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Kanye just unveiled a new foam sneaker made from algae

Onstage at the Fast Company Innovation Festival, West showed off a new style of shoe that is emblematic of his fashion brand’s moves toward sustainability and manufacturing in the U.S.

Kanye just unveiled a new foam sneaker made from algae
Kanye West and Steven Smith [Photo: Celine Grouard for Fast Company]
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Kanye’s latest Yeezy sneaker is made in part from algae as part of the brand’s move toward sustainability. Onstage at the Fast Company Innovation Festival today, West held up a pair of the new shoes and explained how the company is transforming, including making its products in the U.S. and moving its headquarters to a 4,000-acre ranch in Wyoming, where it will have its own hydroponic farm

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[Photo: Daisy Korpics for Fast Company]
“We’re going to be farming and going seed to sole,” West told the audience. The brand wanted to have its own farm so that it “could see every element,” he says. That includes the materials used for the shoes: By making foam from algae, the company can help clean waterways to protect wildlife and drinking water, and it can avoid using the fossil fuels typically used to make foam. West says the company is also exploring alternatives to harmful dyes. The shoes themselves were made in Atlanta.

[Photo: Celine Grouard for Fast Company]
“Eco-concerns are intersecting with what we do,” Steven Smith, the head designer at Yeezy, told the audience. “This is just the beginning of the future that Kanye envisioned for us to start working on.”

About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley, and contributed to the second edition of the bestselling book "Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century."

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