Slip-on sneakers

I’m buzzing about Rens slip-on sneakers made from used coffee grounds. Are you?

POPSUGAR Fitness Associate Editor Sam Brodsky in Rens Original Shoes

I was THAT college student who was totally convinced that he had developed a caffeine tolerance because of the large amounts of coffee consumed to fuel peer reviews and midterm papers. Although I have gave up caffeine for health reasons – it’s been running in my veins for two years! – I always have a love for all things coffee. That’s why my devoted cup of Joe heart was so intrigued to learn that the Rens Original shoes, launched in 2019 by Jesse Tran and Son Chu, both Vietnamese and living in Finland, were made from waste coffee.

In terms of logistics, each pair of Rens sneakers consists of six recycled plastic bottles and 150 grams of coffee grounds. The outsole is made of natural rubber and the yarn derived from coffee waste contains antibacterial and anti-odor properties. “Ren” also means “clean” or “pure” in many major Scandinavian languages. Talk about sustainability! Rens are comfortable and breathable too, as well as being waterproof, so you can jump in puddles if you want (I wore my pair in the rain a few times to see for myself).

The specific shoes I received were rebel black ($119) and the slip-on style is practical when I go out to run errands, when I walk (read: to be walked) my dogs, or when I just need a burst of something unique to turn a bland outfit into a bold one. The hashtag symbol smack dab on the upper of the shoes isn’t a detail you’d normally find on shoes, and Tran told POPSUGAR that it represents the community and a movement worth joining. But I’m all for carrying a message where the world can see.

Rens’ efforts have been crowdfunded from the start, and now Tran and Chu are releasing a new sneaker called the Nomad, also made from coffee scraps but designed more as a performance sneaker with laces and added features. Although I wore my Rens on an uphill treadmill hike, the Nomads, which have a crowdfunding campaign already underway, are for activities like running and “everything in between,” Tran said. He noted that Rens, on the other hand, is an “urban, everyday shoedespite the fact that many consumers use them for dancing and some gym workouts.

“What we want to convey with Rens is something really edgy, really intense,” Tran said. “And so it’s an enduring brand for bold generations.” As a sneaker startup changing the game of production by turning caffeine into a cause to “lighten” our ecological footprint, Rens does it with shoes that come in a variety of colorways. They command attention, make statements and are different. And different. . . well, different is good.

POPSUGAR Fitness Associate Editor Sam Brodsky in Rens Original Shoes

POPSUGAR Fitness Associate Editor Sam Brodsky in Rens Original Shoes