S04 Episode 195 | YATAY SNEAKERS + BIO-BASED VEGAN ALTERNATIVES TO LEATHER

In episode 195, Kestrel welcomes Umberto De Marco, the founder of sustainable footwear brand, YATAY, to the show. In addition to his work building sneaker brand YATAY, Umberto is the president of eco-leather giant and family business Coronet.

“What I’ve been doing since I started working in the family company — I had a mission: trying to change a material that has always been just a simple, cheap alternative of leather — trying to evolve this material in a more sustainable and durable one.”
-Umberto de Marco, Founder of YATAY

On this week’s show, Umberto shares more on how he grew up in the leather alternatives industry, with his father being a pioneer in ‘eco-leathers’. When he joined the family business, Umberto was focused on finding more sustainable alternatives to the poly-based leathers they were offering.

Also, Umberto shares more on his own company YATAY, and how they are working to further close the loop in their manufacturing, so eventually, every component of the shoe can be recycled and put back into future shoes.

Being that YATAY and Coronet are based in Milan, Italy, Umberto shares more on how COVID-19 has impacted his work and what he thinks lies ahead for the fashion industry-at-large.

The below thoughts, ideas + organizations were brought up in this chat:

  • 70% of the electricity used for the production at Coronet’s facilities comes from solar panels.

  • At Coronet, they started an incentive program for their workers, where all the money that is saved from their efforts in reducing waste in the manufacturing process is given back to the workers at the end of each year.

  • YATAY’s shoe box converts into a backgammon board game, as a way to reduce the waste that comes with packaging. Also, they include a little bag made from excess bio-based leather, complete with checkers inside.

  • YATAY Forest, on the back of each pair of shoes, there is a code — when a shopper enters it on the website, they can select what type of tree they’d like to plant in YATAY’s “forest” in Kenya, and then they can monitor their tree and stay up to date on how it’s growing and how much CO2 it absorbs. Also, the shopper will be advised on when their tree has absorbed enough CO2 to offset the production of their shoes.

  • More on the materials in YATAY’s shoes >