WORDS BY NATALIE YIASSOUMI
We round up the most sustainable shoes, brands and causes worth supporting.
IMAGE: INSTAGRAM @STELLAMCCARTNEY
For everyone engaging in the fashion industry: If we don’t use this time to pause and make conscious changes, it will be a disservice.” – Stella McCartney.
Every day is Earth Day: This is the message Stella McCartney, one of fashion’s most powerful sustainability advocates, sent out this morning, alongside a striking portrait of a woman whose face had been painted with a satellite image of the Earth.
Today marks the 50th anniversary of what has come to be known as Earth Day, a celebration of the natural world and Mother Earth and this year the day is taking a whole new meaning. Amidst the pain and losses of the COVID-19 crisis, the planet has been given a chance to recover, while we have been handed the opportunity to press pause and re-evaluate our lifestyles and consumption habits.
“This moment in time will be a geography lesson for our children, it’s shown us how powerful nature is,” said McCartney during a live Zoom call with Vogue U.S. “For everyone engaging in the fashion industry: If we don’t use this time to pause and make conscious changes, it will be a disservice.”
To that end, it’s important to follow McCartney’s lead, come together and contribute to changing the fashion eco-system: It could be buying into a lesser-known designer if you have disposable income; selling a pair of shoes you no longer wear on Vestiaire Collective, or simply thinking twice about your next purchase.
The footwear world is among the most challenging areas when it comes to sustainability: Creating a shoe involves more than 20 components, double that of any other product, so the number of truly sustainable options is more limited or centred around sneakers and woven flats. It might not sound so appealing for shoe lovers with a flair for bold, statement heels – and we most certainly understand where you’re coming from. Nevertheless, with a little extra research and the right dose of motivation you can start making sustainable choices in your shoe wardrobe too, without sacrificing style.
Here, we bring you some of the trendiest sustainable options, the brands and causes worth championing, today and every day:
IMAGE: INSTAGRAM @BROTHERVELLIES
Brother Vellies: Brother Vellies creative director Aurora James has always had artisanal craft at the heart of her brand and during this challenging time, she’s been finding new ways to support the brand’s community of craftsmen, by expanding her offer to new comfort products from Oaxacan mugs to cozy “cloud socks,” all produced by hand by the brand’s team of artisans. As of this week, the designer is offering customers the ability to sign up to be part of the Brother Vellies family and receive a handmade, comfort product every month. The aim? To bring a dose of joy to our homes and keep the brand’s artisanal community going during this time.
Luxury can no longer be represented solely by a price point, it must be represented by process,” wrote James.
Salvatore Ferragamo: The heritage Italian shoe label has updated its classic espadrilles with a new sustainable suede it developed, dubbed ‘Evolo.’ To coincide with Earth Day, the brand has also made its ‘Sustainable Thinking’ exhibition, which highlights the brand’s history with using recycled materials, available online. While the Ferragamo museum in Florence remains shut, take a virtual tour and discover the label’s sustainable styles through the years, from a pair of cork heel mules from the Forties to a more recent pair of thigh-high boots made out of fish nets.
Jimmy Choo: Jimmy Choo made some big commitments today, just in time for Earth Day, alongside its parent company Capri Holdings which also owns Versace and Michael Kors. The British shoe label has announced its aim to be completely carbon neutral by 2025 and use 100% renewable energy in all its direct operations. In the next half a decade the company will also be moving towards using 100% recycled plastic in its packaging, sourcing at least 95% of its leather from certified sources and making its supply chain more transparent, which includes ensuring that manufacturers pay fair wages for workers. In other words, you can now buy into your favourite Choo style, knowing that there is a sense of responsibility and consciousness behind the scenes.
Mother of Pearl: Over three years ago, Amy Powney embarked on an ambitious sustainability journey with Mother of Pearl. She said goodbye to the catwalk in favour of smaller, see-now-buy-now collections and transformed the brand’s supply chain to favour organic materials and more localised production. She’s learnt a lot in the process and today she is taking her mission to a broader audience, with the launch of a collaboration with British retailer John Lewis – the “first sustainable collection on the British high street.” The range also includes two pairs of mules featuring sustainably-sourced leather and cool, pearl-shaped heels.
Powney has also launched an Instagram campaign called ‘Fashion Our Future’ where alongside friends such as Jameela Jamil, Alexa Chung, Adwoa Aboah and Arizona Muse, she is encouraging her followers to make a pledge about how they want to change their consumptions of fashion to help save the planet. Model Ambera Valetta pledged to curate her wardrobe and keep re-wearing key pieces; Muse pledged to rent more than she buys; what will you be committing to?
IMAGE COURTESY OF MOTHER OF PEARL.
IMAGE COURTESY OF RUPERT SANDERSON.
Rupert Sanderson: The British shoe designer unveiled a new partnership with the environmental organisation We Forest, whereby for every shoe sold on his London store and e-commerce platform his namesake brand will fund the growth of one tree.
There seems a simple logic to ‘a pair for a tree’: We can watch as our contributions grow, knowing that we are taking steps to balance out our carbon footprint. Becoming more sustainable as a company is an ongoing process,” said Sanderson.
Alighieri: Did you know that the beloved jewellery brand Alighieri has also been dabbling in shoes? Designer Rosh Mahtani made her first foray into shoes last year with a pair of lace-up espadrilles and made a point to championing local craft when deciding how to produce them, commissioning a family-owned factory in Spain to create her first collection – the same that produced Salvador Dali’s espadrilles.
Alighieri’s localized approach to production is highlighted in Vestiaire Collective’s ‘Earth Day’ campaign, while the shoe collection – which has since grown to include jewel-encrusted mules, sandals and kitten heels – is available to purchase on the brand’s website, with 20 percent of the profits donated to charity.
Aera: Aera is a new name to know that blends a classic luxury approach to footwear with sustainability. All its shoes feature staples such as strappy sandals, block-heel boots and pumps hand-crafted in Italy’s Veneto area, using all-vegan materials: A stiletto sandal featuring colourful python prints is among the highlights. The brand also ensures to carbon offset its environmental impact by an impressive 110 percent.
Luxury is not a new pair of shoes. Luxury is clean water and fresh air. It’s not about how much you have, but how much you give back. It’s considering people and the planet when making product,” said the brand.
IMAGE INSTAGRAM: @AERANEWYORK
IMAGE: INSTAGRAM @NOMASEI_OFFICIAL
Nomasei: Nomasei is another new kid on the block to keep an eye out for, for both its ambitious sustainability commitments and flair for cool, modernist shapes. The brand manufactures its products entirely in Tuscany to reduce its carbon footprint and the need to ship different parts around the world and creates its own packaging using recycled cardboard, paper and biodegradable plastic. Today, to celebrate the planet it has also announced plans to donate a portion of its sales proceeds to the organisation 1% for the Planet. It will also be opening a new sustainable manufacturing facility featuring LED lighting, a rainwater recovery system and more.
In everyday life we like to laugh, a lot and about pretty much everything. But when it comes to Nomasei’s values we get very serious. Because we created Nomasei to renew with the essence of our profession.”
– Nomasei’s designers Paule and Marine stated.
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