Shoemaker designs footwear with earth in mind

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TIFFANY LEWISTelegraph-Journal
September 5, 2017

Saint John shoemaker Paul Kasdan developed the Chenna Baree shoe, an environmentally friendly shoe made of linen. Kasdan said the shoe’s design is based off of Chinese martial arts footwear.
Photo: Tiffany Lewis/Telegraph-Journal

SAINT JOHN • The question of the meaning of life has always been one of interest for Paul Kasdan. 

“To me, meaning is about bringing beauty into action,” he said.

Kasdan, a Saint John shoemaker, developed a shoe he said accomplishes just that.

The Chenna Baree shoe is made of biodegradable material that is earth-friendly and designed based on Chinese martial arts shoes. They come in many colours, including olive green, purple, navy blue and red.

Kasdan began making shoes at the age of 18 and started his first business in shoe repair a year later in Halifax.

In 1986, he opened a business in Saint John along with his business partner called Thera-Ped. From there, a spin-off company called ClinicServer was created.

“When ClinicServer sold to another company, that project was done and I was deciding what I should do next. And I’ve really been out of clinical work too long for me to just jump back into that so I started designing and thinking about going back to my roots [and] getting back into shoes,” Kasdan said.

“The first thing I did was I did a lot of research on fabric and eco fibres and it turns out that linen is the original eco fibre,” he said.

As a result, Kasdan decided to choose linen for the shoe’s material.

“The concept is linen uses like one tenth of the amount of water that cotton does and it grows in our climate,” he said. “So it’s material that could and should really be made here in Canada.

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