Circle Sportswear Adds €4M, Readies Recycled Running Shoes

Circle Sportswear

Circle is cashing in on sustainability.

What’s happening: French startup Circle Sportswear raised €4M for its sustainable run and yoga range, adding to last year’s €2.5M. The new capital will fuel the launch of Circle’s first recyclable running shoe, a debut flagship store in Paris and a repair-and-recycle scheme.

Building an eco-conscious consumer base since conception in 2019, Circle will scale from 50 to 250 points of sale in the next 18 months. Meanwhile, its footwear foray, SuperNatural Runner, notched thousands of pre-orders for 2024 delivery.

Shrinking footprints. Circle limits sourcing and production to Europe. And with shoes touting biodegradable uppers and soles from castor beans and natural rubber, it cuts carbon emissions by 75%.

Planet x Performance

While almost half of consumers fill their wardrobe with athleisure brands, a rapidly growing contingent want ethically sourced sustainability. For a conscious consumer, greenwashing is out and transparency is in – with 67% of Europeans weighing a company’s use of sustainable materials when making a purchase.

Ahead of the pack, On Running debuted a recyclable sneaker subscription last year, riding its eco-friendly ethos to public market success. Joining the fray, a new era of footwear and apparel brands are all-in on sustainability.

  • UK-based Hylo uses renewable materials and is 100% vegan and recyclable.
  • Paris rival VEJA promotes fair trade, and trainer fabric comes from recycled plastic bottles and polyester.
  • Dutch brand Zen Running Club champions sustainable plant-based shoes.
  • Norway-based NNormal minimises design to trim footprint and lengthen lifecycle.

Further afield, Canada’s norda touts durability with extra-strong bio-based fabrics, Australia’s un-sanctioned leverages upcycling and plastic bottles for its running kits and the US’s R.A.D favours bio-ethanol from sugarcane for its soles.

Takeaway: Considered a piece of the well-being puzzle, consumer desire for sustainability will grow even more strongly with 2030 climate change targets off-schedule. But with the global sustainable athleisure market set to grow from $17B in 2020 to $53B by 2030, blinkered businesses only looking at the bottom line risk dropping pace as well as dollars.

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