Not All Rubber is Created Equal.
Over six months ago, we met the team from a rubber factory located in Northern Guangdong province. The factory was a small operation, with only a few production lines, but they produced for reputable brands like Keen and Reebok, and their location was nearby our steel moldmaker, so it was a good match.
Our initial samples came back with thick parting lines (the seams between parts of a rubber mold), often a result of too much rubber being pushed into the mold. The trimming required to correct this is largely dependant on human craftsmanship, and we knew this was a difficult thing to control.
After discussing with the team, we were assured this would improve for production, but sample after sample, nothing changed. We’re promising our customers the utmost attention to detail, so when something doesn't feel right, we move on and continue the search.
Defunct Rubber Molds
The Scavenger Hunt.
As an emerging brand, convincing high-end suppliers to do business with you is often a huge challenge. With small order sizes and the additional development time required for new ventures, we’re not always the most attractive candidate for their already successful business. Our development agency has gone to bat for us on multiple occasions; they have such a deep understanding and belief in our vision, they’ve been instrumental in relaying this message to suppliers and enabling us to work with the premier factories in China.
When you don’t have a connection with a great supplier, often, the way to find amazing factories is to work your way backwards. Research the brands with the best rubber in the world, use online tools to find out where they’re receiving shipments and follow the trail. So we did just that, we looked at the global leader in traction and grip, a world-renowned Italian rubber company (we're sworn to secrecy) and found that they have a long-term supplier in southern China.
Small Step, Giant Leap.
So we got in touch, and arranged a visit. Once we were on the factory floor, we could discuss our ideas, see what leading brands were doing and explore how we could improve on the processes. From their focus on innovation to their development of new compounds and processes, we were extremely impressed. In addition, the factory’s testing labs were extensive, and the variety of tests they perform are done in the most extreme temperatures and conditions.
There are a number of factors that go into a rubber sole. From the interactions of compounds and densities, to the importance of tailoring different areas for different requirements in grip and stress, we’re continuing to learn and develop new solutions. We could send a thousand emails back and forth, we prefer the hands-on approach.
In the end, the products will speak for themselves. Try them for 30 days and if you’re not convinced, we’ll take them back, no questions asked. And be sure to check out some more images below!
Rubber Processing - Pushing Out the Air-Pockets
Rubber Blanks for Stamping
Rubber Molding on the Factory Floor
Rubber Trimming and Finishing
Finished Avro Outsole
Shop the Avro and Avro Knit now.