In 2017, shoe designer and entrepreneur Samir Souid saw a documentary that would change his life: “A Plastic Ocean”, the prize-winning film from journalist Craig Leeson, which details how the eight million tons of plastic being dumped into the ocean annually affects the environment and biodiversity.
“The film really hit home with me,” says Samir Souid, “Maybe because my first son was on the way, and I was thinking a lot about the type of world he’d be growing up in. I just knew I had to do something to help, and that’s when the idea of a shoe made from ocean plastic popped into my head.”
Samir Souid went to Spain to visit a factory specializing in producing clothing made from recycled materials. That’s where he met the team behind Seaqual (www.seaqual.org) – an organization that works with fishing boats all over the world to pull macroplastic out of the ocean. It’s then deconstructed into a new, canvas-like material that can be used for a number of products – one of them being shoes.
Denmark’s first 100% sustainable sneaker
After two years of research and product development, the first collection from Surface Project is finally ready. The shoes, available in six colors (white, black, navy, petroleum green, burgundy and burnt orange) are the first Danish sneakers to be 100% sustainably produced. This means the materials aren’t treated with any chemicals, or dyed with ingredients that are harmful to the environment. The rubber soles on Surface Project shoes are made from reclaimed sneaker soles, and the insole is made from moisture-absorbing natural cork.
“‘Sustainability’ has become a buzz word in the fashion industry, but a lot of products aren’t made in a way that’s sustainable from start to finish. I wanted to do things right. The upper part of the shoe is produced from upcycled macroplastic from the ocean and recycled cotton, and all the dyes are chemical-free,” explains Samir Souid. Once you’ve found a pair you love, you can feel good knowing Surface Project pays to ship them in the most environmentally-conscious way available – and, of course, your purchase always arrives in a box made entirely from recycled materials.
It’s been two years since Samir Souid saw “A Plastic Ocean” for the first time. And he knows that a new kind of shoe might not be able to change the world, but every step in the right direction matters: “I hope, I can be part of starting a movement, where people become more aware of how their clothing is being produced. The launch of our first collection is a major milestone of us, but I can’t wait to expand the brand. This is just the beginning.”