Unknown:

Hello and welcome to another episode of The menswear style podcast. I'm your host Pete Brooker. On this episode I'm going to be speaking to the co founder of ways footwear, Edward temporarily. A little information on ways footwear plastic free sneakers you and the planet can afford a no compromise biodegradable, carbon neutral, natural product. Their ambition is to change the way shoes are manufactured. Their vision is a world of zero waste shoes, there is a better way of making shoes and it's scalable. It promotes tree planting and works in partnership with a natural carbon cycle. I can't wait to get into this interview. But before we do, make sure you're checking out mentor style.co.uk that's where we put all the show notes and other articles that you'll find daily free content going on there. Let's get into it. Show it here's that interview with Edward templi. co founder of ways footwear. Well it's my great pleasure to introduce Edward temporaly co founder of ways footwear to the podcast How you doing today Edward? Really good calling you from one's half of ways HQ which is down in sunny Devon and the sun's out there's some surf later so I'm gonna do the podcast and get in the water. Nice Nice. Is this a regular routine? One of the reasons why you run your own company I think is so that you can manage your time and yeah, get in the water as much as possible both here and in either base in Porto. So right Damien Damien's just a few minutes from the sea. Seven his sea is a bit warmer, and a little bit more consistent, not ungenerous. Now, what are the risks? The only reason why I wouldn't take up surfing? Well, one of the many reasons is because of sharks. So but a innate fear of being eaten alive got no interest in that. What are the risk elements of surfing down in Devon? The risk elements of surfing down in Devon are predominantly entitled, SUV drivers, riding some surfboards. And crowds, the aforementioned crowds yeah, that's pretty much it, or risk of dying of boredom. For lack of surf you get during the summer when the storm tracks move north. So there's a there's a window of opportunity. The other window of opportunity is the cold, lonely winter months, basically. So we've gone a bit as unseasonable pulse of staff, which is why I'm excited. Now I will get into ways footwear shortly. But this leads me on to another question. How did you rate the remake of Point Break? And I actually worked on sort of tangentially parts of it. Terrible. Oh, absolutely awful. Awful. Because in a previous guys, we ran a we ran a company which did surf forecasting, so we were a little bit involved in the production is nuts. That is great. Well, look, I remember seeing the remake at the cinema. And ranking at the time while I was watching it. I was watching the original but I don't remember being bored. But here's my way of gauging whether a film's any good or not, if I've ever thought about it twice since now, I've never thought about the remake of bringing it up with you. But the firt the original I mean, I got I think about that film. I quote that film religiously, like at least every other week. So the original one I mean, it's a Bible to all surfers live by and pretty sure, yeah, the second one terrible. And you know, they committed a horrible crime with a very beautiful, famous wave into heat equal chofu in which they kind of CGI the out of all recognition when you just don't need to because it's already the most beautiful kind of dangerous wave. So that was the point. I think the South surf community looked at it and sort of shrugged and walked away. Ah, that's a shame. But what about the original then so the ending of the original that we're not going to last waves will spoil for people. But I mean, that wave is huge, right? I mean, where was that film? That was filmed? I think it was filmed in Australia. But that looked real as heck. I mean, not like the day another day surfing scene that you'll see as a pre titles, but the surfing scene where Swayze collapses in the wave fold right at the end of the original wave. Right? That's that looks like a real stunt to me. Yeah. And yeah, it is. Very, it's a very genuine, very genuine stuff. I don't actually know where that where it was filmed. I guess. It's probably most likely to be why I'm here in Hawaii. And it was meant to be filmed the location, wasn't it. The location was meant to be Australia. And it's meant to be the hundred year storm, but they would have probably filmed that wave in Hawaii, like almost tempted to Google. It wasn't talking to you see, well, it's true and I'm almost tempted to watch it while still Well do the minute that we hang up. Listen, Edward, talk to me about ways for web and give us an insight into how you got it started and your journey leading up to it, please. Well, there's the whole surfing being a surfer and being extremely keen on sort of the preservations of oceans and being sort of firsthand and seeing the level of plastic pollution that there is around the world like surf as a kind of like a bellwether into that, because you're in the furthest reaches of Indonesia, or some only think it's going to be beautiful and wonderful, and really actually your knee deep and in plastic trash. So Damien is a cobbler by trade, and I'm a kind of materials expert, and we both love shoes and design. And, yeah, we got together and we decided to build this product. And given our previous experiences working for sort of larger companies and large corporations that really just didn't give a flying. And can I'm allowed to swear on this, because you know, what, I'm a lion, a soulless Corporation. So just want to make a product, which sells has great margin, and has no care for the environment whatsoever. We decided with the with ways, we would make a zero compromise product, and that product just had to be plastic free. So we sort of started from that point, and then worked out how we could possibly engineer it. Damien had been talking to me for