Clae is a Los Angeles-based footwear brand whose name takes it inspiration from “clay”, the same raw material that is molded by movement and perception.





The brand was founded in 2001 and claims to be one of the first sneaker brands to incorporate minimalistic uppers on comfortable athletic soles. For more than 20 years Clae had been produced in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, directly in collaboration with a local workshop that managing the entire production chain with careful quality control, respecting the current local labor laws and regulations, guaranteeing 25% higher base salary than in minimum wage rates and according to healthy, safe, loyal and fair treatment of its workers.

Clae
Photo: Shafik Kadi
Clae
Recently, Clae started an agreement with KX Lab, a newly-opened technologically advanced knit manufacturing facility in Los Angeles. Thanks to the new partnership, Clae unveiled Louie, the brand’s first-ever sneaker assembled in Los Angeles, a style that features elements of comfort crafted with sustainable and vegan knit materials.

 





The Clae Louie sneaker features a breathable knit upper that guarantees lightweight comfort and a secure fit, and is completed by the brand's signature new Desert Track sole. Its upper is crafted from recycled polyester yarns, which help divert used plastic from landfills and oceans, while requiring 59% less energy to be produced than virgin polyester.

Clae
Photo: Clae
Clae
This shoe’s minimalist, one-piece construction is thoughtfully engineered to eliminate waste and uses significantly fewer adhesives during the assembly process. Recycled components accompany the Louie shoe, including the shoebox and a 100% GRS-certified insole.




The partnership with KX Lab offers Clae offers the opportunity to create a more sustainable shoe while enabling the brand to design, develop, and produce products under one roof. 




As a consequence, its productive and creative processes are more efficient, helps diminish inventory waste, and allow for a quicker response to the market.

Clae
Photo: Shafik Kadi
Clae
The factory’s innovative technologies, such as their automated knitting machines and proprietary assembly process, drastically diminish the dangers and waste commonly associated with traditional footwear factories. 




“Partnering with KX Lab to do something locally as opposed to abroad made for better accessibility and communication and added a human element to all aspects of creating this shoe,” says Jim Bartholet, CEO, Clae. “From design concept to production, our local designers were able to have more face-to-face interactions with the manufacturers, all while using a person-centric approach that values collaboration.”




“Clae’s longstanding roots in Los Angeles, its less-is-more aesthetic, and commitment to producing  shoes more responsibly helped form a great foundation for this partnership,” says Joshua Katz, co-founder and CEO, KX Inc. “We’re proud of what we made together and, perhaps just as importantly, how we made it together.”

Clae
Photo: Shafik Kadi
Clae
Clae’s Louie by KX Lab is sold through brand's own website in three colorways (blue, black, off-white olive), for US$180, in men’s whole sizes ranging from 7 to 12.





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