When it comes to our relationship with shoes, it's a love story meant to last. We collect them. We sell them. We dream of our next pair. Whether they’re luxury shoes or basic sneakers, the perfect footwear reflects your personality and occupies a special place in your wardrobe. But the fashion industry is now faced with an ecological emergency, and thankfully, many brands are becoming increasingly aware of its harmful effects on the environment.
The production of shoes poses a threat to our planet by releasing chemicals and toxins into the atmosphere. It also dramatically impacts global warming due to the carbon dioxide released during manufacturing and transportation. The solution? Consume less but better by choosing sustainable and ethical styles. Learn more about the eco-friendly brands to watch right now. Just like Vestiaire Collective, they believe in respecting our planet instead of treating it like it’s disposable.
We are sad to reveal that the list of negative effects tied to conventional shoe production is long and often includes pollution, non-biodegradable materials, miserable working conditions, and leather dyed with heavy metals. This depressing fact has awakened a desire among many brands to take action by moving towards more sustainable and environmentally friendly materials and practices. For a while, it seemed as if new shoe designers were popping up every week, filling the market with quickly made, cheap shoes. Although progress has been slow, forward-thinkers have begun to realize it is critical to change the way we consume and manufacture. This transition has accelerated and spread over time in response to increasing consumer demand. We are now witnessing the success of sustainable, ethical, and responsible brands growing alongside the biggest names in fashion and athletics.
Can you believe that an average of 602 pairs of shoes are purchased every second of the year around the world? This statistic gives you an idea of how many will eventually end up in landfills. There are many steps you can take to prevent this harmful consequence while still adding to style your shoe collection.
The first step is avoiding leather and opting for vegan leather. Many materials are in testing to replace the classic leather, such as corn, cactus, pineapple, or apple leather. Tanning the leather is another concern, as it is common to use chemicals and considerable amounts of water during the complex process. Opting for vegetable tanning using vegetable dyes or tree bark is a more sustainable solution. Shoe soles can also be made from recycled materials and an exciting technology can now transform non-biodegradable car tires and plastic bottles into solid soles instead of accumulating in landfills.
In short: more environmentally friendly and sustainable shoes exist, and they are just as resistant and desirable as the styles we are accustomed to.
Have you ever thought about the carbon footprint of the shoes on your feet? According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the total carbon emissions of a pair of leather sneakers averages 18kg, compared to only 5kg for a pair of organic cotton shoes. One significant obstacle to sustainability is that footwear is a complex accessory, making recycling them more complicated than it is for clothing, for example. Many different elements go into a shoe: soles, laces, eyelets, lining, and all these different elements often come from all over the world. It is also important to consider that the shoe itself is often manufactured on the other side of the planet from where the materials originated.
All of these factors contribute to making shoes a pollution-heavy fashion item. So what can we do to improve the outlook for the planet? We can start by choosing materials that cause less pollution, such as organic cotton or recycled plastic from the oceans. We can then buy locally produced shoes and have them repaired when they show signs of wear. Another obvious and simple option is to resell them to give them a second life and buy your next pair of shoes second-hand on Vestiaire Collective.
Wearing second-hand pieces is the best way to make a positive choice for the environment. It is now possible to change your way of consuming by making more responsible fashion decisions and slowing down your own approach to the fast fashion cycle. The best part of shopping and selling second-hand is that you can curate your wardrobe guilt-free. It's simple: once you invest in a new pair of shoes, you can sell another pair that no longer fits or you no longer wear. Now you are participating in fashion's circular economy, meaning less waste and less pollution associated with manufacturing a new piece.
We all love sneakers, and they are key to our wardrobes. But with 34 million pairs of sneakers made every day, they clearly pollute much more than we can even imagine. With this fact becoming more widely known, it's not surprising that brands are starting to create eco-friendly and ethical shoes for men and women.
Veja was one of the first brands to reform how footwear is manufactured and is now one of the industry's most successful environmentally conscious labels. The committed French brand was founded in 2005 by François-Ghislain Morillion and Sébastien Kopp, offering casual, trendy sneakers at reasonable prices, and sold in over 20 countries. The brand's devotees include Meghan Markle, Emily Ratajkowski, and French President Emmanuel Macron.
Veja’s production process is based on fair trade and they craft their shoes from organic cotton in the south of Brazil. The two founders are constantly looking to innovate and recently started offering an exciting sustainable fabric called b-mesh, which is made from recycled plastic bottles. The natural rubber of the soles comes from the Amazonian rainforest. Veja is fighting against deforestation and irresponsible practices by valuing the work of rubber extractors and paying them fairly.
