Words by Richard Rusling | Photography by Jens Schmidt & Michal Rzepecki
Special project: Zen Run Zero One
One of the highlights of running for me is the connection it gives me to nature – it’s about changing my surroundings, getting lost in music and letting the stresses of everyday life disappear.
When we started the project originally titled Zen Run Zero One, we began with a challenge rather a brief – what if the products we wore to go out and explore the outdoors weren’t also implicit in destroying it?
Some products were available, but they were usually a compromise around performance, comfort or style – and almost always around price.
We started with a blank page, and wondered what a world without compromise would look like – we came up with a few fundamental aspects of what this shoe represents:
Prioritising plant based solutions.
Performance is a given, not an option.
Comfortable and good looking – so good that people won’t want to take them off.
The positioning of this shoe is a go-to, everyday running shoe – we all have that pair that we refuse to change, so comfortable that we wear them as much as we can, and we fit them to our style even when we’re not running. Functional, lightweight and made from plants… and we no longer have to look like an off-duty sports coach when we go for a coffee with our friends afterwards.
Once we put the idea of creating this unicorn out into the universe, we started to meet amazing people that wanted to be part of a project such as ours – big hitters from the world of sports, fashion, manufacturing and business who wanted to join us on this amazing journey.
The first shoes were interesting. We discovered materials that didn’t respond the same way as those that we were used to working with. But once we started to play around with formulas, compounds and how the shoe was made, we soon saw smiles on our testers’ faces.
We also had to play with fit, durability and the weight of the shoe. We have tightened up the fit in the right places – keeping our favoured combination of form-fitted heel with more room in the forefoot. We also lost about 25% of the weight from the original protos. The union of rocker sole design and knitted upper provides a sock-like fit, with a soft, easy-flowing ride that is better experienced than described.
Where we’ve ended up has truly amazed us. A shoe that some people have told us is so comfortable they they only take them off to go to bed. A shoe that pushes you further on everyday runs. A shoe that looks so good you want to style your whole look around them. A vegan and plant-based unicorn that makes people smile knowing they are contributing to a little bit of difference.
We can’t wait to hear what you think when you take them out for the first time, and look forward to welcoming you to our club.