Sneakers are a complicated business. According to Nike
Psudo is the brainchild of Michael Rich, a career shoe industry professional seeking a better alternative. His background in product development, sales, and sourcing to include a stint at shoe behemoth Caleres
The result is a casual lifestyle sneaker made from just three components. The fabric upper is 75 percent of its content from post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. Psudo uses Repreve® manufactured by Unifi, a leading fiber manufacturer which has transitioned to recycled fibers fueled by tech advances. For every pair of Psudo’s sold, 7.2 plastic bottles are saved from landfill.
In photos, it can be hard to tell that the upper is one piece as three-D printing is made to mimic stitching, laces, stripes, and other colorful design details. The lack of lacing meant that the upper needed to be stretchable. The material used existed in some forms in other industries that Rich and his team repurposed with innovation.
“It’s our secret sauce. It stretches enough but not too much and holds its shape. It looks like a sneaker, feels like a sneaker but not like any sneaker you have tried,” he attests while admitting it still has some sizing kinks. “The sneaker may not fit 100%, but it fits most.” The materials used make the shoe breathable, antimicrobial, and machine washable.
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Parts two and three are the insole and outsole, respectively, made from military-grade polyurethane. The versatile material is supportive, contains a healthy energy return, is slip resistant, and is durable. The aim is also to make these from 50 to 80 percent recycled materials.
Despite the challenges, part of Rich’s model was to produce the shoes locally in California. “This is and will be the biggest challenge. The shoe was reverse engineered to be made locally. We are not working in traditional ‘shoe’ facilities, which requires a lot of training. I am seeing first-hand the challenges with domestic manufacturing. But the benefits far outweigh the challenges, such as eschewing typical lead times that factor in overseas shipping. Each shoe is cut to order as a direct-to-consumer brand to avoid overproduction.
Thus far, Psudo is selling via their website and a partnership with Zappos with an eye-towards eventually adding wholesale. The company is self-funded by Rich and his wife, Kortney, who serves as the company’s CMO and recently raised $3M in seed round funding from Stern Aegis.