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Devaney oversees efforts at Simple Shoes, which relaunched its shoes three years ago as fully sustainable — using hemp, recycled plastic bottles and organic cotton in its designs. But Simple makes sneakers, sandals and children’s shoes designed for casual use, not road racing or trail running.Nike has begun sprinkling recycled content into its basketball and running shoes, usually at low proportions. It’s also reduced the amount of toxic glues and curbed the amount of supporting material on the outside of some athletic footwear.

But unlike Nike, END vows to live and die by its sustainability appeal. It’s targeting twentysomething consumers with a specific message, a narrower line of products and midrange prices.Estey said END prices its shoes between $60 and $90 so that recent college grads with their first incomes can afford to buy them. It also plans to make products for outside use — for beaches, mountain trails and city streets. In spring, it will release lines of low-top running shoes for men and women.“We’ll never be in the gym,“ he said. „We’ll never be on the court.“END co-founder Ben Finklea (white t-shirt) at the startup’s June 19 launch party at the Ace Hotel in Portland.

Investors have liked END’s plan. The company won $100,000 from last year’sZino Society Zillionaire Investment Forum in Seattle and $150,000 in March as overall winner of the Angel Oregon competition.END’s sustainable claims revolve mostly around what’s left out of its shoes. Estey has pared down what he considered over-engineered reinforcements found in most running and trail shoes, leaving less foam in the collar and smaller track-and-field-style backs in the heel.The shoes also lack liners on the inside — and plastic decor that covers the outside of most running shoes, especially trail runners, but that generates a lot of waste on the factory floor, Estey and other designers say.

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