Since moving to a work-from-home situation, I haven’t gotten “dressed up” a single day. Instead, I’ve been wearing shorts and tank tops, sundresses, and jeans on the occasionally chilly day. I’ve also been running a lot, so in order to both give my shoes time to air out and give my sock tan-line time to fade, I’ve been kickin’ it in casual shoes that are as comfortable as running shoes, and cool enough to wear in the summer sun.
I hereby present to you the most airy, comfortable, kick-around shoe – and the company is in Tualatin, Oregon! The name “Rackle” comes from an old English word meaning, “to shake up and move.” Rackle Shoes are not just awesome to wear (at just 6 oz) – they’ve got an impressive sustainability resume as well. The uppers and laces are made from hemp, and the midsoles and soles are made from EcoPure®, which has been tested and proven to break down 30-50 times faster than your average shoe foam clogging up landfills.
Rackle has offices right here in Tualatin, they have an office in Massachusetts, and some team members work from Eugene — all centers of shoe innovation. If you want to be where people know shoes, you start in Oregon.
Rackle shoes come in both men’s and women’s; there are three colors for each: Blue Nights, Redwood, and Natural. Each comes with two pairs of laces, so you can match the color of the shoe or wear a contrasting color. Shown here are the women’s:
I have worn my Rackle shoes both with and without socks. The foam insole can be wiped down with a washcloth, which is good news if you like to go barefoot. The shoes are nice and roomy both width-wise and height-wise, so your toes will have lots of room to wiggle whether or not you’re wearing socks.
I went with the Blue Nights, because it pretty much goes with anything. For the winter I’d like the Natural color because I seem to have an addiction to natural-wool color sweaters, but I think you’ll be happy with any color that speaks to you.
Their process started with a desire to create sustainable shoes – hemp turned out to be the best option. Rackle creative head Joe Napurano says, “The idea of Rackle grew out of an interest in state-of-the-art sustainability and comfort in shoes. We considered many of the usual suspects like cotton, vegan leather, recycled PET, reground rubber, cork footbeds, rice husk, and natural latex, as well as the more innovative algae, sugarcane, and bamboo materials. The process lead us to our recipe of Hemp uppers and EcoPure™ foam bottoms. Hemp is tough, soft and highly sustainable. EcoPure™ addresses biodegradation in a way that is all new in footwear.”
Making sustainability the company’s core principal had to mesh with what people want. “I have been involved in product innovation, design and businesses that manufacture using recycled materials in Oregon for a long time,” says Jerry Wiant, Rackle Brand Manager. He explains that “consumers deserve product that delivers great performance … the proof is in the wearing. Rackle shoes are really light, really comfortable, with a little bit of fun.” I personally think their timing couldn’t have been better. Even when people are going back into the office for work, I think we’ll all value comfort a bit more, and casual shoes like these will replace dress shoes in many a workplace. We’ve all also seen how our planet has recovered since February from the impact of humans, so there’s more awareness around the need for more eco-friendly products.
The shoe’s design, prototypes, testing, and production all took about 18 months, with a lot of hard work by a team created of people like Wiant and folks with backgrounds in shoe design. The team started from scratch – “Every part of the Rackle shoe has been reconsidered … the shape of the shoe, the multi-density footbed, the laces, the Plexus Arch support geometry, the assembly and the packaging are all aimed at sustainability and comfort, says Napurano. “Rackle could only happen today.”
Looking to tomorrow, Rackle is committed to creating new colors, and in coming seasons, sandals. Maybe more importantly, says Napurano, is their plan “to keep creating modern shoes that won’t litter the world for the next thousand years.”