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Wanted: A Super-Simple Shoe For Bike Commuters That’s Waterproof

Tough and refined, Outlier’s Supermarine shoe is hand-built for foul weather using a World War II technology that still can’t be beat.

Wanted: A Super-Simple Shoe For Bike Commuters That’s Waterproof

Brooklyn-based clothing label Outlier began with two friends in search of a decent pair of pants. “Riding my bike around the city, I just wanted durable pants that looked a little nicer and could handle rain,” says co-founder Abe Burmeister.

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Outlier

Three years later and the company is producing its first shoe in that same spirit, but sourcing the right fabrics and construction took Burmeister and co-founder Tyler Clemens around the world. The soles are Vibram sheet rubber, from the Italian hiking and dress shoe manufacturer famous for those five-fingered shoes Sergey Brin loves so much. The interiors are vegetable-tanned buffalo leather (“traditional leather tanning is quite toxic,” says Burmeister) and the midsole cork.

Outlier

[The heel sports a reflective strip]

But the real technology is in the cotton exterior: it’s a 21st century version of a World War II-era woven cotton used by the Royal Air Force to keep pilots from dying of hypothermia, in the event of a crash-landing over water. “In general, we don’t like cotton,” says Burmeister, “but this is an exception.”

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The constituent parts are bench-made by high-end craftsmen in China, and two colors are available come June: flat black and olive. Available for pre-order now for $260.

About the author

I've written about innovation, design, and technology for Fast Company since 2007. I was the co-founding editor of FastCoLabs.

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