Last month we kinda roused on END Footwear for making their stripped down eco-focused trail running footwear, and not telling anyone about it. With the launch of their new website last week they've cleared that obstacle on the path.
Although Flash-based (boo hiss), the site does contain a bunch more info on their footwear, with its 'bamboo infused' linings, recycled polyester webbings and laces, recycled EVA and rubber sole combos and suchlike. You have to dig around a bit, but you'll learn that by using the one mould across nine styles END reckon they've save 20 tons of steel (or 11 SUVs worth) from the manufacturing process. That's because the moulds and die cutters for an average size run of of one model of shoes can use up to 5,000 lbs of steel. Elsewhere they've reduced the material content, either in the shoes themselves, or in production include crafting a midsole from 3 pieces instead of the usual dozen. END co-mould their protection plate (the internal sheet the stops you feeling stones pound against the underside of your feet) with the EVA midsole. Apparently the two materials form a molecular bond negating the need for another resource intensive production mould.
You can see a mini video explaining this in the social networking page of the new END site. Click the 'where to buy' link and find the five or so national online retailers they're shipping to. Early next year they expect to be available through more than 100 bricks and mortar stores. And already they are going international, with Japan leading the way in November.
Ben Finklea, one of the company's co-founders told us the the reason for the forementioned low key approach was that they saw Fall 08 as a bit if a "soft launch." Ben said "This way we can work the kinks out and find out if we have any major issues in production, supply chain, etc. So far, happy to report any problems that have popped up have been few and fixed and product is now flowing."
But look out for Spring 09, Ben says. It is going to be "three to four times bigger than Fall 08." Seems they've leveraged the minimal materials idea into road running and water-sports shoes as well, hence the name change from END Outdoor to END Footwear.
More END Footwear on TreeHugger
• END Footwear Hits the Trail Running. But Not That You'd Know.
• END Outdoor: Greener Footwear for the Long Run