Hugs & Co. is a premium British footwear brand developed by brothers Benjie and Hugo Davis. The brand’s commitment to introducing sustainability to the luxury footwear market spurred the company to design a new style of loafer that incorporates a sustainable element. As it turns out, investing in recycled tyre rubber to create a top-quality sole proved to be the creative spark that led Hugs & Co. to launch its flagship range of TS1 Driving loafers. Tastefully finished with Italian leather uppers, the TS1 loafer is now the brand’s signature product, setting Hugs & Co. apart from the competition.
After spending some time developing a sole design based on the tread of historic racing tyres, it dawned on the Davis brothers that they could use actual tyre rubber instead. They were aware that some shoe brands had done so before (e.g., Africa’s 1000 Miler sandals made from sections of tyre), but the material had never yet been used in a luxury shoe. Using a racing car tyre from a previous project, Benjie Davis made the first prototype by hand.
Realising the merits of the idea, Hugs & Co. then reached out to various tyre recycling companies and found a supplier who could provide them with the right material in the correct format for the stamping process.
“Producing these soles uses only a fraction of the energy needed to mould a new material from scratch, so we’re delighted with the process’ energy efficiency. Obviously, the fact that we’re repurposing waste material is also a step in the right direction for sustainable fashion,” explains a spokesperson for Hugs & Co.
On the whole, Hugs & Co.’s new, sustainable concept has been welcomed with open arms. Customers are delighted with their TS1 Driving loafers and journalists with an interest in sustainable fashion and the luxury end of the market have been especially impressed. Although the driving loafer was a full year in development, Hugs & Co.’s creative process continues:
“This year, we released a line of espadrilles that use the same material as the TS1 sole. We plan to continue developing and releasing more styles as the range’s popularity grows,” reveals Hugs & Co.’s spokesperson.
While an upcycled tyre is incredibly durable, it was the quality of the material that surprised Hugs & Co.’s designers the most. Apart from being of good quality, soles made from recycled tyre rubber also provide excellent grip on slippery outdoor surfaces. In addition to these desirable properties, Hugs & Co. was also able to greatly improve the functionality of their loafers’ design during the development process.
“Environmentally responsible components are no compromise though, in fact, they’re an improvement on the original hybrid shoe design. In the past, a pair of driving loafers had only a limited lifespan. Now, thanks to this new material, they’ve evolved into a long-lasting product", explains Hugs & Co.
"Honestly, we encourage anyone who’s interested to give recycled rubber a try! It’s widely available and recycling plants can supply it in a range of formats. For our part, we’ve developed a product that can make a small difference, but the truth is that every design and industrial sector would benefit from considering using tyre rubber as a raw material in their production" - Hugs & Co