The world doesn’t need more shoes, it needs better ones. But this requires innovation, which takes time, development and years of iteration. Hylo launched in 2020 with one model, the hylo Light. Over the next three years, we continued to develop shoes based on this original shoe, later introducing the hylo Legacy, designed for daily wearing, as well as the hylo Run, for increased durability and performance. 

However, our ideas and ambitions began to outgrow this existing silhouette and the hylo Light, Legacy and Run could no longer match our expectations of high performance. We needed to start fresh and so we decided to take all our learnings from these shoes and apply them to an entirely new model. 

We wanted to make a shoe that could compete with the market’s highest performing everyday running shoes but with a fraction of the environmental impact through the use of biobased material innovation. A shoe that could be your go-to running shoe for everyday training, running a marathon or even an ultra. 

We set out by building the brief for a shoe that we didn’t think existed: a daily running shoe that not only provides high performance, but that also utilises biobased materials over petroleum derived plastics and prioritises exceptional design, proving that sustainability doesn’t have to result in compromise.

Once the brief was finalised, we moved into the design phase. At hylo, we create with a materials first mindset, drawing on the backgrounds and expertise of the product team members to create a stand out design using the industry's most innovative performance fabrics. 

Our midsole

We worked with a biomechanical engineer to create PureGlide™, our proprietary midsole geometry that was derived from data, ensuring the optimum proportions of neutral stability and increased propulsion. Inspired by textures and patterns within nature, we incorporated tree-like lines into the midsole to contrast against its angular shape. 

Our outsole 

Inspired by Product Director and co-founder, Jorma, and his background in the automotive industry, looking at car tyres and their ability to displace water, the cutouts between the rubber panels not only reduce weight but also increase traction by dissipating water through the grooves to avoid aquaplaning. 

We harnessed our proprietary design methodology, CleanTech, that places biobased materials at the forefront of the design process, replacing traditional petroleum derived plastics. We also make sure that the materials we’re researching can be sourced as close to the factory as possible, minimising use of transportation as much as possible to lower our carbon footprint.

Our upper

We prioritised comfort, softness and support but also wanted to make sure the material and structure was light and breathable. We worked with our supplier on an industry leading material made from castor beans, to create two structures that would provide the desired comfort and soft hand feel but also the performance. 

Often working with and developing materials that haven’t been used before means that we occasionally had to adapt the design accordingly. Take our midsole for example, we developed our compound, HyperBolt, using a nitrogen injected foaming process that meant we had to alter the mould so that the compound could expand correctly and sufficiently. In order to reduce rounds of testing and sampling and to minimise risk, we used 3D printing to ensure the design was validated before we opened the full size mould set.

Once the design and the materials had been approved on an initial sample, it was at this point we could proceed with a larger sample run for lab and wear testing. This stage is absolutely crucial in validating the performance of our shoe. The hylo Impact was lab-tested at component and finished goods level - meaning each component is fit for purpose and validated against a set of testing criteria. The lab feeds back on whether each component, and the entire product, has passed through enough cycles of abrasion and various other durability, performance and quality tests. 

Following this, we carried out arguably the most critical test, the wear test. We built out our Champion wear-test programme, ranging from elite to everyday athletes, all racking up varying degrees of mileage with different running gaits and frequency. They provide direct feedback to us on a variety of topics such as cushioning, rebound, comfort, weight, support, feel, look and how the shoe affects their bodies and their running.

During these testing phases, we’re able to make amendments based on feedback that ensure the product can withstand its purpose. We make sure that all samples we produce are either saved for our product development archive, or worn. Those that can no longer be worn are stored as part of Hyloop™, our recycling platform. 

Whilst the wear testing was underway, we spent multiple weeks working closely with the factory and our supply chain to optimise the production process, making sure that materials are kept in the loop as much as possible, that sea and land transportation is used instead of air freight and that production waste and off-cuts are re-used where possible. We see this as imperative during the development process to make sure that we have a high level of transparency and close relationships with our suppliers. 

Whilst working with the supply chain, we also calculated the hylo Impact’s Carbon Footprint, through a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). This is carried out by analysing the raw materials and their processing, the manufacturing process, packaging, logistics, retail, transport, product care, end of use and finally duration of service.

After two years of research and development, collaboration, highly skilled design and biomechanical engineering, as well as rigorous lab testing, wear testing and sampling, we had made our confirmation sample ready for production. The hylo IMPACT, a shoe that sits (or runs) at the intersection of high performance and sustainability, proving that nature can perform, without compromising on quality, aesthetics and more importantly, your runs.

However, this doesn’t mean we stop here. A crucial part of product development and innovation involves reflecting on how you could improve. To hold ourselves accountable and to efficiently communicate our progress, we look at two factors: the carbon footprint, of which is 8.63kg/coe2 per pair, and the biobased content, of which is 40% by weight. Although this carbon footprint is 37% lower than the industry average of 13.61kg/Co2e and the bio content is significantly higher than the industry average, there is always more we can do. 

We aren’t perfect but we are impatient.

Our product team is constantly researching and developing ways to improve performance, reduce impact and increase the bio content to eventually eliminate the use of plastic, one shoe at a time.