Good for the Sole: Shoes With a Purpose
This Spanish brand is aware of the ecological issues that the fashion industry contributes to as the second most polluting – and non-transparent – industry in existence. Committed to safeguarding animal rights and good working conditions, Flamingos Life proposes a wide array of entirely vegan shoes, produced by craftspeople working in the best labor conditions. Corn waste, bamboo, and organic cotton are the materials used to produce each of their shoes, which replace three of the most traditional and unethical materials used by the industry: plastic, leather, and conventional cotton. Moreover, each sneaker collection is aligned with an ecological project. Purchase a pair from the RETRO 90s or the OLD 80s collections to assist with the construction of water wells in remote areas of Uganda, or one of the Classic 70s or Rancho V.3s to contribute to the reforestation of rural areas in Mozambique and Madagascar – two countries with the most unique ecosystems in the world and both seriously endangered by human activity. Thanks to this project, the brand has planted more than 200,000 trees so far.
This Spanish brand is committed to fighting deforestation by planting two trees for every pair of shoes purchased,working to restore forests in the most needed areas of our planet. Additionally, SAYE’s projects in India and Zambia work with forest-dependent local communities to provide them with tools to develop their livelihoods and training on how to regenerate and protect the forest.
All of the brand’s shoes are vegan and produced with incredibly unique materials. The Modelo ’89 Vegan Apple, for example, is entirely made from apple waste from the food industry. The Modelo ’89 Vegan Mango, in turn, is entirely made from recycled discarded fruits. Other materials used by the brand include organic cotton, recycled rubber, vegan napa, and recycled insoles.
Furthermore, SAYE is a leader in diversity and gender equity within the industry. Thirty-nine percent of the company’s employees were born outside of Spain, and 69% of its employees are women. Overall, 64% of the women employed at SAYE occupy high positions within the company.
Founded in 2005 in Australia, Etiko was one of the first brands involved in the sustainable shoe industry. The company has received numerous awards which prove their social and environmental commitments, such as the Forest Stewardship Council’s Responsible Forest Management Award in 2008, and the Business Category award at the Human Rights Awards in 2016 (first fashion brand to win). Impressively, the brand is currently on track to achieve net-zero emissions across its entire supply chain. Etiko embraces a vegan model, where 95% of their products are also created with organic textiles, fibers, and yarns, which meet the Global Organic Textile Standards. The brand avoids the use of plastic wherever possible and implements biodegradable and compostable plastic when absolutely needed. The brand is also accredited by Fairtrade, which means that they grant a fair and living wage to the farmers and workers throughout its supply chain.
Ethletic’s story starts with a soccer ball. In 1998, the brand’s creators were determined to develop the first fairly manufactured soccer ball in the world, and they did it. It was 2004 when the brand landed in the fashion industry by producing the first pair of shoes in the world to be certified with the Fairtrade seal for fairly traded organic cotton. All of Ethletic’s products are shipped by sea to avoid air transport and significantly reduce the brand’s carbon footprint. Materials used in the production of its shoes include organic cotton and natural rubber. Organic cotton is acquired from producers at a fixed price, and for any quantity of product purchased, the brand also transfers bonus funds dedicated to educational and health projects in productive areas. The brand also allows customers to tip producers in Pakistan whenever purchasing their shoes.
While countless brands produce their items in Italy, few of them do so sustainably. NOAH is a German brand founded in 2009, and all its shoes are handcrafted in Italy. While it started off as a shoe brand, NOAH eventually expanded production to bags, belts, wallets, and hats. The company is the recipient of a long list of awards, including the PETA-Germany and the PETA-UK awards, and prides itself on being cruelty-free. The brand is also one of the most sustainable in the industry due to its use of exclusively recycled and recyclable materials. Last year, the brand embarked on a partnership with Tree-Nation to plant a tree for each order placed on their website.