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Working with Circle Sportswear and the Woolmark Company – Part II


t Südwolle Group, we’ve always been at the forefront of championing innovation, particularly when it comes to the thoughtful use of our yarn. We recently had the privilege of supplying our quality wool yarn for a groundbreaking project – the Supernatural Runner – spearheaded by our partners at Circle Sportswear. Now, let’s hear from them about the unique challenges and triumphs in their journey of creating a sustainable running shoe, crafted entirely in Europe.

The Challenge of Localising Production

Embarking on the production of the Supernatural Runner, one of our most significant challenges was the commitment to manufacture the entire shoe, and all its components, within Europe. This endeavour meant establishing totally new links between suppliers who had never collaborated before.

The task was akin to fitting together pieces of a complex jigsaw puzzle. The benefit of creating this novel network of suppliers for an innovative project has been that they have collaborated with each other in a much closer and focussed manner, making the project more of a community-driven initiative, enriching the overall trade experience within Europe.

Redefining Shoe Assembly

Another ambitious challenge we faced in the Supernatural Runner’s journey was redefining the traditional shoe assembly. We have strived to minimize the use of glue, a paradigm shift in shoe manufacturing. Wherever there is a ‘permanent’ connection of parts we innovated to ensure these parts, and therefore the shoe could be easily disassembled at its end of life.

In facilitating simpler material separation compared to conventional running shoes we allow for different types of materials to be better managed when they become waste, and allow us to use more biological materials, that are able to be biodegraded at the end of life, without becoming contaminated with synthetics. This detailed focus underlined our commitment to promote recyclability and sustainability within material use.

Embracing Complexity

We’ve harnessed high-tech production processes to craft the main components of the Supernatural Runner which is allowing us to reach the performance we need, with the lower impact materials we’re using. This also came with its challenges. While these procedures would be less complicated with synthetic materials, the processes are able to utilise high performance, bio based materials, so we had to use them.

This was especially true for the production of the shoe’s upper and midsole. Some special processes not widely available in Europe are allowing these components to deliver optimal performance in the final shoe.

The Determination to Innovate

Despite the hurdles we’ve encountered, we remain undeterred. If anything, these challenges have fortified our determination to push the boundaries of sustainable footwear and are making our product unique. We see these not as obstacles, but as stepping stones that will lead us to greater heights in our mission to lower the environmental impact of performance running shoes.

As we continue to innovate with our Supernatural Runner, we’re excited about the road ahead and the many triumphs that await us: At Circle Sportswear we really believe that challenges are just opportunities in disguise!

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Suedwolle Group GmbH
Wieseneckstr. 26
90571 Schwaig
Metropolitan Area Nuremberg

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