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In Conversation with Michael Doughty of Hylo Athletics

As a group of pro and amateur athletes, the Co-Founders of Hylo Athletics believe the future of sport needs radical change. It is their goal to reinvent sports shoes and push for new standards in an industry that has been slow to do anything about its environmental footprint. Today, textile production contributes more to global warming than aviation. Sport has always had an immense power to unite us around the world, regardless of backgrounds or beliefs. They hope to harness that power to bring the world's attention to the biggest issue of our lifetime. To help achieve this, they’re building a team of Hylo athletes such as Patrick Bamford and George Davey that represent the future of sport – people as passionate about their planet as they are about their performance.

In a recent episode of the MenswearStyle Podcast we interviewed Hylo Athletics Co-Founder Michael Doughty about his background and the founding story of the DTC sustainable sportwear brand. Michael started Hylo because, as a professional footballer, he had seen first-hand how little attention climate change receives in the sporting world. But, having seen the incredibly positive influence sport can have on the wider world in general, he knew there was huge possibility for change. Our host Peter Brooker and Michael also chatted about the technicalities of manufacturing shoes, being centred around sustainability, why corn fibre is so comfortable, and the challenges of launching a brand during a global pandemic.

Michael Doughty
Michael Doughty

“We had the idea to create a mainstream sports brand that fought for the planet. In my career, as an athlete, I was inadvertently subscribing to these big brands that didn't necessarily share my value system or align with the future of sport. We thought there was an opportunity to create something new, and that's really where Hylo Athletics started. It’s a sustainable sportswear company for the planet really. Anybody who knows footwear knows that it is incredibly complex, and probably one of the toughest products to innovate on and bring to market. There's a high barrier to entry for both cost and technical understanding. Our third co-founder is a much more experienced shoe dog who has 40 plus years of experience working in the shoe industry. So, he has both the credibility and the knowledge which allowed us to bring the product to market. We thought there was a unique advantage, and there certainly is, in being able to make sustainability your mandate throughout the process and bottom up. So, at every touchpoint in terms of packaging, supply chain, and materials, we’re centred around planet. If we stay true to our core values and our core mission then we do have that competitive advantage when it comes to sustainable development."

Patrick Bamford
Patrick Bamford

"The feedback has been really strong and positive. I think people subscribe and really believe in the mission of athletes for planet. That's something that's landed very clearly with our audience. The overwhelming feedback on product is incredibly comfortable. We use corn fibre which is a phenomenal material made using waste product from corn production. It's incredibly strong, durable, breathable, and it passes all the tests that are required for footwear. For 2021 we will be taking things slowly, looking to improve our existing offering, before we go to wider product development. Then retail is something that we're interested in, making it easier for customers to recycle the shoes and creating more experience-based shopping experiences.” 

This is a shortened transcribed edit of episode 96 of the MenswearStyle Podcast with Michael Doughty, Co-Founder of hyloathletics.com. You can listen to the full version below or listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favourite podcast player.

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