years, about this, and kind of ancient way of making shoe soles, sort of based in sort of 1940s French artists and technology. And this is this this, like the heavier soldier he is. And that's the really the basis of the shoe. Without that soul, we wouldn't have been able to go build up from it, basically. And then invent a couple of plastic free techniques and a couple of like a way of making an insole, plastic free, and various other things so that the threads and glues that we've created, right, so we started off with a kind of 90% plastic free product, when we were sort of in the sort of iterative stages of design, and then we sort of got it to like a 99% plastic free product. And I think that's what I wrote an original business plan on was a 99%, free, plastic free product. And then we managed to solve that final bit of the thread with some great help with rhythm also partners in Portugal. Wow. And that that was a plant of purely plastic free product was was born and real. I mean, you've had the idea, the germ of the idea kind of bubbling away for a while. And then I guess it's a case of right now we kind of know the ingredients that we're going to need to make the shoe. But then who is going to make it I mean, do you then go to production plants and, you know, shoemakers, cobblers, etc? And do they then have to reinvent the wheel there and to get this off the ground? So Damien's been making shoes for his whole life, and he, you know, he was he was making his own trainers. With his, with his bare hands and sort of your sort of traditional cobbling tools back as soon as you can walk pretty much. So they and he's worked for every single large shoe brands. So the opening of the doors wasn't wasn't a problem in terms of going and finding the factories. And, and yeah, that we just had to find the right one, the right partner, basically. Right. And what was that 1% I'm curious as something was hanging on in there that you couldn't quite squirm out thread, the thread, thread. Because all shoes even the most eco shoes or use or, you know, things that look outwardly look like they're kind of made from braided jute or something. They are held together with the industry standard thread, which passes easily through the production machines, and is coated in polyester, basically. So that was it. And so we had to build a thread, which was as strong and would go through the factory were tests, but then would also pass easily through the machines themselves because they've imagined a plastic plasticized thread is quite smooth. Yeah. And so to move fast, high revolutions through the factory machines was actually quite challenging. Yeah. That was an engineering feat to solve which really, which we did. Based on last the last one. Amazing. Then once you have like, kind of the product and the ingredients, do you then figure out design, aesthetics, the cosmetics of it? How does that work that process between the two of you to get it looking like the way it does? And a third guy that's perfect. I called Jay who does his stand out and helping us with the design process, and we had a good idea of shoes in mind, Damien. obviously been making shoes for forever. But also it was a real case of allowing function to inform the design. Because if you imagine the sort of standard way you make any shoe at the moment is you design the designer last, and you support it with basically ping pong, like plastic ping pong bit, so you can kind of do anything you want. Because plastic is actually a really brilliant material for making shoes. It's cheap. And it's flexible, and allows you to do all sorts of like, funky things. It's just a shame. It's so bad and persistent in our ecosystem afterwards. So yeah, so yeah, so it is and again, our second round of shoes that we've got coming out in August, or even going further down that line into, um, so the function, the design is informed by the function, and then obviously, it's up to us to make it look beautiful, which we I think we have, yeah, no, congratulations, mate, I think you've got a really good product in your hand, it's that it's that kind of look of a trainer that I like the minimalist, sleek looking, again, not logo heavy, but also, once you know, how the fudge is packed, so to speak, that it's eco friendly, as well as a cherry on top. And that, and that is the question is like getting that across to people at the moment. And that's definitely our sort of challenge because there's so many shoes out there, which are using the Ico label. And this isn't to talk people down. But a lot of it is just smoke and mirrors really in the marketing because there's a very easy to say eco sustainable vegan, knows generally all sorts of ways of not saying plastic. And what are they really saying them when they're having like these products? And they're putting their eco? And is it like 20% eco 50% vegan? Are they kind of just giving it a nice little logo to sit pretty, but pulling their punches at the same time? Yeah, I think it's just, well, it's a, it's a difficult it's a, it's a difficult thing. That's not something that I really want to talk down in terms of people trying to do good because there's so much bad that's done Sure, much, much worse, bad. Much worse, bad called terrible English. Much worse, worse than worse. worse, worse, that all four or four minutes, 24 billion pairs of shoes made every single year. Most of those shoes are made in factories with quite like deplorable conditions by extremely well known high end brands that are exploiting people of colour. And they don't care about E. coli, they might make one little eco thing or whatever. But they fundamentally are just like morally, moral vacuums. And so the guys who are trying to do eco shoes, you know, brilliant, well done, Let's all make more eco shoes. That's great. But yeah, I there are mentioned their names certain brands that particularly ones that claim transparency, but they will only market the good side of the product. So they'll say