Lighter, Better, Faster, Stronger
Forget Paris and Milan, Kickstarter is the new home of today’s cutting edge fashion. From wrinkle and odor free dress shirts to super socks and now ultralight shoes, the crowdfunding site has the world’s most interesting wearables. A new project called Unbelievable Testing Laboratory is making shoes out of DuPont Tyvek; the paper light, steel strong material allows a pair of shoes to weigh a mere 150 grams (5.3 oz) for a men’s size 11. The properties of Tyvek make the upper super strong, breathable and washable. If the rapidity of meeting its funding goal is any indication of market viability, UT.LAB has a big hit on their hands (or feet). They met 175% of their $15K goal in 48 hours! To date, they’ve raised $106K with 29 days left in their campaign.
UT.LAB has heavier ambitions than lightweight shows. Co-founders and partners Token Hu, Shaun Nath, and Joseph Constanty are out to change the way products are designed, tested, manufactured and marketed. Representative Gabriella Krichevsky says this about the company:
We are a company with a strong R&D foundation in China, have studied and mastered our cooperation with factories so that we can build fantastic footwear with vigorous product development through real-time prototyping at ultra-lean costs, and can bring these shoes to market via non-traditional e-commerce like Kickstarter. In a nutshell, we are not only trying to launch a new brand with an awesome cause [more on that in a second]. But, we are trying to fine tune the design, production, and channel selection for bringing products to market globally.
Basically, onsite R&D makes for a very efficient design-to-production transition. And marketing channels like Kickstarter, which provides realtime market feedback, allow UT.LAB to produce a shoe faster and cheaper that is far less likely to be a market flub.
The awesome cause in question is Teach for America, to whom UT.LAB is donating a portion of its profits with to promote math and science in schools.
While this is not always the case, lighter is usually better. With shoes, lightness adds spring to our steps, subtracts weight from our suitcases and may even have less embodied energy than its heftier competitors.
UT.LAB’s Kickstarter campaign is running through August 1st. A $65 pledge will get you a pair of limited edition ‘Pencil’ shoes (which will retail for $65) along with a Tyvek wallet.