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Ethically produced and sustainably made, meet the next-gen of feel-good sneakers
Whether you’re hitting the gym, the streets or the great outdoors, sneakers are a wardrobe staple that most of us can’t live without. But they’ve also had a bad wrap in the sweat shop department – until now. A slew of ethically produced trainers are making their way into the mainstream, some from brands you’ve probably never head of and others from the big players that are now turning their attention to sustainable practices. If you want to tread lightly (and be on trend), look no further.
Adidas have a host of sustainable initiatives currently in play, like their upcycled marine plastic waste initiative, Parley Ultraboost as well as Stella McCartney vegan Stan Smiths. The streetwear favourite rates well in terms of ethical production, transparency and sustainable initiatives, plus, they’re a tried and tested favourite almost guaranteeing #30wears.
These ethically made sneakers have basically broken the internet thanks to their cool minimalist design and celeb following. They’re made in Brazil from sustainably-sourced rubber, vegetable-tanned leather, organic cotton and uppers made from recycled bottles. Workers and suppliers are paid above minimum wage and work under ethical conditions. They can feel a little stiff at first but soften nicely after a few wears.
After two years in development and a successful Kickstarter campaign, Saola launched into the scene with their versatile highand low-top Cannon and Atacama sneakers. The uppers are made from recycled PET, the insoles and outsoles from algae foam, and the laces from organic cotton. Not only are they kind to the planet they’re affordable too.
Described as “the world’s most comfortable shoe”, All Birds are all about simplistic design. There’s no flashy logos here, just great shoes made from natural fibres like Merino wool, eucalyptus tree fibres and sugar cane. They also offer a 30-day return period, so if you don’t love them after a month you can return them, no questions asked.
Getting back to nature is at the core of Vivobarefoot. Its design philosophy is centred around sensory experience – we have over 200,000 nerve endings in our feet and letting our feet, well, be feet like our ancestors. Plus, each pair is made from 17 recycled bottles. They’re designed to last but if you do manage to wear them out they have a refurbishing program that’ll have you back hiking, jogging or just getting about in your everyday life in no time.
While Nike has built its reputation on a fast fashion model there are certain areas where the retail giant is working on sustainability. Around 75 per cent of its products are made using recycled materials and its Flyleather Cortez – made from 50 per cent reclaimed leather fibres – was created to reduce its leather waste and environmental footprint. That being said, some believe it’s still not enough, with Good On You raising some concern around its transparency and labour practices.
Earlier this year Reebok announced their latest eco offering, a shoe made from organic cotton, corn-based rubber sole and and an insole made from castor bean oil. It’s a USDA 100 per cent certified bio-based product but sadly, it’s too late to get your hands on a pair as they’re currently sold out. Watch this space.
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