ACBC – Anything Can Be Changed, designs and manufactures patented sustainable footwear, like the first modular shoe in the world, thanks to the patented technology that guarantees the interchangeability of the upper through a zip. Founded in 2017, it revolutionises the footwear market with customisable, ecological shoes, perfect for the online market and exceptional for travelling. It quickly became a global brand that today boasts 13 single-brand stores in 9 countries, and co-branding collaborations with brands such as Moschino and Armani.
And if in 2019 the company recorded a 130% increase in revenues, it has just been revealed that there will be a share capital increase of 2.3 million euro, subscribed by the investors Doorway, Lead Investor of AucCap, Boost Heroes and others. The startup, in fact, aims to accelerate the development process with an expanded team, the strengthening of online marketing activities and e-commerce.
Edoardo Iannuzzi and Gio Giacobbe are the minds, and the founders of the project and they tell us all about its origins and outlooks.
How did your adventure start?
"With the Kickstarter campaign for Zip Shoes which was immediately a resounding success: 50 million online views of the presentation video raising $ 700,000 in pre-orders. Thanks to this capital injection we were able to support a 1-year research and development path of the product, to then create the final model".
What was the most complex part of that project?
"There were no zips on the market that would allow the upper to be interchanged on the sole. To do this it was necessary to check and calibrate all stages of the production process.
It was quite a challenge to find the right solution, but we got there and today our technology works and is patented".
What happend afterwards?
"The first investor, Triboo, put its faith in us, so that we managed to open the first office, the first single-brand stores, and we decided to dedicate ourselves entirely to the project.
After having well placed our single-product offer, we raised the bar of our goals and we started to evolve our mission by bringing our sustainable technologies to other brands in the form of collaboration".
What kind of collaborations?
"Our company’s mission is implicit in its name: Anything can be changed. Our challenge is to change the way fashion products are made by focusing on certified sustainable solutions at the level of raw materials, production processes and factories. An increasingly popular concept: after Emporio Armani and Moschino, we started collaborating with 6 other brands, whose collections will arrive on the market in January 2021. Together with them we have developed lines that abandon the zip concept (which inevitably turns out to be a niche product), lines that focus on obtaining an excellent mix of performance, price and sustainability".
How do you approach these collaborations?
"As for the aesthetics of the product, we start by choosing models that are already iconic for the brand, timeless models, or we create a completely new project. After which we think them over from the point of view of both materials and production processes. The final result gives the brand (and the public) a shoe designed, built, manufactured and certified according to the principles of sustainability.
And, with the companies that want it, we plan a path that goes beyond the single product and that accompanies the company in a sustainable all-round transformation, which also involves communication, one of the crucial and still poorly understood aspects of the sustainability theme. Developing the corporate culture with respect to these issues, transmitting a glossary and often new concepts, also for those who have been operating in the sector for years, is part of our role too. Knowing what can be said and what not; knowing which and how technologies have been used; learning more about the composition of materials and certifications".
The idea of the zip leads to a sustainability concept that first of all, focuses on product durability and on mechanical technology. What are the next challenges?
"We will shortly launch a material co-created with an Italian manufacturer already active in other industrial sectors. A material that comes from a patented continuous coating technology, which imitates leather features, and is made without any use of solvents. It is the first material of its kind, at international level, that does not contain any toxic substances, the production of which requires an energy expenditure reduced by 70% (having cancelled all the phases related to treatment, activation, drying and recovery of solvents).
Furthermore, the composition of the materials used is 97% bio-based: the polyurethane used comes from vegetable polyols, while the substrate is organic cotton.
The production process of this material increases its mechanical resistance, as the unnecessary evaporation of the solvent makes the material itself much less porous".
Are there other interesting materials?
"A couple of our (not footwear) design projects using bio-plastics will be released by the end of the year. Very interesting materials to work on. In particular, PHB – a 100% bio-based bio-plastic – whose development process is also completely non-toxic".
As for your partner companies, how do you choose them?
"We visit and constantly check them, making sure that they comply with workplace conditions requirements, and we ask for BSCI certification".
You have thought of something special and sustainable also for your shops…
"In June, we were the best start-up of B Heroes, the docu-series (broadcast on Sky and NOW TV) that tells the world of Italian innovative entrepreneurship. On that occasion, we met Rice House, a start-up that uses rice waste to create architectural elements. So, we chose their materials for our stores. The first ‘rice’ made store to open in September will be the one in Corso Buenos Aires in Milan".
What about the end of the product life cycle?
"This is another focal point of our strategy. As far as our brand is concerned (and we also invite the brands with which we collaborate to do the same), we collect used customer products at our stores and allocate them to a recycling programme that grinds them and reuses the chopped material for the realisation of anti-shock tiles used in children’s playgrounds.
As for bio-plastics, instead, we are working on a concept of composter able to treat also these materials".