These sneaker brands strike the perfect balance between sustainability and stylishness
Since terms of sustainability, fairness, and cruelty-free have come to public attention—that the very items we consume and purchase play a part in our world’s overall environmental degradation—we’ve come to realize that by simply choosing better alternatives, we too in our way can help in slowing down or completely reversing this process.
Unfortunately, despite the existence of such alternatives, these have yet to fully penetrate the mainstream market which is currently dominated by brand staples we all know and probably have in our closets. After all, they are tried and tested. It would be quite difficult to sway consumers into changing their purchasing habits—particularly concerning items they would use every day—for a smaller brand that utilizes unfamiliar materials and production techniques.
Now, what if there were alternatives that could also stand up to and even surpass those we’ve grown familiar with? Here are five sustainable sneaker brands to keep an eye out for.
Ethletic was born out of a vision by founders James Lloyd and Dr. Martin Kunz, in 1998, to manufacture the world’s first fairly manufactured soccer balls—using natural rubber sourced from Sri Lanka.
Since transitioning to crafting sneakers, the brand has also utilized this natural rubber, alongside Fairtrade cotton and natural vegan leather in making their sustainable footwear. PETA also awarded Ethletic its “Vegan Approved” seal. Further championing sustainability and bringing it beyond their manufacturing process, the brand in 2019, also collaborated with Sneaker Rescue, allowing customers to restore and repair their purchased Ethletic trainers.
Italy-based Womsh utilizes non-toxic raw materials and limits their hazardous emissions for the production of Bianca, their metal-free tanned leather. This is in contrast to more traditional tanning methods which utilize various harmful chemicals such as mineral salts, formaldehyde, and coal-tar derivatives, which are harmful not only to the environment but to the workers themselves. Womsh also makes use of Apple skin, something that is normally treated as food waste, as an alternative leather imitation for their sneakers.
Prevalent sneaker brands will never go away—at least not yet—that’s just the way it is. However, that doesn’t mean that you, as a consumer, have to remain ensnared in this endless purchasing cycle. Owning an out-of-date design no longer necessitates an immediate purchase of what’s latest. Now, what once was an easily replaceable product can be reused, repurposed, and improved in such a manner that is not only environmentally helpful but stylish as well.
PETERSON STOOP is a footwear re-design company founded by Jelske Peterson and Jarah Stoop, that was founded for the sole purpose of “offering a fresh lease of life to shoes.” The brand employs a technique named the Circle Welt™, which involves wrapping a strip of leather around a shoe’s upper portion and sewing it to the midsole, effectively repairing previously used sneakers. Beyond repair work, PETERSON STOOP, through its Patchwork collection, also deconstructs worn shoes in order to rebuild them as entirely different products.
Millions and billions of tons of food are wasted each year, whether this refers to unconsumed dishes and crops, or items that have been left unattended to rot. And due to recent developments in manufacturing and frankly a growing widespread open-mindedness, food waste we’ve gotten so used to simply throwing out can now be repurposed to make up the very shoes we wear.
ID.Eight, founded by Dong Seon Lee and Giuliana Borzillo, embraces the untapped potential of these once-purposeless byproducts. The brand utilizes Apple-skin (made in Italy and obtained from the bio-polymerization of apple peels and cores), Vegea (obtained from the bio-polymerization of pomace in Italy), Piñatex (Made in Spain using pineapple leaves from the Philippines), BioVeg (made from recycled PES and biopolyols from corn crops), and Lycra, mesh, polyester, and recycled cotton from Spain and Italy). They have refrained from using any animal-sourced materials, making each of their products cruelty-free and sustainable.
Sustainability according to The United Nations is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” In simpler terms, the concept merely refers to a rate of worldwide consumption that does not finish everything we have. That being said, sustainability is not only achieved through using food wastes and recyclables, it can also be accomplished through the creation of products that stand the test of both time and constant usage. In other words, a product made very well can be all that we need.
Lunge, based in Germany, puts a premium on quality and longevity. Their shoes make use of high-quality EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate), offering long-term cushioning and flexibility—as well as the ability to be resoled—allowing its repair and reuse rather than replacement. That being said, the brand, aside from the leather version of its Integer Walk Rebounds, uses only vegan materials and fabrics for its sneakers.
For more information about Lunge, you can visit their website.