With the future shoe production in mind, I wanted to have a better understanding of when a shoe is considered to be sustainable. Before I started to dig into this topic I had some assumptions. The images of ugly and very expensive shoes occurred to me. However, during my research I found out that I had to revise my opinion. Sustainable production is important for the future, and fortunately the amount of people who demand to know how their fashion is made is growing!
Sustainable shoes are being produced with consideration of health, people and planet. The shoes are made of eco-friendly or recycled materials, by people that work under good conditions for a fair wage. Designers design sustainable shoes to be durable and comfortable, and they make smart material choices to enable the shoe to be recyclable or biodegradable at the end of its life.
Reducing environmental footprints
Brands, like Veja, Makerszoon, TOM’s Shoes, El Naturalista, Linkkens, Think!, Beyond Skin and Nike show the care about sustainability. They use recycled materials like ocean plastics, or vegetable tanned leather. Some brands donate a pair of shoes or plant a tree for every pair you buy to reduce their environmental footprint.
To make a sustainable product, the entire process starting from the development of materials, the manufacturing and even shipping needs to be taken care of. A lot of brands claim to be sustainable and have a great marketing story on their corporate website, but the actual process is not always transparent to the consumer. There’s more to a shoe than meets the eye!
I believe that within 10 years most brands will provide consumers the possibility to buy custom designed sustainable shoes, made with new modern techniques. That way consumers will be able to get exactly what they want, while production waste will be reduced to a minimum.
In my next blogs I will continue my research for sustainable materials and techniques.
BLOG BY Manuela Boers di Maio
1) Linkkens (Capolavori): sneakers made out of plastic bottles
2) Makerszoon: sustainable footwear with a very low environmental impact
3) TOM’s philosophy: ‘one for one’
4) El Naturalista: recycled rubber outsole