As 2022 comes to a close, it is the perfect time to reflect on this year’s events, accomplishments, and progress. 2022 was a year of unprecedented innovation and growth for the NFW team, and we are extremely proud of what we were able to accomplish. We brought new materials to market in CLARUS®, PLIANT™, and TUNERA™, traveled to events around the world, including the World Economic Forum in Davos, Plastic Waste Free World in Cologne, and Lineapelle in Milan, and partnered with even more global brands to bring our vision of a material-rich, plastic-free future to life. Everything we do is rooted in a belief that we can enable people and the planet to thrive together — and it’s hard not to get excited about that.
With 2023 on the horizon, we wanted to take a minute to reflect on some highlights from the past twelve months.
CLARUS debuts with Ralph Lauren
NFW partnered with Ralph Lauren to create a new kind of polo, which debuted at the Australian Open in January 2022. The RLX CLARUS Polo Shirt, made from CLARUS fabric, featured a novel type of high-performance cotton. The polo used both recycled and virgin cotton to create a quick-drying and moisture-management garment that breathes like traditional cotton blends without sacrificing the performance attributes of synthetics. Because it used only cotton instead of plastic-based synthetic materials, it is much more environmentally friendly.
Ralph Lauren announced their minority investment in NFW in 2020, and the RLX CLARUS Polo marks the beginning of a long line of collaborations with Ralph Lauren. (See our gift guide for additional Ralph Lauren CLARUS products currently for sale.) The release of the RLX CLARUS Polo Shirt marked the first time that a high-performance apparel product was created with natural fibers, and both NFW and Ralph Lauren are delighted to provide this kind of innovation together.
NFW closes $85 million Series B
In April 2022, NFW closed $85 million from investors in Series B funding. Investors in this round of funding included:
Evolution VC Partners
BMW i Ventures
Ralph Lauren Corporation
Central Illinois Angels
Lewis & Clark AgriFood
Engine No. 1
With the funding, NFW scaled operations for our suite of plastic-free materials, MIRUM®, CLARUS, PLIANT, and TUNERA, making these innovations more accessible across a broader range of industries, from apparel to footwear to automotive.
NFW publishes the first LCA of MIRUM
In 2022, we were able to complete our first life cycle assessment (LCA) of MIRUM. We began the assessment with environmental consulting group Anthesis in 2021 and released the results in April of this year.
We found that MIRUM produces around an order of magnitude less greenhouse gas emissions than synthetic leather-like materials and conventional chrome-tanned leather.
For us, this LCA is just the beginning. We have additional assessments underway and are continually working to improve our materials and shrink our environmental impact. See our membership in the California Cotton and Climate Coalition as an example.
Allbirds launches the Plant Pacer made with MIRUM
Last year, Allbirds invested $2 million to support the expansion of MIRUM at NFW. After months of behind the scenes work and collaboration between our two teams, Allbirds released the Plant Pacer, made with MIRUM, in September.
The Plant Pacer has been dubbed the “go-to shoe in Silicon Valley,” thanks in part to its use of low carbon, plastic-free MIRUM. The shoe is just the start for Allbirds as they explore how Plant Leather made with MIRUM, a new entrant to Allbirds' natural material portfolio, can be used on both existing and new silhouettes.
NFW CEO & CTO named inventors of the year
This fall, the Intellectual Property Owner’s Education Foundation (IPOEF) announced it would award the prestigious Inventor of the Year Award for 2022 to NFW CEO Luke Haverhals and CTO Aaron Amstutz. They joined theranks of inventorswho have developed COVID-19 vaccines, self-driving technologies, and gene editing software (CRISPR-CAS9), just to name a few.
Haverhals and Amstutz received the 49th Inventor of the Year Award from IPOEF at an awards celebration at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., on December 7.
UNLESS Collective launches the plastic-free Degenerate sneaker
Late this year, UNLESS Collective launched the Degenerate, the world’s only plastic-free, biobased shoe. The Degenerate utilizes NFW’s entire ecosystem of materials: a PLIANT™ outsole, TUNERA™ foam for the internal midsole, CLARUS® textile for the vamp and quarter, and MIRUM® leather alternative for the upper overlays.
This is a groundbreaking collaboration produced a durable, comfortable and chic sneaker that is designed to naturally return to the earth. With the combined forces of the two companies, the Degenerate is demonstrating circular solutions for the footwear industry.
Looking forward to 2023
2022 may be ending, but many of our initiatives and partnerships are just beginning!
As we continue our focus on creating the world’s best materials, we expect 2023 to be a year of continued collaboration, global growth, and shockingly sustainable stories from our team. We're excited to add more manufacturing capacity next year that will allow us to meet more demand for MIRUM and CLARUS.