Why Volvo Canada is making shoes

On a day meant to celebrate the notion of a car-free world, Volvo Canada is getting into the shoe business.

The car company has partnered with Casca, an “earth-friendly” shoe brand based in Vancouver, to introduce a special sneaker “inspired” by Volvo’s electric SUV the XC40 Recharge, and made with a focus on sustainability. Its features include a sole partially made from recycled car tires, and yarn made from recycled plastic bottles.

“World Car Free day was established to bring global awareness to the significance of reducing air pollution and encourage a more active lifestyle,” said Tara Powadiuk, marketing director, Volvo Cars Canada. “For Volvo Cars, sustainability is as important as safety. The shoe is a symbol of support for World Car Free Day, and through this initiative, we aim to highlight the larger significance of World Car Free Day and the importance of a sustainable future.”

Volvo chose to work with Casca because of shared brand values around sustainability, technology and modern design, said Powadiuk. “At the core for both Volvo Cars and Casca is progress—innovating and advancing towards a better future for all,” she said.

Volvo has made sustainability a central focus of its brand and marketing. In a release announcing the shoes, the Swedish car company said it is “committed to setting the highest standards of sustainability in mobility, and that goes beyond electrifying our fleet to transforming all aspects of our business.”

Some of its commitments include:

  • Aiming for 50% of sales to be fully electric by 2025, and producing only electric vehicles by 2030;
  • Becoming climate neutral by 2040, and reducing overall CO2 emissions (from 2018 levels) by 2025 ;
  • Volvo Cars’ plants are powered by more than 80% climate-neutral electricity.
  • Reducing the amount of plastic packaging for its parts, and increasing its recycled content to over 50% by 2022.

The shoes will be featured in organic and paid social content (including a 15-minute “recharge meditation” video, below) using the line “Because every step towards a sustainable future matters,” and supported through PR and influencer outreach from Narrative, creative by Grey and media handled by Wavemaker.

The shoes will also be featured in in Volvo’s FIKA content series on YouTube (see a trailer below).  “Our Retailer network is a vital element of everything we do in Canada, and the Volvo Car Retailers from across Canada are also participating by sharing their sustainability efforts and sharing this initiative on their social channels,” said Powadiuk.

“The Volvo XC40 Recharge was designed to reduce environmental impact, so it was the perfect inspiration for the shoe,” said Kevin Reid, lead director and co-founder of Casca, in a release introducing the shoes. “Through this collaboration we’re also celebrating many design firsts—our first shared design, our fastest production to market, and new recycled materials we’ve never used before.”

In addition the environmentally friendly design considerations, a Swedish flag will be on one shoe tag, while Casca’s familiar yellow tag will be on the other. Volvo’s “Thor hammer headlight” influenced the shoes’ “linework and panelling, delivering a more performance-inspired aesthetic to Casca’s popular Avro silhouette.”

David Brown