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80 million Areca palm leaves fall in Southern India every year and, through “The Tree of Life Project,” O’Neill Footwear is repurposing them and giving them value, creating the first-ever palm leaf sandal.

“The Tree of Life Project” pays local Indian people to pick up and carefully select fallen palm leaves used in manufacturing the sandals, benefitting communities economically and the planet environmentally. Utilizing natural materials gives each sandal an innately varied color and pattern, two pairs will never be identical.

Working with material designer Tjeerd Veenhoven, who spent four years researching the leaves for O’Neill Footwear, the Californian surf brand has designed two styles. While always unique, both have palm leaf footbeds, one natural or vegetable tanned leather strap and one palm leaf strap backed with suede for comfort. A light gray rubber outsole combined with a coral or turquoise midsole complete the construction.

Dramatically changing surfing by developing the world’s first neoprene wetsuit, Jack O’Neill founded O’Neill in 1952. Today, the brand produces functional activewear and lifestyle products, maintaining loyalty to their surfing roots.

The O’Neill palm leaf sandals will be available from July 28 for $89.95 at selected retailers.

Words by Aaron Howes
Branded Content Editor
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