Article: MoEa / The birth of plant-based sneakers
MoEa / The birth of plant-based sneakers
The quest for a stylish sneaker that respects animals and the environment.
MoEa - which stands for Mother Earth - prides itself on making trendy plant-based sneakers out of fruit and biomaterials. The vegan brand was cofounded in 2021 by Achille Gazagnes and Benoit Habfast. Best friends, business partners, environmental enthusiasts these two have worked together since their early twenties.
HOW DID YOU BOTH MEET EACH OTHER?
"We met each other when we were students. I (Achille) grew up in Clermont-Ferrand and I moved to Paris for my university studies. We met when we were in classe préparatoire, preparing for business school. We’ve known each other for 11 years now."
HOW WAS THE IDEA OF MOEA BORN?
"The idea for MoEa’s plant-based sneakers emerged from a meeting with FRUMAT®, at the Première Vision professional fair. I met an Italian engineer, named Hans, who had come to present his company. He had created a leather-like fabric made of apples, which led me to think about the animal leather that we used for a previous brand. During this meeting I discovered the existence of biomaterials.
This then led me to look for other materials like pineapple fabrics by PINATEX®, and then I discovered the existence of corn fabrics by VIRIDIS®. In fact, by doing some research I discovered that there were lots of laboratories dedicated to creating materials to replace animal leather with plant-based materials. They’re often built off organic waste from the food industry, like a sort of recovery of unwanted materials, which I found very interesting. And so, we wanted to create a brand that would be the other side of the coin of these laboratories."
MOEA IN 3 WORDS?
- Achille :
“SNEAKERS, VEGAN, AWESOME”
- Benoit :
“TRANSPARENCY, INNOVATION, SPORTSWEAR”
WHAT MAKES MOEA DIFFERENT FROM OTHER SNEAKER BRANDS?
"More than 90% of brands on the sneaker market use animal leather. In our sneakers there's the vegan plant-based materials. So, all the fabrics that we use with glues, reinforcements, prints etc. are not of animal origin. Our plant-based sneakers do not harm animals."
2. Made in Europe.
"95% of sneakers are made in Southeast Asia. We make them in Portugal with materials that come mainly from Europe, such as Italy and Spain. It is an EU-centralised production process which is uncommon on the sneaker market."
"We measure the environmental impacts, we try to eco-design each trainer and build future sneakers that will have a smaller carbon footprint than the previous ones.
- That's in the DNA of the brand: producing low-carbon sneakers.
We consider that our plant-based sneakers are V1s and that we must move towards V2s that would be characterized by a reduced carbon footprint, a better, more resistant material and will continue to innovate and use our existing technique to reduce our impact."
DID YOU ENCOUNTER ANY DIFFICULTIES WHEN SETTING UP THE BRAND?
"We didn't really encounter any major difficulties. By that we mean that we think we have encountered the kind of difficulties that any company has to deal with. In fact, what we noticed was that it was quite easy to use these materials. There was a real prototyping and production phase that lasted two years that we didn’t find complicated in itself, it was what we expected because they were new materials, so we had to test them out.
Then it was also necessary for the manufacturing partners in Portugal to understand how to use the plant-based materials because they were used to using and manufacturing animal leather. These are materials that require a completely different manufacturing process, so it took two years. It may seem like a long time, we didn't find it difficult, we found it normal and we even managed to master the first biomaterial in just two years.
Then there were all the difficulties of a different kind which any entrepreneur might encounter: communication, financial stress, the usual things, whether you make plant-based sneakers or not."
WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE ASPIRATIONS FOR MOEA?
"In the short term it is to find new materials. Speaking of which we have the Mushroom that is going to come out soon, we have the Banana fiber that we are working on to launch our first textile sneaker. This fiber is very interesting because it comes from agriculture waste in the Philippines. Above all the fabric made is 100% of this fiber without any plastic.
Another big project that I think is super interesting is the end of life of our sneakers to minimize waste as much as possible and to give a second utility to uppers and soles. In fact, our next projects for MoEa are to develop products from materials that emit less and less carbon than those we currently use. The future really is products with a lower carbon impact."
DO YOU HAVE A FUNNY ANECDOTE TO TELL US ABOUT MOEA?
"Let’s just say I have a name that is quite unusual: “Achille” and throughout my childhood I was asked the same question time and time again. When I introduced myself, it was always, “Achille like the heel”. It’s a joke the first time but after the 10 000th time it becomes repetitive. Well, I now get exactly the same thing with MoEa. As soon as I present the brand there are lots of people who come to me and say, "So can we eat it?" -thinking they’re the first to make the joke. So, I feel the same thing, it's a joke on repeat but this time it’s good humoured so I’m used to it and once and for all NO it can't be eaten!"
Time to discover our plant-based sneakers.