SOLES WITH SOULRepurposed Tire Rubber SandalsBy Jennifer Juno

Repurposed Tire Rubber Sandals
By Jennifer Juno

Indosole is a lifestyle brand, which is based around resourceful thinking through footwear that features a repurposed motorbike tire sole, and natural organic uppers. Indosole primarily make sandals, as well as shoes, t-shirts and bags.

While on a surf trip to Bali, Indonesia during 2004, Californian native Kyle Parsons was affected by environmental issues surrounding the population. Inspired by an unusual pair of sandals discovered on the island Kyle creatively realized how to repurpose one of the major by-products of South East Asia’s motorbikes, and he used the discarded rubber from tires to create stylish, eco-friendly, hand crafted sandals that are now available in outlets across the world.

“I was looking to buy a unique pair of sandals and I found a pair with motorbike tire-tread soles and a natural grass weave on top”, recalls Kyle. “They were cool sandals, but really clunky and uncomfortable. I looked out the window and saw motorbikes buzzing by. The idea was born right there, to make a sandal inspired by what Balinese were already doing; but make it more comfortable and stylish.”

The more tires Indosole saves means a lower production of tire-derived fuel; less landfills; and more shoes: an altogether healthier way of living. To enhance every aspect of your life, Indosole uses only locally sourced and animal-free materials during its transformation of waste into fashionable and functional items. It is their dream to provide customers with footwear that not only eliminates waste, but also can enhance the environment while giving motorbike tires a new life.

“Repurposing is an art of transformation”, says Kyle. “We learned this from our commitment to the crafts-people across Asia. These wise and resourceful artisans taught us that waste could be re-imagined, and transformed into something purposeful. Through our strong relationship with them we have saved thousands of tires from overflowing into overcrowded landfills”.

With no formal training in shoe design, Kyle was a sales representative in the action sports industry for a while before his creative leap into being an entrepreneur. Since 2006, Kyle has made several trips from California to Bali to check in on how the production of his soft and flexi sandals is progressing.?
Kyle, tracked down the woman who had made the original sandals and refined his vision while working along side her in a tiny factory she ran out of her home. After years of design experimentation and business development, Indosole found a way to make light, comfortable and fashionable shoes while employing a Balinese distributor and using sustainable materials.

Indosole takes the tires directly from local landfills. They are washed, sanitized and cut to shoe size. Indosole claims to have saved over 25,000 tires from landfills since their launch in 2010. Each tire makes about two pairs of shoes.
Millions of old tires are left in landfills that can’t possibly sustain the load, and the country’s lack of both infrastructure and waste-disposal education has led to overcrowded landfills, polluted ravines, streets, and eventually ocean waters.

“We encourage you to join us on our quest to save 1 million waste tires from Indonesian landfills”, exclaims Kyle. “ Indosole offers the most organic, toxic-free and environmentally-sustainable production process. There is no melting down, off-gassing, or reforming of any material – just strong hands and minds”.

Repurposing – the lesser-employed cousin of recycling – is typically greener than recycling as it skips the reprocessing step. Repurposing motorbike rubber means that the rubber is not melted down, thus preventing gas by-products.
Indosole currently have four models of sandals, and none of them use any animal products. They all feature tire-tread soles with a variation on the uppers or the part of the sandal that your foot actually rests on. In addition to their popular tan burlap model, which repurposes coffee sacks from the farms on Bali, Indosole have a grass mat model, which uses tightly woven hand-picked grass from rice fields, and the banana leaf model, which features dried banana leaves that are wrapped in a spool and hand-woven together.
The full range of sandals can be purchased at local retailers such as Drifter Surf shop, and Deus, or online. All of the shoes are hand-made, using locally sourced materials and no animal products (the sandal straps use “vegan” suede). No fuel-powered machinery is used in the production, as shoes are 100% handcrafted.

The Indosole Burlap sandal is a quality product with a cool story. They are comfortable and form fitting and look good with both board shorts and jeans; plus, I love the idea that my shoes have experienced an entire life before I even took them out of the box. The look is great and construction is sound. All this coupled with a price that is on par with other sandals in its class.

The Tan Burlap sandal costs around $48.00 and they are built with the standard re-purposed tire tread soles which boast all the stress and wear that you might imagine on an Indonesian motorcycle tire. You can even see the full tire slice with the worn down treads and the original words and numbers are visible. Burlaps are durable, they hold fast in the rain and on wet pavement. The more the sandals are worn, the more the sole softens and morphed to the feet.??

When purchasing an Indosole product, rest assured your shoe tells a great story. It has experienced the back alleys and country roads of Indo and probably skidded to a stop as the rider was faced with the sight of a perfect wave or a beautiful sunset. Indosole has offices in San Francisco, and San Clemente, California. Distribution covers South East Asia, Australia, Europe, UK, South Korea, Japan, Canada and Indonesia. I spoke with Indosole to find out more.

What is Balifornia?
The Balifornia concept has been the ethos of our brand for the past five years and we hope that it will live forever. It represents our business with the crossover lifestyle that we live and promote between Bali and California.

Who is your distributor?
Kubu Desa is our distribution company. At first Kubu Desa only had one product and years later they expanded and have taken on more. When they met Indosole for the first time, Kubu Desa liked the safe-environment concept, turning re-used tires into a new fancy product. We develop our quality and the design every year.

Which product is the most popular?
The leader of the pack is the Tan Burlap vegan suede sandal. Its straps are fashioned from re-purposed burlap coffee bags, adding to the history offered by each unique pair. Everything about it oozes quality, cool, and casual surf style.

What is your biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge is that rubber wants to roll up and warp the sandals so we have spent years trying to figure out how to keep it flat, and not overtake the foam. It’s been almost like working with ice and chiseling away at it. We’ve experimented with a lot of different foam foot beds in order to make it work.

Tell me about the Indosole Batik
Batik is one of Indonesia’s most highly developed art forms and symbolizes the culture. Repurposed burlap coffee bags provide the fabric for some of the sandals, while others are made from traditional batik fabrics. The Batik fabric used in Indosole’s products is hand dyed with traditional wax-resist methods, which are free from toxic chemicals and fuel-powered machinery.

What is the Church of Surf?
We hold events at the Indosole shop, which used to be a Korean Church. We have regular film showings with surf movies like ‘Finding Main Street’ and ‘It Ain’t Pretty’, which is a film about the amazing women that surf Ocean Beach. Come join us at The Church of Surf, on 3830 Noriega Street, San Francisco, CA.

Do you sell apparel at Indosole?
We have recently started to produce apparel and accessories. We have chosen four batik patterns that match our footwear line and have created organic cotton leisure pants, shorts, and crop tanks. We also have a small bag collection including beach bags using recycled materials such as rice bags and canvas.

What is next for Indosole?
To continue to make quality footwear and continue the evolution of using tires as soles for our footwear. We seem to continuously make breakthroughs in the design and comfort of our footwear. Indosole also aims to contribute locally both in Bali and California to gain awareness on environmental issues and solutions; as well as helping in the educational youth sector. We also have a new lace-up shoe and some new high tops coming out soon: so stay tuned for those.

Indosole really is an amazing vision! As we look forward to buying more footwear from Indosole in the near future, we are also very excited to see the launch of their giveback programs – including helping with university scholarships for local youth; pick me-up Bali; and Project Clean Uluwatu: right here in Bali.
Copyright  2014 Bali Advertiser
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