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Sneakers that prove sustainability sells

Casca Shoes
Posted 2021-11-25
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To mark World Car Free Day, Casca footwear and Volvo Cars Canada released a limited-edition sneaker inspired by the XC40 Recharge, the automaker’s full electric compact SUV. For Casca co-founder and UBC Sauder Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) alum, Braden Parker, the collaboration celebrates that every step towards sustainability matters.

The innovative shoe, the Kör Knit, is crafted with a recycled car tire speckle in the sole, as well as recycled plastic bottles to strengthen the yarn in the knit portion of the sneaker. The shoe has proven to be a customer favourite, selling out within 10 hours of launch in late September.

For Casca, the shoe is the latest in a growing line of footwear that prioritizes product longevity and sustainability.

“A lot of waste in footwear and apparel comes from the manufacturing process. We wanted to make shoes that could last for years instead of months,” says Parker. “Additionally, by using specific filaments with our 3-D printing we have the ability to recycle the filament and re-print in the future.

Sourcing inspiration from the outdoors

Sneakers and cars aren’t necessarily the most natural pairing, but it’s this kind of creativity and forward-thinking that sets Casca apart from its competitors. As a Vancouver resident, Parker says he gleans inspiration and perspective from the natural environment of the West Coast.

It’s when he’s out for a run or conquering the Grouse Grind, a notoriously steep hike up Grouse Mountain located in North Vancouver, that Parker says he can clear his mind and make room for ingenuity.

“When I’m in this state of not thinking is when I find some of the best ideas come through,” says Parker. “There are some things when it comes to creativity and strategy that don’t come to you when you're sitting at a desk.”

 

Sustainability as a company ethos

Casca markets its footwear as being “made responsibly, sold honestly and designed to take you anywhere.” Sustainable business practice is engrained in their company ethos, and for Parker, it goes beyond the craftsmanship and technology of their products.

“Every choice you make is what impacts being a responsible business owner,” says Parker. “From the people you hire, how you deal with customers, your messaging, your product or your service – all those small choices add up,” says Parker.

One of those choices is Casca’s commitment to donate a percentage of every shoe sale to Code.org, a non-profit organization dedicated to expanding access to computer science in schools.

“I personally believe education is the single best charitable or any sort of investment that you can make to create positive change,” says Parker. “Code.org helps you learn to code and how to leverage technology in a way to build a future.”

Parker’s own education has shown to be a solid investment. Having graduated from UBC Sauder in 2013, Parker has previously spoken about how his experiences in the BCom program were pivotal to his success.

“The skills I learned in New Venture Design from Paul Cubbon and Darren Dahl have been foundational for me. Experimenting and testing out business hypotheses has always been a part of my approach. I don’t think I could have achieved all of this at the pace I did without my education.”

 

Eyeing expansion and new styles

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a tough period for many businesses, but Casca has defied the trends and grown substantially since its launch in December 2019. “We ran out of shoes during the pandemic because we were growing so fast,” says Parker.

The company is now looking at expansion into Europe, exploring various wholesale and pop-up opportunities in the United States, and is even branching out by designing a new Chelsea boot style in 2022.

With the scenery and vibe of the West Coast as its muse, and a commitment to building a better future through footwear, Casca is proving one pair at a time, that sustainability sells.

Want to read more about Casca and UBC Sauder alum Braden Parker? Check out our story, Forging a new path in footwear