ASICS NIMBUS MIRAI™ Shows the Difficulty of Adopting New Materials


There are companies creating better materials for footwear production. Scientists are generating biodegradable materials for footwear and apparel. These materials from startup companies are better for the planet, but without the funding and adoption by brands, these companies are facing headwinds. Renewcell arrived with the hopes of converting brands to their Circulose pulp. It was the right plan with fantastic intentions, but the plan fell short and the brand declared bankruptcy this year.

The goal here isn’t to conflate two issues. Sneaker Impact recognizes brands will make statements about circularity and better methods of make, but they will default to the most profitable production methods. This leaves companies like Renewcell with abandoned carts. Brands develop their own strategies. ASICS has been one of the better brands. They created the, “GEL-LYTE™ III CM 1.95 shoe, which saw ASICS create the lightest CO2e emitting sneaker on the market last year.”

Now ASICS has announced the Nimbus Mirai. It’s a program similar to adidas’ Made to be Remade, On Running Cyclon and other programs.  Runners will be able to return the Mirai to the company to be utilized in the production of a new sneaker.

At this point, the entirety of the upper will go through the recycling process. ASICS has confirmed through testing that 87.3% of the upper material, which underwent the recycling process, can be retrieved as a new polyester material ready to be remade to run again.

Additionally, the shoe features an FF BLAST™ PLUS ECO midsole that delivers cloud-like cushioning and is made from approximately 24% renewable sources such as leftovers from sugar cane processing. The NIMBUS MIRAI™ running shoe delivers the quality and performance runners would expect from ASICS while prioritizing sustainable design.

ASICS’ decision to build out their own strategy for circularity is a window into why a company like Renewcell struggled. Brands operate with a streamlined approach to manufacturing. Renewcell is based in Sweden. In order for a company to work with the brand, the materials produced must be shipped from where they are generated to a supplier and then to a manufacturer. This increases the carbon footprint.

While ASICS would be increasing the carbon footprint by having customers return used shoes, which then must be moved to where they are grinded, they also get the benefit of that consumer interacting with the website or physical store location. What is hidden in the discussion of Made to be Returned by ASICS is ultimately some virgin materials must be used in the recreation of the new sneaker.

This is of considerable importance to Sneaker Impact as the research and development being done on grinding and separating sneakers will lead to those components being warehoused and then ultimately having to move to facilities where they can be “remade”.  ASICS Mirai offers a compelling discussion on why sneaker brands are slow to adopt new materials, but it also shows the extreme difficulty of finding a solution to the overabundance of sneakers being made with old methods of make.

Read more about ASICS Mirai on the source link.

Articles used in this discussion: Sweden’s Renewcell Aimed to Make Fashion More Sustainable. Why Did It Fail? – Bloomberg