we are eco with wild rubber, but write a wild rubber winner will only be 20% of the soul. Okay, so if you're claiming to be transparent, you should really say the soles are plastic. Yes. That's the 80%. Yeah. See, I saw the website that you're alive. Well, you had a Kickstarter campaign. Was that how the brand got started? Initially? Yeah, well, that was only I mean, we're only barely really new brand. We've only just sort of gone past our first birthday, in terms of talking about the shoe. And we only delivered our first shoes to people in February, after the Kickstarter, which so yeah, the Kickstarter went really well. I think Kickstarter was a really great medium for, for doing shoe launches. And I think it kind of got a bit exhausted. So I think we were I think we were pretty much the last people off this Kickstarter shoe production line. Right. And I haven't seen a good one come since then, which has made me feel a bit better about our sort of progress to it. But yeah, it was it was great. It was brilliant process. And it's a really good medium fix of getting yourself out there and getting stuff known and people can quite humbling, I suppose if people are willing to invest sort of over 100 quid in issue of a company, they've people, they've never met a company, which is just promising to deliver it. And yeah, they did in their hundreds, which was lovely, which is great. I mean, like I can talk from someone that's had 1000 Kickstarter campaigns that have never got off the ground. Yeah, I mean, some of them are a bit kind of out there. Okay, give us what was was the one that you thought was gonna do the best. We had the most, most, most writing on well, like, I'm a huge James Bond fan, and I was hoping that if I could get a Kickstarter campaign going, I could get David Arnold to score the for your eyes only soundtrack bill Khan he did for your eyes only and it's not a bad score, but I do feel like it could be improved upon. And David Arnold at the time was just smashing out of the park with his scores for the Brosnan years of what, like, come on, if we can just get a million quid in the bank here, we can shove it over David Arnold, and we'll get not only a great Bond film, but a great score of it. And that I think they got quickly shut down copyright issues and whatnot, maybe, maybe David Arnold report it, who knows, but wow, isn't that that is an ambitious Kickstarter. Did you have to go? Did you do a video and a separate campaign? And a lot of times invested in this, I guess? Yeah, it wasn't, we did it. We did it all quite quickly, because we were sort of desperate to get it over the line. Because we want it to be that, you know, cuz you're gonna put your your flag in the sand and say, You're the first. soon as you start talking about it with anyone, you know, someone else could come along and claim they're the first and even though you know, it doesn't really matter whether you're the first so long as you're doing the right thing. Hmm. Yeah, it was kind of important to the sort of process we were on. So yeah, we read it, we, frankly, we rushed it out, and I would have done it. with hindsight, I would have done it a lot. And we've done it quite differently. And the campaign, yeah, the campaign, the video, the campaign, the creative, everything would have done it completely differently. You're I mean, you're filmmakers, as well, as you know, entrepreneurs, app developers, trainers, makers. So I guess you have a hand in everything creative with the process. Yeah. Yeah. So yeah, we are the process. Yeah. And it's a very, it looks like a very honest journey. You are surfers as well. So you are spending time in the ocean and you're sick of rolling up on the beach and finding fancy lids and your toes, etc. It's it does seem like a brand that comes from a place of honesty. And I think that's probably why people have latched on to it. Well, thanks. Yeah, hopefully. Do you know what it's microplastics as well though, that's like it's the insidious tiny, tiny micro plastics you just don't see which, like, in everything in the air, we're breathing, you know, that falling rate of like 120 pieces per metre per day. That's the stuff you find in like facial scrubs, right. And there's just knows that tiny amounts of braided plastics from shoe soles, 109 grammes per person per year from car tires, paint. So it's all the tiniest, it's the microscopic, almost microscopic particles of plastic which are clogging up our entire ecosystem. And they are in our bodies, and they're doing unknown things to our bodies, or there's a lot of science on it. A lot of scientists at the moment who are trying to work out whether the effects of having all these particles in our body is benign, or whether they are some suspect, attracting to pollutants. And you've got a friend who is a scientist who's writing a book at the moment, and she's pretty convinced that one of the parsh part of the reason for people being a basis to pollutants in their bodies. And part of that story is again microplastics Yeah, because it changes, it changes your microbiome and I I'm not an expert in it. And I'm not gonna sound a big conspiracy, not talking about all that sort of stuff. But it's as a great unknown at the moment around plastics and ingesting them as we do, like, a credit card of plastic every year or something we eat. It sounds so nuts when you It's crazy. I know. But it it has to have an effect. I mean, if someone if someone came out with the science that said, Yep, the plastic has absolutely no effect on our bodies. The amount of plastic around us has absolutely no repercussions on the way that you live your life. I mean, we already know that, you know, places like China kind of take a refusing to take our waste now, in Portugal in the news last week, saying that our landfills have filled up so you and France can sort out your own trash and be like, Well, we've only got another year left that we can put stuff on landfill. So what are we going to do about