November 10, 2020

Sneaker production alone makes up 56 per cent of the global greenhouse gas emissions from global air travel, which is a cause for concern from an environmental standpoint. With the sustainability movement gaining momentum in recent years, the top footwear brands have to get on board to stay relevant in today’s climate. Nike’s new VaporMax is made of 50 per cent recycled materials, while Adidas has pledged to use 100 per cent recycled polyester by 2024. If you are looking for more options aside from the big boys, these five noteworthy brands are paving the way for more eco-friendly production methods. 


Eddie Redmayne and the Duchess of Sussex are fans of this French footwear company. Which is why Rick Owens has chosen to collaborate again with Veja to debut its first-ever natural cork sole on the Runner Style 2, while the Runner Style Mid, a high-top sock, comprises 54 per cent bio-sourced materials.   


Recognising the potential of Ethiopian craftsmanship, founder Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu set out to raise their living standards by founding SoleRebels—sustainable sneakers that are handcrafted from recycled car tires, organic cotton and pure Abyssinian Koba. Eco-warriors will also be delighted to know that the company is practically carbon-free, pledges against outsourced manufacturing, and offers medical benefits, education funds and wages three times the industry average. 


Customers are often wary of companies that engage in greenwashing, but Womsh quashes any speculations. Their latest Snik sneakers—a love child between Stan Smiths and Golden Goose—are made with Appleskin leather and recycled materials. With a deep appreciation for the planet and its living beings, the Italian company even has wordings such as “choose the change” and “made with respect” on their shoes.  


What others saw as trash, Javier Goyeneche saw as treasure. Overwhelmed by the tonnes of waste generated by the fashion industry, Goyeneche started his own conscious brand Ecoalf that works with recycled materials. Aesthetics-wise, their shoes range from high-top trainers to snow quilted boots. For each pair you buy, you’ll be supporting Ecoalf’s efforts in cleaning up discarded water bottles and fishing nets from the ocean.


Etiko’s high-top and low-cut sneakers may look quite similar to a pair of Chuck Taylors but what truly matters is how the brand utilises GOTS-certified organic cotton, natural latex rubber, vegan glue and non-toxic dyes to produce durable shoes. If you wear them out, you can easily recycle them through Etiko’s Take Back Program.

Image Credits: Veja, SoleRebel, Womsh, EcoAlf, Etiko