Independent footwear brand Oliver Cabell has entered the blossoming market of 3D printed shoes with the release of its new “Phoenix” sneaker. Priced at $95, the simple but stylish shoe is 3D printed from recycled water bottles and can be machine washed.
There is no question that the world is facing a plastic crisis: with over 300 million tons of plastic produced every year and only about 9% of it being recycled, much of it is ending up in natural ecosystems, destroying or severely damaging our planet’s natural resources. Even small efforts, such as reusing plastic waste to make shoes, can make a difference.
“We set out with the goal of turning recycled plastic into a light a breezy sneaker,” states the Oliver Cabell website.” And, to be fair, that’s exactly what it has done.
The Phoenix sneaker, which comes in black and white, consists of a 3D printed upper made from the plastic of about seven water bottles. According to the shoe brand, the plastic water bottles are washed and shredded into flakes, which are subsequently melted down, cooled and pressed in a die to form “long strands of yarn.” These strands are then “spun through a 3D printing machine” to form the upper.
In addition to the lightweight and breathable 3D printed upper, the Phoenix shoe integrates a lightweight sole, a soft microfiber tongue and an odor reducing liner, which enables the wearer to safely wear the shoe without socks.
Oliver Cabell was founded in 2016 by Scott Gabrielson, an entrepreneur with little fashion, retail or startup experience but a passion for “balanced design and quality products.” Today, the U.S.-based shoe brand aims to produce footwear that is affordable, functional and stylish and, importantly, ethical.
As the brand writes on its website: “Our shoes are hand crafted using the best, most ethical factories and materials in the world. We took the direct-to-consumer approach. Our shoes are made with the same top quality materials as other premium footwear brands. But our overhead is much lower…”