it? Burnett? That's what we do. Yeah. Well, I think we're all kind of scraping around for answers. So it's great to see someone like you tackling it and coming up with something creative like this. What we're looking down the line for with in terms of new releases and new collections. Is there anything that you have in store? Yeah, so we've got two new shoes dropping in August, we're not really doing because the other obviously the other major element to this whole process is recyclability. And not fulfilling that sort of fast fashion loop. So we're not doing seasons we're trying to create like time machines you always want to so we'll never do be like here's our Summer Collection. Here's this collection is or that collection. This is this is us, but yeah, we are Gonna make new and better shoes. And the first new and better new and better version, slightly different versions are dropping in August and we're gonna have a low, which is kind of a bit a bit a bit chunkier a bit more kind of a bit more sort of street wear a high top probably as well, sort of in the process of that at the moment, basically, and vegan and leather versions of both, there's quite a lot of challenges within the within the making of a plastic free vegan shoe. Because the way you get around, all of the pattern cutting with vegan leather is just plastic, right? We are having to find, do all sorts of engineering bits and bobs with new materials to try and make a really interesting and beautiful vegan shoe, which has no plastic in it, remind me of the materials again. So just with the materials that are kind of in the good column with the tick, what are they. So the materials that we've got at the moment are really simple. In fact, the first one, so we've just got a mixture of cotton and hemp in the in a in the in the vegan shoe in the hope. And then that's mixed up in natural rubber and some kind of glue made from conifers, which is kind of a glue that kind of has sort of dates all the way back to kind of the Egyptians really were the first people that started doing that using using using conifers glue, and then leather on the other side, but uh, but a really beautiful, thick, Chrome free leather that doesn't have any plastic coatings or anything like that, which is another reason why it's expensive, but there's a wonderful material to work with. And they can be good, they can be a bit of a conflict between creating an eco products, but also choosing to use leather within that process. And we do recognise that and that is a problem for some people that some vegans won't buy from us because we also make a leather shoe. Our conversation around that is that, frankly, there's just no material out there at the moment, which replaces leather, and both of it sort of in terms of its function. And when that material does come, we will swap when we are in process of talking to and working with lots of material manufacturers looking at that sort of stage two, and plastic free leather, but just the ones out at the moment, just not there. And it's it's like buying the first electric car is now I totally get why some people would choose to use these plastic, these plastic based vegan leathers, because eventually we'll get to non plastic based vegan leather, we will all be happy with that. But it is yeah, it is slightly redundant that we have such a huge plastic problem. But yet people are so Arden that they don't want leather that they turn to plastic and it becomes a bit circular in my mind. Like it's not really solving anything hopping from one to the other. Exactly. So there's that and this the solution to that problem is definitely coming. By the moment where the leather is a waste product, there's a vast excess of leather out there. Which if you get the right leather a it is eco is sustained. Are we literally waiting on people to manufacture or kind of invent materials? Yeah, I mean, there are there's loads of There's loads and loads of investment at the moment into that process and numerous ways. There's mushroom leather. And there's a good few other ones that we're sort of talking with that are doing that sort of next stage. And I think something around the sort of the mycelium base leather will probably be the the future and who invest in that that government or that private funding private individuals. I mean, you know, we're talking with companies with companies, so predominately American companies. And yeah, huge, huge, huge, huge investment is going into it. absolutely massive. Okay, interesting. Well, look, I'd love to be a fly on the wall in those meetings. It's like what you got? Well, I found this the other day. I think if I confuse this with some pineapple leaves, you know, yeah, we'll boil it to an absurd temperature. And guess what we found? Exactly. Well, listen, Edward, thanks so much for taking time out. I recommend everyone go check out the website because the photos as well as the as the products themselves are fantastic. ways.co is a place but we'll put all of the details on the show notes, which you can find over at menswear style. But yeah, certainly look out for the for the shoes and the trainers that are already out there. And then new collection dropping in a couple of months. Okay, brilliant. Thank you very much for your time. Thanks, ed. We're done. Enjoy the surf. Woody. Thanks. Edward templi there. Thanks, Edward. The website waste code w h e s.co. There you can check out all the sneakers but we'll put all the show notes over on men's West style dot code at UK. I forgot to tell you that if you want to be part of the show if you want to tell us a story of your brand you can do get in touch with us at info at menswear style dot coat UK. In the meantime, if you want to leave us a review on iTunes, if you're liking what you hear, go put up a review because I read them all and the ratings are up man we are killing it. So myself. So until next time, remember it's only fashion people and you're never fully dressed without a smile.