Looking for sneakers you can wear in summer without sweating, and are warm enough for winter? MIRET is the solution to all your shoe needs!
By Chere Di Boscio
Most sneakers can’t claim to be made from natural materials. They’re usually based on plastic and plastic by-products. But not so with MIRET.
This Croatian brand is proud that they’re shoes are 97% natural. And by that, they mean their shoes are made from hemp, wool and pure rubber. The other 3%? Well, that’s just synthetic thread and glue to ensure durability.
The hemp lining and cork insoles both have very low CO2 emissions. The outsoles are made from natural rubber resulting in a wonderful scent, while ensuring flexibility and good grip.
We love that Miret is stylish, unisex, and nearly 100% natural. But we also love MIRET sneakers are perfect for winter, summer and any occasion.
A Shoe For All Seasons
You see, founders Domagoj and Hrovje Boljar are a pair of talented brothers. Hrvoje drives the design and ecological development, while Domagoj drives the business. They know that sneakers can get stinky in summer, and freezing in winter. So they designed a shoe that’s perfect for both seasons!
The wool upper keeps your feet as warm as a sweater in winter. But the hemp lining – and the breathability of wool – keep your feet sweat-free in summer. Genius, right?
Here below, I interviewed the founders of MIRET about family, forests and footwear.
Meet MIRET: Sneakers For Winter & Beyond
Running a fashion brand isn’t easy. How did you get started?
We have inherited the family footwear business. Through a series of events, we ended up collaborating with various luxury brands which, more than anything, made us privy to the processes of materials purchasing and actual manufacturing.
Being insiders, we had front row seats to all the workings of the industry. This made us aware of what the entire life cycle of the product was like.
Hrvoje soon realized just how toxic this entire system is to humans and the environment, and decided to leverage this knowledge.
He used his skills to change the industry, increase consumer awareness and, above all, to offer an alternative solution.
What’s it like working with family members?
Although we are different, working together is great, since we are both experts in our fields, and most importantly, our values and vision of MIRET are the same.
Hrvoje is engaged in product development, product modeling and organization of production, while Domagoj is in charge of business development. That means management, administration, financing, and more.
Although each of us has his own role and area within MIRET, a startup is always a dynamic environment in which you often go beyond your own framework and “jump in” and solve challenges together.
There are lots of eco-friendly sneakers on the market now. What makes Miret different?
Sure, there are a lot of eco-friendly products on the market. But there are also different approaches to this matter.
There are pros and cons to each of these. What’s fantastic is the diversity in sustainability approaches of different brands as this creates a lot of space for various innovations.
This diversification is eliminating a scenario where all the brands start using the same raw material where this huge demand would lead to growing big quantities of monocultures.
This is also one of the reasons why MIRET is focusing on plant diversification, and is using wool as well as different plants.
What sets us apart is making sneakers for winter, summer – any weather, really. And also, having ecology as our core value and having that reflected in the product. We produce 97% natural sneakers. This is the direct result of our brand values. With MIRET, what you see is exactly what you get.
So, for us, the ultimate product is inherently circular. And this is the ultimate goal of MIRET. A sustainably grown and produced, bio-based, toxic-free, carbon-positive product.
How did you choose the materials you use?
We choose our materials based on their features and benefits. We wanted to make sneakers for winter and beyond. All the materials we use are durable, easy to maintain, and have amazing characteristics.
For example, we chose wool as our main material as it is water repellent and has great thermoregulation.
Using 100% natural rubber for outsoles allows flexibility and a lightweight outsole, which has great grip and even greater durability. Cork is used for insole structure is antibacterial and odour resistant.
Every material is well thought out.
What’s the typical Miret customer like?
The typical MIRET customers are overall ecologically conscious individuals who actively buy online, and choose sustainable alternatives. Our target market primarily focuses on customers with a high level of ecological awareness.
How did Covid lockdowns affect your business?
Just before the first lockdown in 2020, we launched our Kickstarter campaign. Even though this was a very inconvenient occurrence, we take great pride that we managed to successfully produce and deliver our orders to our backers on time, during the first wave of the Covid 19 pandemic.
We were funded in just 2 hours and raised 68K USD. In the autumn, we launched our new collection Forest Dark. Overall we can say it was a successful year for us, despite the pandemic!
Do you think footwear is even more polluting than clothing?
We don’t have enough knowledge about the clothing industry to say that. But what we know is that the footwear industry is far from sustainable and it will take many years to push it in the right direction.
Everybody is talking about being sustainable but the levels of sustainability are very low. The only way out that we see is to improve the legislation and make it more rigorous. But this will not happen for years to come because it would collapse the industry.
What is happening now is that the responsibility for the product is transferred to the final consumer. But consumers are also confused about what’s truly sustainable, due to the lack of regulation and ever-increasing greenwashing practices.
In 2019, more than 24 billion pairs of shoes were produced. And out of all the shoes purchased within the year, 95% will end up in landfills.
We believe the consumer should not bear all responsibility for this. From materials sourcing and their treatment, to production and logistics, and then finally the disposal of the shoe – every stage of the life-cycle can and should be optimised by the brands to preserve the environment.
Would you consider making a fully vegan sneaker?
We had a fully vegan model, with an upper made from hemp. Currently, our primary material is wool, because of its great thermoregulation, durability, and other amazing features which allow more comfort, and one of the most important features for us – the longer life cycle of the product.
Sheep that provide the wool for our sneakers live under strict animal welfare rules and are not harmed in any way. Our suppliers are rigorously evaluated before entering into a contract.
As long as there are ethical wool suppliers out there, we will continue using wool as our main material. Especially since it makes our sneakers warm enough to wear in winter! But we don’t reject the idea of bringing back a vegan version in the future.
On your website, you have images of the most stunning forest I’ve ever seen. I believe it’s near Ogulin? Are you doing anything to conserve that forest?
Yes, the Forest Dark II campaign was filmed in the beautiful dense forests of beech, fir, and juniper near Ogulin. Every MIRET campaign is a celebration of nature, and we use our brand voice and media space to raise awareness about the importance of preserving those unique landscapes.
The preservation of nature is one of the main reasons why we aim to produce a fully circular product and why the core value of MIRET is ecology.
What are you proudest about with regards to your shoes?
MIRET sneakers are not completely natural, or “perfectly” sustainable. But we are completely transparent in our business and have a strong community of backers who really believe in us and our story.
MIRET is not just a product; it’s a vehicle for change. Our goal is to serve as an example for the whole industry. We are proud to say that in every aspect of the design of our sneakers, ecology comes first. But that doesn’t mean our sneakers are not well-designed, durable, and comfortable. And of course, these sneakers are warm enough for winter, too!
So, how do you think the brand could be more sustainable in the future?
There are still 3% synthetic materials (threads and glue) in MIRET sneakers. We want to replace those with bio-based materials in the future.
We still haven’t found an alternative that is good enough to have the same durability, but we’re hoping that one day will have a completely bio-based, biodegradable, and compostable shoe.