Brothers Josh Shorrock and James Shorrock debuted sport shoe start-up Lane Eight in Hong Kong in 2018, bringing to fruition plans that had been brewing since May 2017. Developed for recreational fitness enthusiasts, or “everyday athletes,” Lane Eight shoes are also designed to be planet-conscious, using 100 percent vegan materials. Its AD1 trainer launched in 2019, for example, is composed of recycled polyester knit and algae-based midsole, and incorporates the equivalent of 11 recycled single-use plastic bottles.
Growing up, their father had worked in sourcing for shoe brands Adidas and Reebok, exposing the Shorrock brothers, already inclined to playing sports, to the activewear industry.
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Retail in Asia speaks with Lane Eight co-founder Josh Shorrock on the brand’s product and sustainability strategy, and expansion plans in the United States.
RiA: Tell us how you conceived Lane Eight.
Josh Shorrock: We both grew up with sports and naturally became interested in the gear, and footwear in particular. After university, James worked at a publication as senior footwear editor, during which he learned about branding and marketing from a variety of apparel and footwear brands. I joined Adidas as a footwear developer, learning how to take 2D concepts through development and into production. At a certain point we both felt we had complementary skill sets to create our own footwear brand and bring something new to the market.
RiA: What makes Lane Eight special?
Shorrock: From the start, our goal was to create footwear for the everyday active person rather than professional athletes. The big brands have always been very category-focused, catering to the highest level athletes in their respective sports. At the same time we saw a shift away from participation in team sports towards more gym- based individual or group workouts as being the main form of exercise for people in their 20s, 30s and above. In parallel, the shift towards more daily athleisure wear continued so we saw it as the perfect time to create truly versatile performance footwear that would fit seamlessly into people’s everyday wear. That meant not just in the gym, but to and from as well.
RiA: Can you share more about the brand’s commitment to sustainability?
Shorrock: The biggest source of carbon emissions for a company in our industry is in the product, so we started by committing to using as much natural and recycled material as possible without compromising the integrity and performance of our shoes. However, without actually measuring the carbon footprint of each model it was impossible to know the real impact of using one material over another.
We partnered with Carbonfact to measure the carbon footprint of each model based on the EU Commission standard, which gave us our baseline figures. Now, when creating new models we’re able to see the impact that different materials will have on the end footprint, allowing us to make better informed decisions in the development phase. Ultimately though, we see sustainability as a process of continuous improvement. We’re always looking at how we can continue to lower our impact, not just on a product level, but also with our daily operations – ie. reducing air freight and opting for sea freight as much as possible.
RiA: Lane Eight deliberately carries only two types of shoes at this time, the Trainer AD 1 and the HIIT Trainer. How do you plan to sustain consumer appetite?
Shorrock: We recognise that it would not be possible to scale with just one model, but with new models we focus on versatile performance. We position our brand and models at the center of the three main product categories: Fashion, Training, and Running. We differentiate our models by developing them to have a bias towards one of categories more so than the others.
In June we will be launching our third model, the Relay Trainer, which is designed and developed to be more of a runner while still having the necessary reinforcements and stability for any gym based workout.
RiA: What have been some of Lane Eight’s key milestones?
Shorrock: For footwear in particular, people need to be able to feel the product and test for size. So naturally, opening our first store in Hong Kong’s Star Street neighborhood was a key milestone.
Collaborating with another brand on a product was always a target for us, so when we had the opportunity to collaborate with Shake Shack last year, we had to jump on it. That was the largest scale collaboration and first time we had created custom packaging and designs with a brand partner so that was a big milestone for us.
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RiA: What’s next for Lane Eight?
Shorrock: Our main focus for the next couple years is expanding our distribution not just in Hong Kong, but in the United States. Given the size of the US market, a greater emphasis will be placed on scaling our US business. And in order to fuel that growth, we will certainly be investing more into product development in order to expand our footwear range.