Known as the Land of Fire and Ice, Iceland has long been a favorite of adventurous travelers who come for waterfall hikes, river rafting, ATV rides and treks across volcanic landscapes. Now, after over a year of lockdowns and restrictions, Visit Iceland (the country’s tourism board) is looking to entice tourists back to enjoy all the outdoor fun—and is making sure you have some cool gear to sport while you do so. Throughout the month of July, Visit Iceland is partnering with a British vegan shoe manufacturer to turn visitors’ trusty lockdown sweatpants into custom hiking boots that will help them explore the great outdoors.
The offering is also a way to say a symbolic goodbye to life in lockdown. “Over the past 18 months, being locked down has had a significant effect on our mental health, [and] most of us found solace in our lockdown sweatpants, which have become an emblem of the rut we have been stuck in,” says Zoe Aston, a London-based therapist and mental health consultant tapped by Visit Iceland to speak about this initiative. “Now, as things change again, we can all benefit from upcycling our sweatpants into something new that represents what you have learned, rather than simply leaving the experience behind.”
Located on Rainbow Street in downtown Reykjavik, the Sweatpant Boots pop-up will be open throughout July and will accommodate the first three customers a day who book a slot and have proof of an airline ticket showing that they arrived in Iceland after June 24. (New slots will open up each day, and people can also add their names to a waitlist if no appointments are available.) Once they’ve snagged their place, visitors just need to turn over their beloved sweatpants, and the team from Will’s Vegan Shoes will do the rest.
The process starts with premade boots crafted with high-quality vegan materials and featuring a removable and customizable foot pad insert. The sweatpants are then transformed into the body of the shoe, with any leftover material used to make a carrying bag (as an ethical and sustainable company, Will’s does not use plastic bags or packaging, and also invests in renewable energy sources to offset its carbon emissions). The whole process takes about three hours, and customers can expect to receive their free, one-of-a-kind boots in about a day—just in time to wear on their Icelandic adventures.