THE UT.LAB will be establishing their American operations in Downtown Las Vegas. In 2010, the technology-driven footwear company asked him to jump onboard as global partner, so he slipped on a pair of THE UT.LAB prototypes to see how they’d fare at general business and startup meetings. The result? Constanty found himself wearing a pair of “impossibly light” and durable shoes that elicited positive feedback from passersby.
Token Hu, founder, designer and CEO of THE UT.LAB, came up with the idea for the footwear after working with DuPont’s paper-like Tyvek, a synthetic fiber commonly used in car covers, lab coats and housing insulation. After testing more than 500 pairs, THE UT.LAB’s creative team has developed a breathable, sustainable, 150-gram shoe with remarkable strength-to-weight ratio and urban-chic style. A brand-new pair starts out smooth, but “the creases and wrinkles that develop on the shoes as you wear them add more of a design element over time,” Constanty says. “You can even put them in the washing machine and dryer and they’re fine.”
A University of Pittsburgh alumnus, the 34-year-old Constanty worked in tech startups for eight years. But fueled by THE UT.LAB’s passion and creativity, he embraced the world of urban footwear, deciding on Downtown for the Shanghai brand’s U.S. operations. “I’d been following what Tony Hsieh and the Downtown Project had been doing even before I started with UT.LAB. I was amazed to see what private groups of individuals were doing in this city,” Constanty says. “So as THE UT.LAB project came to fruition, it was Las Vegas that came to mind for expansion. I now spend 50 percent of [my] time in Downtown Las Vegas managing [North American] business development. I want to be a part of the good, sustainable growth I see here.”
As a part of THE UT.LAB’S larger mission to empower youth through access to great education, Constanty is working with educational nonprofit Teach for America Las Vegas Valley. THE UT.LAB has teamed up with 16 TFA teachers who have more than 1,000 students submitting science-inspired shoe designs for THE UT.LAB’s Light Wing Trainer series. Out of the design submissions, THE UT.LAB will choose one to be crowdfunded on indiegogo.com this summer. All profits from the Indiegogo campaign will go straight to Teach for America Las Vegas Valley.
“I’m excited for the kids to see their ideas go from concept to a real-world product for sale, hopefully inspiring future ‘makers,’ ” Constanty says.
Online sales launch today at theutlab.com, where you can order a pair of shoes starting at $68. For those who prefer brick-and-mortar shopping, visit the store opening this summer in Downtown’s Container Park.