Not even free donuts will deter most people hustling to catch a Subway. But set up a kiosk with some of the catchiest shoes on the market, and all of a sudden those rushing forgot they had a ride to catch in the first place. When creator of Civic Duty Shoes, Steven Weinreb set up a kisok in one of the highest traffic areas in the country, Grand Central Station, he realized the incredible potential for shoes he makes out of Tyvek. That’s the same stuff used for construction, packaging envelopes and even car covers. The shoes are an easy sell not just because of their catchy design, but because Tyvek can be recycled.
Available in several styles and colors, the sneakers have a crinkly paper-like look. “The shoes are incredibly durable. Even the strongest guys try to break a sweat when we tell them to go ahead and try to tear them,” says Steven. The line of futuristic kicks is also water resistant, breathable and lightweight. No stranger to the shoe industry, Steven worked in footwear development for 15 years. But when he was laid off during the recession in 2008, Steven was looking for options. “It’s scary when you are 47 years old, with three kids and laid off. You are pretty much unemployable. When I received my first unemployment check it was a very humbling experience,” remembers Steven. “I didn’t have a choice except to put one foot in front of the other and come up with a plan.”
His plan started to take shape after remembering a material he saw potential in. “I remember looking at packaging material made of Tyvek that we used to ship shoes in. It had so much character with a worn and vintage look. I had thought at the time how cool it would be to make shoes out of It.” recalls Steven. After about a year of experimenting, the futuristic footwear hit the market.
“People’s reactions were fantastic. We are living in a world where people like fresh, new an innovative products,” says Steven. Check out Civic Duty for a look at the styles and colors. Choose between the low-top, lace up, high-top, chukka boot and slip on. Retail $54-$64.
Each year, the 100 % of profits from one of the styles is donated to a charity picked by consumers. Right now, profits are donated to Common Ground Relief, which helps victims of Hurricane Katrina. “A lot of people think victims are back on their feet when in reality there are still many people displaced,” says Steven. But with the heart and sole of this company, Civic Duty hopes this is not a reality for much longer.