Timberland, Vans, North Face to roll out footwear of regenerative rubber from Thailand

Timberland, Vans, North Face to roll out footwear of regenerative rubber from ThailandUS apparel, footwear and accessories companies firm VF Corporation says that its three-year-old regenerative rubber sourcing project is finally coming to market with several of its brands releasing new product collections this year that take advantage of rubber produced from VF’s pilot programme in Thailand with Terra Genesis.

“Regenerative agriculture” encompasses a variety of environmentally and socially conscious practices, which aim to help support biodiversity, enhance water cycles, improve soil health and sequester carbon. This approach not only changes growing practices and helps improve the lives of farmers, it helps replenish and strengthen the soil, plants and the surrounding nature.

“As part of our Science Based Targets roadmap, our vision is that our top nine materials shall originate from regenerative, responsibly sourced renewable, or recycled sources. While transitioning to regenerative is a continual process, the farms we’re working with are already realising the positive benefits, and will ultimately help us achieve this goal,” says Jeannie Renné Malone, the company’s Vice President of Global Sustainability. “We’re proud to work with Terra Genesis and this grower community, which is continually refining their farming practices to reduce their impact on our planet.”

Terra Genesis, a regenerative design and development firm connecting brands with growers, has developed the first of its kind Regenerative Outcome Verified – ROV rubber supply system. Following a three-year pilot programme sponsored by VF, Terra Genesis collaborated with a network of farming communities in Thailand to scale up the production of regeneratively sourced natural rubber for use within VF’s supply chain. Examples of VF brands that are currently taking advantage of this new sustainable rubber are as follows:

  • · In February, Timberland launched its first product featuring regeneratively grown natural rubber – the Greenstride Motion 6 Hiker. Designed for six ways of motion, this boot features Greenstride comfort soles – balancing performance and function with four-way traction, comfort and breathability, and outsoles made with 55% regeneratively grown rubber. In late March, as part of its 50th Anniversary activations, the brand featured regeneratively grown natural rubber in the Timberland x Edison Chen Future73 Timberloop 6-Inch Boot, which also includes outsoles made with 55% regeneratively grown rubber. Mentioned are just two of more than 120 styles that will utilize regenerative rubber in 2023 from Timberland.
  • · Vans is utilising regeneratively grown natural rubber in its Circle Vee silhouette, the cornerstone of the brand’s new Surf VR3 Collection, which launched in March 2023. All of the rubber used to make the Circle Vee’s VR3Waffle outsole (60% of the compound) is regeneratively grown natural rubber. In addition, this season Vans will utilise regenerative rubber in the VR3Waffle outsole across an even broader VR3 collection of approximately 80 SKUs and more than 500k pairs of shoes.
  • · In Fall of 2023, The North Face will launch its first footwear products containing rubber from these diversified rubber farms. The rubber will be incorporated into most of the brand’s Surface Ctrl outsoles, making up 10% of the outsole in all but three shoe models that use them, including popular styles such as the Back-to-Berkeley boot, Hedgehog hiking boots and new Summit VECTIV Pro.

Rubber is just one of the materials already on its way to becoming sourced from farms or ranches using regenerative agriculture practices. VF Corp also has pilot programs underway to work towards regeneratively-cultivated wool, cotton and leather. In the meantime, the company says it will continue to explore opportunities with suppliers who are honing their sustainable agricultural practices.

To help assess regenerative agriculture programs and their participating producers, VF Corp is creating a Regenerative Framework of Guidelines with the help of consultant, Pure Strategies, covering a variety of farming practices, including those around rubber as a part of tree crop and agroforestry.