Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Shoes and the Phoenix Economy

I've come across a really interesting company on the shoe front. END Footwear is a new company in Portland, Oregon, founded by a guy who left Nike because he just felt that there was no way they could overcome all the baggage they had - by which I mean the pointless complications and inefficiencies locked into their design and delivery framework. It seems he was underwhelmed by the idea that Nike's 'revolutionary' Considered Design programme would, at best, "reduce waste in the company by 17%, and increase the use of environmentally preferred materials by 20%" by 2020.

Far be it from me to criticise - from where Nike are, that's a considerable effort. And 17% of Nike's waste is a lot of savings. But in a world where we need seismic change (40% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020 is now a target some call too limited), this isn't enough.

Taking this into a wider context, I recently came across a fascinating paper on the Phoenix Economy, the essential hypothesis of which relates exactly to this phenomenon. In a world where incremental change is not enough, the argument seems to run that we must let some things fail - and trust that better solutions will rise from the ashes. The Obama administration is #1 in the Phoenix Fifty. Check it out.

What's great about END (who don't feature in the Phoenix 50, but perhaps will one day!) is that they're really good running shoes as well, which sets them apart from every other ethical shoemaker. Their newest line (pictured above) has just won 'Best Runner's Debut' from Runner's World magazine in the USA.

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