Eco-footwear innovator Galahad Clark honors seven generations of family shoemaking his own way.
The barefoot shoe movement pioneer leads London-based Vivobarefoot, maker of a full collection of performance and lifestyle barefoot shoes he started in 2004 with a boyhood friend. He co-founded United Nude, the women’s fashion brand that unveiled its first 3D-printed shoes in 2014 at its Soho store. He also co-founded Worn Again, who in partnership with H&M, are pioneering closed loop solutions for the fashion industry. Galahad Clark’s footwear uses recycled materials and manufacturing processes with minimal impact on the environment. The sustainable shoe businesses generate over $40 million annually.
Galahad Clark focuses on Vivobarefoot whose patented ultra-thin soles and anatomic shapes aim to make barefoot the gold standard for the footwear industry. With a million pairs of shoes sold, and growing at more than 30% per year, Vivobarefoot is expanding internationally via franchises. It is chaired by Galahad Clark’s father, Lance Clark, former managing director of C & J Clark Ltd., the iconic British-based international shoe company founded in 1825.
Lance Clark set up and runs a social enterprise called Soul of Africa that Vivobarefoot collaborates with, giving profits to local community projects in Ethiopia. Together with his cousin Asher Clark, Vivobarefoot’s award winning creative director, Galahad Clark aims to make Vivobarefoot the most sustainable shoes in the world (best for you and the planet). Speaking Chinese helps when certifying CSR at Chinese factories.
Time will tell if this niche player can become mainstream, but U.S. and E.U. sales continue to rise. Will Galahad produce a barefoot shoe for Clarks? Talks fizzled in 2011, when steep growth in the barefoot sector began to level out, but the father of two, who finished a New York City marathon barefoot, still dreams of shoemaking “with ancient wisdom using modern technology.”