Sustainability is the new buzzword in fashion and almost every other industry, although it may be safe to say that it has become more of a necessity than a fad in the face of the growing challenges climate change poses to our world. Different attempts have been made in recent years to introduce safer and more sustainable practices to fashion, but the Johnny sneakers, which grows into an apple tree at the end of its lifespan, just may have cracked the code.
The Johnny Footwear company (which by the way aptly rhymes with journey!) was created by Canadian designer Luc Houle and named after Johnny Appleseed, the nurseryman largely credited with introducing apple trees to the United States. Houle was worried about just how long it will take for the average footwear to biodegrade once it is tossed away (1000 years) and wanted a solution that would 1) decompose faster, eliminating harmful and toxic waste and 2) not harm the environment in any way from conception to death.
That solution is the Johnny sneakers made from organic cotton coated with beeswax for waterproofing and natural cork for the insoles to eliminate foot odours and provide comfortable and custom cushioning. It also has an inbuilt collapsible heel that allows you to slip in and out of the shoes without having to tie and untie laces.
But how does it turn into an apple tree when you bury it or throw it out for an onward journey to the landfill? Well, each pair has an apple seed encased in a pod which is in turn planted into the midsole. When the shoes get buried into the ground, the biodegradable process starts, and eighteen months after, the pod breaks loose, releasing the seed in a haze of fertilizer which will aid its growth into a tree.
Simply because the sneakers are biodegradable does not mean they will not last long. The brand has promised that you can wear them as long as you like and the decomposing process will only start once it is buried in the ground.
The Johnny sneakers launched on Kickstarter in November and has so far raised $73,022. With all the interest and support it has received, it appears as though it is only a matter of time before other fashion brands, including those in the luxury space, switch to materials that mimic those used in the footwear. Maybe in future, we can expect our shoes to become whatever fruit tree we desire when we are done with them.
You can preorder a pair there in either white or black, or on the brand’s website here for $125. Orders are scheduled to ship out in June 2022.