We use natural latex rubber in the heel and for padding midsole in our sandals. We have substituted standard synthetic rubber as Polyurethane TPU and Eva for a natural latex rubber made out of the milky sap of the Hevea Brasiliensis. It is solvent free and 100% biodegradable. Our heel uses a blend of 95% latex, one of the highest percentages used for soles. Our padding uses a 70% blend of natural latex and wood and it has excellent cushioning properties.
Our natural rubber is sourced in Malaysia and Thailand. It is a tree native to the Amazon basin but it was exported from Peru, and took to Southeast Asia, where the first commercial natural rubber plantations were established. Natural rubber is a crop harvested in the semi natural forest. In order to collect the latex milk from the tree, spiral incisions are made in the bark of the rubber tree – which is called ‘tapping’ releasing the milk without harming the tree. The tree can be bled beginning in its 6th year after planting and its production cycle lasts approximately 35 years, the Hevea trees are recycled and replaced by young plants.
Natural rubber plantations offer significant benefits for climate change mitigation; since they offer high levels of carbon sequestration when compared with other major plantation crops.
WORK IN PROGRESS
Fairly produced rubber has only a tiny market share. We keep pushing our supplier to adhere to Fair Rubber Association in order to combine FSC certification with traceability and the payment of a Fair Trade Premium to rubber smallholders and plantation workers. We have used latex natural for the heel of the sandals; we hope we can implement this plant-based material for the whole sole in the next collections.