New Balance Announces A Sustainability Plan Featuring Jaden Smith

By: Jessie Brunett

Letting go of your running shoes is never easy. From walkers to runners, we all find it difficult to admit the inevitable time of departure from our favorite pair. The upper starts to fray, the rubber underneath starts to wear down, yet, you’ve molded the soul to fit your foot perfectly. It isn’t fair. What used to be the pair, turned on you and became a liability for your legs and feet. Like discarded CDs, your footwear finds its place in the trash or on the shelf at donation stores in anticipation of the new pair you’re going to have to break in.

The vicious shelf-life of footwear stops now. Jaden Smith officially calls for your attention in collaboration with New Balance. Promising to incorporate sustainability all over the world, New Balance’s collab. with Jaden Smith is only the prerequisite to what the shoe company is cooking up this year.

What does the shoe look like? If you’re familiar with Jaden Smith and his music, you’ll know that he exists in his own space, separate from reality. The dude’s even claimed that he collects trash to decorate his house. It’s up to you to decide if these new models emulate trash or treasure, but it’s the concept that counts.

The Vision Racer Reworked’s exterior looks like it should be featured on The Goofy Movie’s Power-line Crew, sporting a thick rubber bottom and stacked soul to give you the illusion you’re hovering above the ground, not walking on it. The whole shoe in the color gray paneling with speckled overlay highlighting the New Balance signature logo and looks like an alternate reality version of the 990. The shoe may not be for everyone, but, the collaboration comes with New Balance’s most recent announcement to be a 100% sustainable company by 2030.

The unveiling of New Balance’s plan spotlights an important problem resurfacing from textiles and manufacturers today: the carbon footprint. The waste produced from a single model is often discarded by the tons into landfills, sending carbon emissions skyrocketing into the atmosphere. It is no secret that Smith designed this shoe at the perfect time for the brand’s launchpad towards sustainability,

“Sustainability has always been a top priority for New Balance, we need to act with urgency, and our work is further strengthened by like-minded alliances that help extend our reach. Creating and sustaining a healthier planet requires a collective effort and we couldn’t be more excited for the work ahead with some truly incredible individuals and organizations by our side”, stated John Stokes on New Balance Press Box, New Balance’s Head Of Global Sustainability(New Balance Announces Range of Initiatives in Holistic Commitment to Sustainability; New Balance Press Box 2021).

While New Balance plans for the future with a slow progression approach, Smith is convinced that his collaboration with the brand will help foster a lens towards a younger generation quickly. Following his collaboration, Smith has pushed New Balance to become involved in helping with the filtration system in Flint, Michigan, and organize donations of food and shoes to the homeless population in Los Angeles. According to Complex Magazine, Smith is fully aware of how many toxic chemicals reside in his shoes, calling New Balance to fight for better practices in the shoe industry alongside him(Jaden Smith’s New Vision For New Balance; Complex; 2020).

One could argue that Jaden Smith is just like us, a proponent of wearing his favorite pair until they are depleted of their vibrance. It is the same reason why Smith created the Vision Racer Reworked the way he did--with risk. It’s not for everyone, the most die-hard New Balance fans may gawk at its uniqueness, it serves as an eyesore reminder that footwear never stops evolving.

The collaboration comes a day before New Balance dropped its 5 Pillar plan to become a 100% sustainable footwear company by 2030.

This wasn’t by accident. If you’re curious about New Balance’s most dramatic changes in manufacturing, check out The New Balance Press Box bulleted points below. The only changes that consumers will see first hand will be the new Green Leaf Icon next to select items made from organic or recycled material on, the new releases of recycled shoes such as Jaden Smith’s Vision Racer Reworked and The Hierro v6 which was released on April 15, all made from cutoff waste and recycled shoe features. The rest of New Balance’s actions will stay hidden behind the global consumer brand’s manufacturer’s hoping that one day our well-traveled training shoes won’t just become waste, but transform into something brand new.

The Vision Racer Reworked was released April 22, 2021 to celebrate Earth Day on the New Balance website, at a total price of $150.00. Even if you don’t purchase Smith’s futuristic shoes, it is a kind reminder that our well-loved training shoes have a monumental impact on our planet, on and off the road. 

Outlined below is the most recent plan from The New Balance’s Press Box: 

  • New Balance will use 100 percent renewable electricity across its global operations by 2025 and aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030 as a signatory of the UN Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action.
  • New Balance aims to send zero waste to landfills from its footwear factories by 2025, and the brand is launching an apparel repair pilot in 2021 as part of its work to address post-consumer waste and establish more significant levels of circularity.
  • Polyester and leather are the two largest drivers of climate impact for New Balance. As a first step toward lowering its impacts, the brand will source 50 percent recycled polyester, and 100 percent preferred leather by 2025.
  • In coordination with 1% for the Planet, through 2021, New Balance will donate 1 percent of the MSRP’s from its Fresh Foam Hierro v6 sold in the U.S. to the company.
  • New Balance is working toward 100 percent of women in its footwear factories to benefit from education and skills courses by 2025.
  • Through 2021, the company will work with the GIZ Energy Support Program (ESP) to improve energy efficiency in its supply chain and develop rooftop solar energy projects. New Balance was selected as a key partner to enroll its Vietnam footwear suppliers into the Small Energy Efficiency Group (SEEG) of ESP, providing energy training to factory employees to identify energy-saving measures. New Balance is also working with GIZ’s Project Development Programme to assess rooftop solar power across some of its suppliers and then develop projects to compete with conventional energy supplies.
  • Renewal Workshop
  • New Balance recently partnered with The Renewal Workshop to pilot an apparel repair program this summer and a training workshop to educate designers on designing future apparel for repairability and garment recycling. 

    More information at New Balance Press Box Here

    The collaboration with Jaden Smith and the new goals announced at the beginning of April will set the shoe conglomerate up to be a fully sustainable company by 2030.