DopeKicks: The World's First Waterproof Hemp Shoes Take Off On Kickstarter

Shoeography | Wednesday, July 31, 2019 | 0 comments

It's fairly common for people to be environmentally conscious in a few ways over others. We recycle our recyclables but fail to think of things like how clothing manufacturing impacts the environment.
It's easy to overlook but it certainly warrants more than a second thought. Polyethylene is the most common plastic on earth with annual global production at approximately 80 million tons. Plenty of this plastic goes into shoe manufacturing and design. One company is seeking to remove these non-sustainable materials and practices from its shoe production processes while ensuring the shoes can withstand the most active lifestyles.

DopeKicks is a cheeky brand that has made the world's first waterproof and eco-friendly shoes made from hemp. These sneakers haven't hit the ground running quite yet, but their Kickstarter campaign has raised over $245,000 so far and they're taking pre-orders on Indiegogo. As the team behind DopeKicks continues producing these environmentally-conscious shoes, the first orders are slated to go out to homes in September of this year.
With all of this work and fundraising going into the sneakers, what exactly makes DopeKicks so different from their name brand counterparts? The distinction primarily lies in the materials. The bulk of the shoe is made of strong cannabis hemp fibers, the insoles come from cork that naturally grows on trees, and the outer soles are made from recycled rubber.

Although the average American might think of hemp as an abnormal material, it is one of the oldest domesticated crops known to man. According to the Columbia History of the World, a scrap of hemp fabric dating back to about 8,000 B.C.E is the oldest relic of human industry.
Hemp comes from the non-psychoactive varieties of the cannabis plant. While the marijuana that many people use medically and recreationally comes from the same overarching cannabis species, it differs greatly in methods of cultivation, common uses, and THC levels. Hemp contains less than 1% THC, meaning that it won't get anyone high even if they tried to smoke it.

Hemp serves as a great rotation crop for farmers, as it detoxifies the soil, breathes in CO2, and prevents soil erosion as it grows. The crop requires less water than traditional crops and no pesticides, making it an environmentally-friendly and sustainable option.
Hemp seeds are often used in health foods and organic body care while the hemp stalk is what makes the fabric for products like DopeKicks. The fibers from hemp form a very strong fabric. While many non-traditional fibers are surprisingly sturdy, such as alpaca fibers, hemp is so strong that it can make rope, netting, canvas, carpet, and apparel. The makers of DopeKicks spent four months traveling and sampling different hemp suppliers until they found the right one to make a hemp fabric that retained its strength while offering flexibility and durability.

These two factors were important for the brains behind DopeKicks, as they want consumers to be able to wear these shoes in cities, mountains, and everywhere in between. They also added a special coating layer during the hemp manufacturing process that protects the fabric against stains, dust, and liquids. Although the average person wants to drink about two liters of water every day, they do not want that much water soaking their feet and DopeKicks feature a second layer of protection in the form of a special waterproof membrane to prevent that. No matter what kind of conditions you're walking in, these sneakers are going to keep your feet dry and comfortable.

The cork insoles continue this comfort. Cork is a material that serves as a natural cushion and it is non-deforming, always regaining its form even after years of usage. It is also temperature-regulating, meaning that in shoes it will keep your feet cold in the summer and warm in the winter.
The outer soles are made from upcycled rubber, keeping waste out of the world's ever-growing landfills and delicate oceans. While concrete is the manmade material used most often in the world, it's easily-disposable materials like rubber that clog up our environments around the globe. The recycled rubber gives DopeKicks the strength and durability the sneakers need to stand up to the natural elements by returning to its original shape after any use. They also give the shoes great traction without weighing the wearer down with heavy soles.

One of the best parts of the DopeKicks brand is that the sneakers are ethically made in Portugal. Factories in Asia currently produce about 90% of the world's footwear, but the majority of the workers are treated poorly and compensated at very low salaries. The one million Americans working in plastics manufacturing tend to have better conditions, but many still face unfair wages and treatment. The makers of DopeKicks, however, have chosen fair trade production that empowers employees in Portugal's thriving local shoe industry.
While the DopeKicks team inches closer to starting the shipping process in September, you still have time to support the Kickstarter campaign and get a pair of sneakers in your own closet before they make it big.

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