Whenever Everlane introduces a new shoe style, its fans—which include celebrities like Meghan Markle and Angelina Jolie—are ready. They’ll join waitlists that will already be thousands deep to score a pair of the brand’s minimal, ethically-made styles. So far, Everlane’s footwear selection has focused on those sophisticated, season-less silhouettes people don’t swap out every season—the loafer, the boot, the low block heel. One major shoe that went unrepresented, though? The sneaker.
“We’ve known all along that, in many ways, sneakers are the future of footwear,” Alison Melville, Everlane’s general manager of footwear and accessories, tells Glamour. “As apparel and culture [become more casual], footwear is going right along with it. It was less that we were resisting [adding a sneaker] and more that we wanted to take our time and do it right.”
A big concern for the Everlane team was, in a time when everyone has their version of an everyday sneaker, creating something that stood out in the market and could still live in a closet for years. “Striking a balance between those two things is a really big challenge,” she says. “That’s why it took us more than two years.”
The goal was to design something that “had broad appeal across gender, across ages, across all sorts of demographics, while also being recognizable and distinctive.” The result—which is being announced today, and released on April 25—is a unisex style called the Trainer. It’ll be available in seven different colors and retails for $98. Aesthetically, it reads like a cooler interpretation of the inescapable “dad sneaker” trend. And though there’s no explicit branding on it, there’s one Everlane hallmark woven into the design: a triangle quarter panel at the top of the shoe.
“We designed it with the recognition that it’s not an athletic shoe,” explains Melville. “Most people wear sneakers for nonathletic reasons, and we wanted to design a sneaker that had that truly versatile end use in mind. We want to produce timeless classics that are basic and that last you a long time, from both a quality and a trend perspective. They’re not splash-in-the-pan fashion items. What we’ve learned across [footwear]—whether it’s the Day Glove or the Day Heel or the Day Boot—is that when you can drill down to the essentialness of a product and deliver on it, you’ll find detailing that sets it apart.”
There was also the environmental impact to consider. As a company, Everlane is committed to reducing waste and to increase transparency in the fashion industry. (Last year, it pledged to remove all virgin plastic from its supply chain by 2021.) When it came time to build something that has as many components as a sneaker, the brand wanted to ensure everything from the sole to the laces was aligned with that mission—and also continue educating customers.
That’s why Everlane’s doing this launch a little differently: Instead of simply adding the Trainer to its existing footwear section, it’s creating a brand-new label, Tread by Everlane. “We wanted to make sure that the sneaker had its own brand platform where we could talk about message to reducing the burden of plastic,” says Melville. They’ll also continue talking about carbon offsetting, and reducing water usage. “Those conversations are quite nuanced, in terms of sustainability,” she adds. The new label will “make sure that we have the platform to tell the whole story.”
With Tread by Everlane, the brand is hoping to work toward creating “the world’s lowest-impact sneakers.” Melville is tight-lipped about what other styles might be coming, but assures that the team is “focused on the Trainer for the foreseeable future.”
Ahead, shop Everlane‘s long-anticipated foray into sneakers.