The sneakers are assembled in cooperatives that respect the fundamental rights of the workers. Veja offers complete transparency in their production, an approach we can all get behind.
A rare strategy in the digital era, Veja does not invest any money in advertising, allowing them to design sneakers with higher quality materials while still offering consumers a reasonable price. Their models are known to cost 5x more to manufacture than their competitors. Veja also has a large following for their men's shoes. We especially love The Condor, a technical running shoe that is 100% eco-friendly and vegan. Veja also offers its customers the opportunity to drop off old sneakers in recycling boxes installed in their shops — a major draw for the committed Fashion Activist.
Women-owned SoleRebels was founded in Ethiopia in 2004 by Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu. The successful African label creates footwear made from recycled materials, including sailing shoes, moccasins, sandals, and lace-up sneakers. The brand's signature is the traditional 'barabasso,' an Ethiopian recycled tire shoe. Other materials include organic cotton, Abyssinian jute, free-range and sustainable leather, and Koba fibre, a durable and robust indigenous plant that requires little water to grow.
SoleRebels are a year-round, comfy, casual shoe for both men and women. The name SoleRebels is inspired by the ancient shape of traditional Ethiopian shoes and those worn by rebel fighters against Italian forces attempting to colonise their country. The company employs artisans who hand-cut the soles of the shoes, creating many jobs in the region. They combine traditional craftsmanship with local raw materials and follow the latest fashion trends while offering free shipping to over 20 countries, effectively conquering the world of green fashion. The company has even started building a factory using solar panels. They’re eco-friendly to the core.
The committed brand has also decided to source all of its materials exclusively from a growing number of local suppliers in Ethiopia. The reason is simple: importing them by plane or boat leads to a much higher carbon footprint. The icing on the cake? SoleRebels uses recycled shipping boxes or the upcycled clothes of Ethiopian soldiers to package its creations.
It's hard not to find inspiration in this ethical brand. Follow in their footsteps by consuming fashion in a whole new way and encourage those around you to become a Fashion Activist just like you. If we all work together, we can avoid the environmental damage linked to textile production. Vestiaire Collective joined the movement in 2009. Are you with us?
Stacey Chang decided to create her own shoe brand to fill the void for eco-friendly yet attractive, comfortable and versatile pumps to wear to the office. Veerah, meaning "warrior" in Sanskrit, launched in 2016 with wearable vegan styles for those who live life at 100 miles an hour. Inspired by her own experience as a businesswoman travelling with a small carry-on suitcase that could only hold one pair of shoes, she came up with the idea of designing models with interchangeable accessories. The result is a stylish shoe that can be adapted to fit many different looks, thanks to small but memorable details that make a huge difference. When you think about it, it's genius.
Many footwear options can transform your whole appearance in a second: chic tassels, precious brooches, oversized bows, glittering or fringed straps. Each accessory adapts to a different occasion, adding that final touch to any outfit, whether it’s for a business meeting, a drink with friends, or even a wedding.
Veerah shoes are available in flat and high heel versions, boots and sandals; they adapt to all personalities with their modern and sophisticated look. The entire collection is crafted from natural and recycled materials, such as cork, peels from apples that are hand-picked in Italy and even plastic bottles.
Not only is Veerah committed to the future of fashion by supporting sustainable practices, but the brand also supports the non-profit organisation "She's the First," a scholarship programme for young girls that works towards gender equality through education. Bound to be with us for years to come, Veerah is an eco-friendly and versatile shoe brand that is one to watch
Have you given in to the desire for sustainable shoes? With this guide handy, we're sure it won't be long before you do. There are so many wonderful choices out there when it comes to determining the right eco-conscious brand for you. However, eco brands aren't the only option. We can also respect the planet by shopping second-hand and vintage women's shoes.
Here at Vestiaire Collective, we’ve noticed a major shift in the fashion mentality lately. More and more Fashion Activists are now concerned about how their clothes and accessories were made. In response to the demand, brands are showing a more substantial commitment to eco-friendly practices. Ethical fashion is up against some alarming but very real issues, like toxic chemicals used during manufacturing, CO2 emissions, clothes ending up in landfills, and substandard working conditions. Avoiding overconsumption is our first step in the fight for our planet. Turning to sustainable fashion allows you to reduce your environmental impact by buying better but less. At Vestiaire Collective, we call this slow fashion, and we are passionate activists. The future of our planet is in our hands.