Original Bamboo: Redefining eco-conscious footwear with Banbū Leather™
Have you heard about our Original Bamboo barefoot shoes? In April 2023, we launched this model in the color Forest Green as the ultimate combination of barefoot functionality, sustainability, and style – and the limited edition was sold out within a few days.
Since we started with Feelgrounds, we have been experimenting with innovative and sustainable materials. The Original Bamboo is an excellent example of that. It’s unique because of the materials used to craft it. The forest green upper is made from Banbū Leather™ – a new generation of vegan leather made from bamboo fibers. It stands out with its high plant content of 83% and is fully biodegradable. Although the limited edition model is already sold out, we would like to tell you more about the Original Bamboo in this blog post because we are already working on more exciting colors and models using Banbū Leather™.
What is Banbū Leather™?
Banbū Leather™ was developed by von Holzhausen, a company with the goal of creating a vegan leather that can compete in quality with animal leather. The criteria by which von Holzhausen develops its materials are: 100% vegan and cruelty-free, low carbon emissions, non-toxic, ethically produced, and minimal waste production. In addition to vegan leather made from recycled PET, von Holzhausen also produces the Banbū Leather™ used for our Original Bamboo.
Compared to traditional leather, von Holzhausen estimates a 5x lower carbon emission output for the production of Banbū Leather™. The vegan leather also contains no toxic byproducts, is stain-resistant, water-resistant, scratch-resistant, and weighs only one-third of genuine leather. The latter feature is particularly well suited for our barefoot shoes to make them as light and comfortable as possible.
Picture by von Holzhausen
The material is 83% plant-based. What are the remaining 17%?
To produce the material, the harvested bamboo plants are first crushed into soft, natural pulp. The bamboo fibers are then gently extracted and spun into yarn, from which the base of the plant-based leather is woven. Next, the bamboo base gets sealed with a durable topcoat that gives the material its leather-like appearance. Unlike most plant-based faux leathers, even the topcoat of Banbū Leather™ is 65% plant-based (the remaining 35% consists of solvent-free PU). This total plant-based content of 83% makes the vegan bamboo leather one of the market leaders. Von Holzhausen is currently also working on developing a 100% plant-based top layer. We look forward to when it will be available for Banbū Leather™. Exciting!
Many people have concerns about bamboo being grown in monocultures and under poor working conditions. However, for the production of the Original Bamboo, only bamboo from bamboo forests managed according to strict environmental, social, and economic standards is used. The bamboo used for Banbū Leather™ comes exclusively from FSC-certified forests. FSC is recognized worldwide as the best certification system for sustainable forestry in the wood industry.
What is the difference compared to the Original Luxe?
Although the faux leather used for our Luxe models is also lightweight and soft, the Original Bamboo is even softer than our Luxe model due to the Banbū Leather™. This characteristic was well-received by many who managed to get a pair of the Original Bamboo.
The Original Bamboo also differs from the Original Luxe on the inside. Instead of the microfiber used for our Luxe models, the lining of the Original Bamboo is made of Tencel™ Lyocell by Lenzing AG. Tencel™ Lyocell is an exquisitely soft material with a botanical origin. Plant-based fibers are obtained from sustainably harvested certified wood sources (mainly eucalyptus trees) and spun into yarn using a closed-loop production process. The smooth fiber surface efficiently absorbs moisture and helps keep the skin pleasantly dry and cool. Tencel™ Lyocell also naturally inhibits the growth of bacteria, helping prevent unpleasant odors in shoes.
Another small detail that sets the Original Bamboo apart from the Original Luxe is how the Feelgrounds logo was applied. While the logo on the Original Luxe is embossed on the tongue and heel, on the Original Bamboo, it is applied in a tonal print, making the logo very discreet on the shoe.
For our first limited edition with Banbū Leather™, the Original Bamboo was only available in Forest Green. Our Luxe models, on the other hand, are currently available in the colors All Black, All White, Black & White, Gum Black, Gum White, Sienna, and Metallic Rose. However, we are already looking forward to experimenting with further styles and colors using the sustainable Banbū Leather™.
Water-resistance & breathability
To make Banbū Leather™ water-resistant and to give it its smooth, leather-like appearance, it is sealed with a topcoat, as mentioned above. Therefore, it is not as breathable as our Mesh or Knit models, for example. However, the Original Bamboo’s lining made with Tencel™ Lyocell fibers helps with moisture regulation and naturally prevents unpleasant odors.
Care instructions for Banbū Leather™
You can clean your Original Bamboo by first removing loose dirt with a dry shoe brush. Then, use a mild detergent with some water and a clean brush or sponge. Wipe off any cleaning residues with a damp cloth. Allow your shoes to air dry at room temperature after cleaning. The Original Bamboo is not machine washable.
All Original models share the same sole as with our Droptop, Highrise, Courtside, and Snap models, making the sole measurements identical. Therefore, the Original Bamboo fits true to size, and most customers wear the same size as for their other Feelgrounds sneakers. If you are wearing Feelgrounds for the first time, we recommend checking our exact measurements before ordering, as shoe sizes in the industry are not standardized and may vary from brand to brand. For barefoot shoe beginners or low volume feet, we highly recommend our additional insoles. You can find the sizing info for all our models, including a printable Size Guide PDF, on our sizing page.
When will the next Feelgrounds Bamboo models be available?
With the Original Bamboo in Forest Green as a limited edition, we first wanted to see how well the upper material is received by you and how it performs in different applications. Due to the positive feedback we have received from you about the shoes, we are currently exploring which other models would be suitable to be made out of the particularly soft Banbū Leather™. Those tests are necessary, because each material behaves differently, and barefoot shoes have special requirements in production due to their construction and flexibility.
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If you have any questions or need personal advice regarding size or fit, our support team is happy to assist you. Simply get in touch with us through our contact form.
Your Feelgrounds Team