Trying to tear Tyvek is like attempting to rip a phone book in half–it simply can’t be done. The synthetic material–discovered, developed, and trademarked by DuPont in 1955–is uncannily strong and incredibly durable, which is why it’s used for weatherproofing homes and mailing envelopes.
But now, the Unbelievable Testing Laboratory has found a fashionable function for the fiber, on perhaps the most put-upon part of the human body–your feet. Light Wing is a pair of Tyvek shoes that weigh in at a slight one-third pound per pair (roughly equivalent to the heft of one of your Chucks).
The Shanghai-based design firm was founded by Frog Design and Microsoft alum Token Hu, whose passion for science-centered R&D propelled him to ditch his regular gig to pursue this project full-time. It took a solid 15 months and more than 200 prototypes to perfect the final yellow-, blue-, and graphite-hued model, which the firm has dubbed the Pencil.
The slim, foam rubber sole gives the sneakers a more refined look than your standard Vans, and Tyvek’s unique qualities actually make for an ideal trainer (go figure). The fact that they’re water resistant but breathable, fitted with odor-eating Poliyou insoles, and are washable is good news for those with perennially sweaty peds. And in the burgeoning modern tradition of good design for social good, the brand is also donating a portion of profits to Teach for America.