In the first week of May 2022, The Dune Group Founder and CEO, Daniel Rubin, reached out to the BFA to share some good news. His business has launched a “stylish sustainable sneaker” brand, Lerins, which is now available to purchase at lerinslondon.com. We reached out to Rubin to find out more about the brand and ask our questions about its origin, sustainability promises and future in the market.
The Dune Group has launched a new British brand, Lerins, focused on sustainable sneakers that are comfortable and fashion-forward for both men and women. The creation of the brand was initiated by The Dune Group Founder and CEO, Daniel Rubin, and is said to be inspired by the unspoilt Lérins Islands, located off the coast of the French Riviera.
Lerins is taking a ‘Made in Europe’ approach from the outset by working with a small, family-owned factory in Portugal that has been “making quality shoes for over 30 years,” according to Rubin. The brand has launched with one core style – Palm – that offers a retro twist on the court trainer. Around 20 options have been created for men and women, created in leather, vegan leather and canvas in various bright and muted colourways.
Lerins – A Sustainable Footwear Story
“I need to qualify “sustainable” as it is impossible to make footwear that is totally sustainable,” Rubin explains. “However, the Lerins sustainable trainer is made from materials that are best in class.”
The brand’s uppers are made in three materials:
Leather made from Leather Working Group Gold Standard tanneries – these are tanneries that use minimal water, have strict control over the use of chemicals, and source hides from known and approved sources.
Recycled sea plastic – waste plastic that has been taken from the sea and made into a canvas material called Seaqual.
Vegan materials – made from grapes and supplied by Lerins’ Italian partner, Vegea, which makes a leather-like product from grape skins leftover from winemaking, combined with vegetable oils and natural fibres.
The Lerins sustainable trainer has a sole crafted with 50% recycled cork and 50% foam footbeds, while the outsole is crafted with 30% recycled thermoplastic rubber and 70% virgin rubber. Linings and laces are 100% organic cotton, and all packaging is recyclable, compostable and biodegradable.
To find out a little bit more about the brand, the BFA reached out to Rubin to ask him some questions. Here are the highlights from the conversation…
You had the idea for Lerins sustainable trainers last year. What was the process of creating the brand like?
It’s been a very interesting process. Like everything it has taken a bit longer than I hoped but that has been mainly about sourcing the sustainable materials and getting them delivered. Finding the right factory has been an important decision. We wanted the factory to be in Europe both from the sustainability angle but also for accessibility for development and lead times. We chose a small factory in Portugal. Building the Shopify website has been relatively easy although agreeing on the right content and creative has taken time.
What are the core challenges when it comes to crafting more sustainable footwear?
Shoemaking hasn’t changed much over the years. The use of plastics, chemicals and adhesives, which are used in footwear production, are damaging to the environment. Tanneries use a lot of chemicals and water. The good news is that change is coming. Leather from Leather Working Group tanneries is tightly controlled for the use of chemicals and the provenance of the leather is closely monitored. Factories are starting to use more sustainable materials. Plastic is being eliminated from packaging. The challenge is to make these changes fast, especially when there are strong pressures on price.
Is Lerins to be promoted as its own standalone brand or sold in-store and online via Dune?
We have decided to keep it completely separate from Dune, both from an operational and brand perspective.
Who is your target audience for the brand?
We are aiming for a conscious customer who wants a fashionable product but without compromising on comfort or quality. The sustainability and vegan element are important for this customer. I think we will appeal to a wide demographic and age group.
What do you predict will be Lerins’ best-sellers?
We have started with one style ‘Palm’. Sales have been evenly spread across the colours and materials. The more fashionable customer is going for the green or pink/mint option whilst the white (both leather and grape leather) is selling well. I have been surprised by how well men have responded to the product.
Do you have a sense of where the brand might go next?
We are ambitious. We want to be a global brand. Sustainable footwear is coming. Consumers are demanding it.
The Lerins sustainable trainer for both men and women is priced at £130. Read the brand story, here.
To feature on the BFA Footwear News Blog, contact us via: firstname.lastname@example.org. Find out more about becoming a Member of the BFA and the different types of membership packages available for large companies, retailers, individuals and start-up brands.