Fashion Update: Recycling feat

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Indy Lifestyle Online
USED disposable nappies, old milk cartons, bottles and polystyrene cups are the main components in the latest state-of-the-art 100 per cent recycled footwear from the United States. The concept and design is the work of the Oregon recycling fanatic Julie Lewis, who was first inspired by the tyre-soled sandals she wore in the Sixties.

After many years spent browsing at her local landfill site, she was frustrated by the waste but excited by the possibilities. 'I began calling textile mills in the South to find out what kinds of plastics they used in certain fabrics, and if they could use recycled materials in the production process,' she explains. No one was interested. Rubbish, they said.

Undeterred, along with Bill Bowerman, one of the founders of Nike Inc, and retired coach of the University of Oregon track team, she built a prototype shoe.

Eventually Ms Lewis found a sympathetic fabric distributor and a mill, which slowly developed the idea. She then continued searching for her raw materials. Reclaimed foam rubber, coffee filters, paper bags, wet suits, gaskets and scrap metal joined the growing heap of recyclables. The shoe was born.

When ecology has entered the fashion vocabulary in the past, the result has often been earthy, wholesome and deeply dull. The Deja Shoe (as the company is now named) is proving to be seriously chic.

In the increasingly eco-obsessed US, Deja Shoes are walking out of shops across the country, all the way to the slick New York store Bloomingdale's. At the Natural Shoe Store in Covent Garden, first deliveries are due to arrive in the next two weeks.

Four styles will be available, from pounds 45 to pounds 60. The shoes are sold in recycled paper boxes that also have an afterlife: turned inside out they become gift boxes. And, when the boots are eventually worn out, you can send them back to Oregon, where they will be recycled.