nat-2™ is a German based footwear company producing luxury sneakers made from sustainable and innovative materials. The brand was founded in Munich by Sebastian Thies, a 6th generation footwear professional with a strong passion for high-end sneakers.
nat-2™’s journey started in 2007 when, after several years of research, Sebastian Thies launched the first ever 2 in 1 shoes’ concept. The design consisted of an unzippable sneaker which could also be converted into a slipper. The project aimed to reduce the amount of shoes needed and to help travellers minimise their luggage. The innovative concept was an immediate success and was internationally recognised with several awards.
Nowadays, nat-2™ is well-known for its innovative and creative approach manufacturing long-lasting and timeless shoes that have the least environmental and social impacts. It is what the company defines as “good design”: “For nat-2™ the reason for using many sustainable and eco-friendly materials and techniques is not only the ecological aspect but also a matter of what we consider as “good design”. By creating such innovative products and things, we also reach new aesthetics and haptics which have never been seen before in fashion, footwear and accessories”.
Taking inspiration from 90s graffiti, street-art, board-sport culture, tech and the 80s, nat-2™ was able to create an international and sustainable brand using the most unthinkable materials.
Over the years the company, in collaboration with several designers, has specialised in creating unconventional sneakers using materials such as blood, milk, fish leather, natural felt, recycled leather, stone, wood, corn, cork, glass, fungus, coffee, grass, flowers, natural rubber…
In 2019, in collaboration with designer Shahar Livne, nat-2™ launched a pair of sneakers with alternative bio-leather inserts made from slaughterhouse waste (bones, fat and blood of animals). The intent was to raise awareness for urgent “ international matters such as sustainability in different animal-based industries by using nature-given resources and upcycling leftovers from those industries. But also making a point for more tolerance, open-minded thinking by raising fascination, curiosity, highlighting the wasteful and disrespectful treatment of animals and natural resources.”
In the same year and with the intent to connect consumers to the animal-based industries, nat-2™, in collaboration with QMilk, launched a line of sneakers made from discarded milk. The casein fibres were mixed with wool to create a felt like-material soft and silky to the touch. The shoes also featured a real cork insole, rubber outsole and vegetable tanned lining.
The brand is also popular amongst eco-conscious vegan consumers. In fact, a majority of conventional vegan shoes are made from plastic-based leather alternatives which means they are not wholly sustainable. nat-2™ was able to develop several pairs of 100% vegan sneakers made from natural and ecological materials.
In 2016 they presented a sneaker made from real sustainable wood. The company developed a process which allowed them to apply the wood to an organic cotton and cover up to 90% of the shoe’s surface (depending on the style).
In 2017 nat-2™, in collaboration with designer Nina Fabert, launched a line of sneakers made of fungus leather. The shoes were made in combination with innovative materials such as eco-cotton, microfiber suede from PET bottles, real cork insole and rubber outsole.
In 2018 nat-2™ launched the coffee line: the vegan sneakers “made from real sustainable recycled coffee, coffee beans and coffee plant, which covers up to 50% of the shoe’s surface, depending on each style.”
One of the latest collections launched by the brand is a collaboration with designer Daniel Elkayam. Together they created a sustainable luxury sneaker made from algae biomaterial, a vegan leather alternative. “The algae upper which makes up to 50 % of the surface is accompanied by reflective glass and recycled pre-consumer PET bottles. The signature nat-2™ bioceramic lining is German made and features real silver threads and ceramic fibres which are antibiotic, antistatic and work like an air condition. The insoles are made from real recycled cork and the outsoles are handmade in France by 99,9 % natural milk rubber.The Algae sneakers attempt to generate a perceptual change in the way that we act with our nature, by using bio sheets that made of dead algae picked from nature, and give them a new life cycle as a daily fashion item.”
The number of collections created by this company using innovative and alternative designs are impressive! However, the brand doesn’t focus solely on sustainable designs and innovations. All sneakers are handmade in a small family-run business in Italy, while the packaging, flyers and descriptions are made from recycled and FSC certified paper. The company also focuses on the UN sustainable development goals.
“nat-2™ as a brand and project aims to create awareness in consumers’ and the industry’s minds that there are fantastic alternative materials, techniques and ways of thinking, especially in the luxury sector where established materials such as fur, leather or synthetic fibers, a flood of advertising are still considered as the real luxury and way to success. It takes endless creativity and common sense in the future to keep our planet running and to create a life-worthy environment for our children and grand-children.”
Learn more here: nat-2™
All images courtesy of nat-2™ .