#ModicInterview: “AVRIO FOOTWEAR, changemakers of today for a better tomorrow”
We recently discovered this new amazing footwear brand that we believe you’ll absolutely LOVE, not only for their products but also for the process of creating sustainable fashion. We’ll introduce you to John B. Matthews, chief executive officer of AVRIO. He will give us more details about the brand and how it makes the world a better place.
1.What is AVRIO FOOTWEAR? When did this journey begin and where did it all start?
AVRIO Footwear is a Brand with a mission to change the future. Wow – that sounds like a huge goal for a new brand, so we’ll break it down a bit later.
AVRIO is built upon the 3 pillars of our logo; Collaboration, Eco-Innovation and Transparency, all of which are rest upon a solid base of Education. AVRIO is working with brands across the fashion spectrum to help bring the global Changemakers into the open forum. We also work with college students who have been inspired by movements in the fashion industry and have a strong desire to impact the future of our planet in a positive and productive way. My grandfather once told me “Nothing of value can be built without education”.
As for the journey, after spending several years in the footwear industry and traveling throughout Asia, I witnessed first-hand the waste and abuse of our natural resources that occurred for the sake of fashion. While some companies and even some countries were trying to make changes, they were slow to be adopted and even slower to be legislated. This is where AVRIO stepped in. It’s true there are brands out there that are diligently working to improve, but most of them appear to give up shortly after they started.
2.What is AVRIO’s vision of the future of fashion? What about the future of the brand?
AVRIO has found its voice in the marketplace. Almost every brand is promoting a platform of sustainability, but few have taken the time to define what it means to them or their customers.
Sustainability is not a destination, it’s an on-going quest to continually improve, to make decisions that positively impact the process, the product, the environment and the quality of life for people around the globe. Sustainability is an overused word these days, and it doesn’t mean a brand is operating ethically, nor does it equal transparency, which is another important component for a brand promoting sustainability. Transparency is about showing your weaknesses as well as your strengths. This openly tells the community you’re aware of the issues and provides the opportunity for the brand to clearly show their commitment to continual improvement. Full transparency promotes ownership and trust throughout the company and community.
3.What is like to be part of the AVRIO team and be one of the changemakers?
AVRIO is a team that shares a passion for improvement and a concern for our future. Think for a moment… if traveling in time would be possible and a person could return to the past, most people believe they could alter the timeline if they made any impact during their visit. If you believe this, then it’s also true that if you change your actions today, you will have an impact on our future. Changemakers know they can improve the future and AVRIO wants to help them get the word out by supporting them, collaborating with them and improving upon the ideas. It’s a shared mission on a global scale and it feels right.
4.Tell us a little bit about the process of creating AVRIO Footwear. How does it help saving our future?
Some people have said AVRIO is a science lab on a global scale, because we seek out innovators and help them test their ideas during the sample production process. Others have said we’re a catalyst for forming relationships in the industry because we constantly introduce people so they may collaborate on projects that can improve our future. One brand CEO once told me his company had the best eco-product in his space, but only a fraction of population is aware they exist which is why AVRIO constantly gives “shout-outs” to the global Changemakers. For example, owning the best process for saving water, energy or labor may be great for an individual brand, but what if that technology would be shared among all brands? What if every brand could clean 250 liters of water with every pair of shoes made? Imagine cleaning 250 billion liters of water just by sharing the technology, now that’s a global impact.
5. How hard is it nowadays to find key suppliers to work with in the sustainable fashion field?
Finding suppliers is relatively easy, proving their concept or product through data-driven analysis is another path to conquer. Take BLOOM foam for example, their process removes CO2 from the air, removes algae from the water and repurposes it into an EVA foam suitable for any product using that type of foam. They lead with their proof and their data is authenticated by a third party. AVRIO seeks out partners like Bloom who are honest and clear from the beginning, which keeps everyone on point and focused on the mission.
6. What happens when AVRIO shoes get old and you need a new pair? Is there an option to recycle your products?
Closing the Loop is another catch phrase that’s being tossed around the marketplace. We constructed the shoe with destruction in mind, meaning we made it to be taken apart when it was worn to the point beyond salvation. The AVRIO shoe is built to be recycled.
Our goal is to establish a return policy where the AVRIO owner can send us their old AVRIO shoes for credit toward a new pair. The old shoes will need to be certified they are capable of being recycled and by that I mean they need to be clean and free of any harmful contaminants that may affect the new batch of material.
For the AV1, we can separate the bottom of the shoe, grind it up for use in the next midsole. The threads are made from reclaimed ocean plastic, which can be melted down and turned into new thread. The leather is made from tiny leather scraps, which were ground up to a powder and re-sheeted to create the AVRIO logo. These pieces can be ground up again for future use.
So in the end, when the AV1’s are done, they can be returned, recycled and walk again in the next generation of AVRIO footwear.
7. In terms of health and safety, how controlled are the materials you use in your products? Are there risks of triggering allergies due to the recycled plastics or other materials?
None of the materials used in the construction of an AVRIO shoe pose any risk to the health and safety of owner. Allergies generally occur during the plastic fabrication process and are rarely due to the end consumer product itself.
8.What is one thing that every brand could change in order to help saving our planet?
Collaboration! Can you imagine what the world would be like if all brands collaborated and shared technologies that would help improve our planet? AVRIO wants to be the meeting place or catalyst for those brands. We want to work together to change our future, because Together, We can Make Tomorrow Beautiful.
9. What should we expect next from AVRIO FOOTWEAR? Any new ideas? Future projects?
AVRIO is all about new ideas, pushing the eco-envelope and helping other brands achieve their goals for improvement. At AVRIO, we have our next generation shoe in wear-test production, and we have a sandal just completing the design phase. We’re also in the process of creating a line of AVRIO shirts made from recycled plastic, which will be printed with algae ink from Living Ink (www.livingink.co)
We’ve worked with Colleges and Universities in the past, but this semester we’re working with the professors at LIM College in NYC (www.LIMcollege.edu) to create a student engagement platform with AVRIO. We envision an interactive, inclusive program where the students essentially join our team to help identify solutions to some of the challenges many brands face. This coursework has proven to heighten the excitement for eco-conscious students as well as provide them with real-world experience. As I said earlier, education is the foundation of the AVRIO pillars!
In the end, it’s REALLY IMPORTANT that people realize we are not the true Changemakers, the person who owns a pair of AVRIO’s is the one making the impact. They are the one responsible for removing CO2 from the air, filtering algae out of the water and retuning clean, clear oxygenated water back into the environment. They have taken plastic from the ocean, repurposed it for a cause, with the opportunity to be recycled and walk again in their next pair of AVRIO shoes. The AVRIO owner is the HERO, their choice to engage this brand makes the difference in our future. They understand what they buy defines them. As for the AVRIO Team, we simply showed them a path to walk upon for a Beautiful Tomorrow.
An interview by Elena Pop