From eco-friendly sneakers to vegan heels, here’s a list of five brands that Thred considers the best names in sustainable footwear right now.
With shoes being one of the most wasteful retail items to produce, it makes sense that footwear brands would want to start thinking more sustainably given our current climate crisis.
Alarmingly, out of the 23 billion pairs of shoes that are manufactured each year 300 million are thrown away. And, to make matters worse, it takes between three and four decades for them to completely decompose in a landfill as they’re often made of virgin plastic, rubber, and petroleum.
Although the booming shoe industry shows no signs of slowing down in the near future, as shoppers become increasingly aware of the environmental concerns associated with their shopping habits, several brands are starting to be more incentivised to offer eco-conscious alternatives.
‘Sustainability is an important theme in retail at the moment, so much so that younger consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable products,’ says sportswear retail expert, Matt Powell. ‘Brands have long been concerned about making products sustainably, but they’re being more forward and open about it now.’ Setting a new standard with their groundbreaking, innovative designs and use of recycled materials, here are five responsible brands well on their way to changing how the industry thinks.
This one might shock you. When you hear ‘Dr. Martens’ you might automatically think: ‘leather’ followed by ‘but that’s not sustainable! It’s not even vegan!’ Well, as is very clearly written in their manifesto: ‘at Dr. Martens we stand for doing the right thing, we always have, and always will.’
Holding true across all of their operations from the brand’s involvement with charity to its commitment to ethical trade, this statement also applies to its dedication to having as minimal an impact on the environment as possible.
In fact, it’s even a signatory of the Better Retail, Better World scheme which is an initiative for brands taking action against some of the biggest global challenges of the coming decade (one of which, of course, being climate change).
With products built to last — and last they do (seriously, I’ve been wearing the same pair for ever) — Dr. Martens has a lifetime warranty collection, an entire vegan range, and uses packaging made from 100% post-consumer waste.
It also aims to use sustainable materials as much as possible like recycled airbags, cork, and pineapple leather which can be found in a large majority of its products.
This French footwear label prioritises social responsibility, ethical sourcing, and transparency over anything else. The mavens of ethically produced trainers, Veja’s entire collection of stylish, environmentally friendly shoes is made from raw materials sourced from ecological agriculture without using chemicals or polluting processes.
‘For the last five years, Veja has used ‘fish leather’ from tilapia in our shoes,’ states the brand’s website. ‘Usually discarded by freshwater fish farms, the skin gets upcycled through a handcrafted process involving vegetable dyeing. We also buy all our rubber in the Amazon forest, directly from seringueiro communities. Since 2004, Veja has purchased 130 tons of wild rubber, preserving 120,000 hectares of the Amazon.’
Offering both vegan and sustainable leather options, its signature V-10 sneaker is lined with organic cotton, cork, and Pinatex then fitted onto a wild Amazonian rubber sole. Plus, proving that eco-friendly fashion has the ability to stand alongside some of the biggest names in luxury, Veja is regularly spotted on the front row of fashion weeks and has been worn by the likes of Meghan Markle, Emily Ratajkowski, and Chloe Grace Moritz (to name a few).