For several seasons now, sustainable labels have been absolutely on the rise. This is also in line with the increasing demand for ecological and socially responsible brands. Although the change in consumer behavior is still taking place slowly, topics such as the climate crisis and now also the Corona pandemic have led to consumers in some cases taking an even more critical look at fashion.
The results of a recently published study by McKinsey & Company, in which more than 1,000 fashion consumers in Germany and more than 1,000 fashion buyers in the UK were surveyed, show that German consumers are planning to buy more durable fashion items in the future and want to repair them more often. Three-quarters of those surveyed said that they would like to use fashion items for longer and throw them away less quickly. Younger consumers also have a greater interest in buying secondhand items.
The consumer portal for sustainable consumption also surveyed more than 14,400 people online in autumn 2019 for a study (Utopia Study 2019) on sustainability, consumption and social change. In the area of fashion consumption, it was shown that sustainability requirements are among the top three demands on clothing. First and foremost, conscious consumers want to feel comfortable in it, but then it follows that it should be produced fairly and ecologically. Availability remains the main key to promoting the purchase of sustainable clothing. The desire for better orientation through labels has increased since 2017 as a desired incentive to buy, as has the need for more information.
The lack of transparency of the supply chain is repeatedly denounced as a major problem of the industry. The most frequently mentioned requests for improvement relate to the credibility and transparency of manufacturers. Observance of environmental and social standards, better style (desired above all by those who like to experiment), more recycling offers and the longevity of the products follow in the next places.
All these developments show that the demand for sustainable products is far from satisfied. Above all, sustainable sneaker labels are now trying to establish themselves. In view of the fact that the sneaker business is growing from year to year, this is absolutely understandable. According to a 2019 study by Statista Consumer Outlook, global sneaker sales last year amounted to around €62 billion. Compared to 2012, this is an increase of over 100%. Worldwide, around 1.3 billion sneakers are currently sold over the counter. And according to Statista forecasts, the market will continue to grow in the coming years. In 2020, sales will almost stagnate due to the pandemic. From 2021, however, they will pick up again significantly.
So, if you are still looking for a sustainable sneaker brand or a eco-sneaker for your assortment, we have some suggestions of upcoming eco sneaker brands you should have a look at. Incidentally, established shoe brands have also taken the green path and, in addition to conventional shoe models, are also bringing environmentally sustainable ones onto the market. We have put together a selection for you:
Nicolas Lavigna, Antoine Bodart and Arnaud Vanderplancke are the cofounders of Norm. All of three have been active in the shoe industry for a decade and it was the dream of the three Belgians to create a sustainable and transparent sneaker label. Their goal: to develop a holistic concept and rethink the codes of a market they know. After 18 months of development and research, Norm was born in 2018.
Minimalist design, advanced technology, local production and recycled materials–all these aspects are important to Norm. According to the brand the knit yarn is made from recycled plastic bottles. The rubber soles are made of 70% recycled rubber, 30% fair-trade natural rubber and are 100% recyclable. The upper part of the sneaker is made out of one single piece thanks to the knitting technology. This reduces the material waste by 65%. The sneakers are made from 90% recycled materials. A needle and thread is enough to repair the upper of the sneakers. To reduce their carbon footprint, Norm selected components exclusively from Europe. The sneakers are made in Portugal, the manufacturers and suppliers are all ethical and work from Europe. Norm also partnered up with NGO Seed for Life. For each pair of sneakers, two trees are planted. The sneaker collection is unisex and ranges from size 36 to 47. The retail price for the sneaker is €160.
Sustainable sneaker brand Worn was founded in April 2019. Flávio Silva stands behind the brand. What started as a project by Silva, who is a graphic designer and art teacher, grew into a label with a small team. The 35-year-old Portuguese has a weak spot for classic, simple sneaker designs, so it comes as no surprise that all Worn sneaker models have a vintage look from the ’60s and ’70s.
The sneakers are made with recycled cotton and bio leather that according to Silva is a material that is not provided from animal resources. These materials do not use chromium for tanning and they are PETA approved. The soles of the sneaker are made with recycled materials. All sneakers are made in Portugal and cost €85.
Besides that, Worn offers its customers three services: Every customer who purchase a pair of Worns receives a code via mail to unlock the app on the Worn website. Once the app is unlocked the customer can place any text in the app, which uses an advanced machine learning technology. The app will then generate an exclusive word/name related to the message. The customer can choose to use that word to be printed on his pair of sneakers or pick his own word.
Worn also offers a recycling service. After a Worn shoe ends its life cycle, consumers can send them back and Worn will send the shoes to the recycling company. Worn covers the expanses for the return. A 10% discount is offered if the customer wants to buy a new pair. In addition the sustainable sneaker brand offers a customized repair service.
Re/Ash is the first eco-friendly shoe collection from well-known shoe brand Ash. The collection features three styles with sustainable and eco-friendly materials such as recycled leather, recycled polyester, bio-polyol, corn starch, metal-free leather and chrome-free leather. According to Ash many of these raw materials have been independently tested or certified by international bodies including GRS, LWG (Leather Working Group) and Oeko-Tex. French shoe designer Patrick Ithier and Italian entrepreneur Leonello Calvani founded Ash in 2000. Today, the brand has expanded its portfolio to include other categories such as men’s, ready-to-wear, handbags and accessories. Ash is distributed at over 600 POS and 200 brand stores.
David Python and Fernando Porto are bound by their love for boardsports and their home country Brazil. They left their corporate jobs and decided to create a sustainable sneaker label. In 2018 Cariuma was born. Responsible sourcing, maintain ethical factories, employ a strict code of conduct and support eco-friendly organizations – these are the main pillars of the sustainable sneaker brand.
43% of Cariuma products are 100% vegan. According to the company Cariuma is committed to increase their vegan products to over 50% by 2021. The vast majority of plastics used for the upper, laces, labels and threads are derived from recycled plastic bottles. The recycled PET is certified by Global Recycled Standard. Leather and suede are sourced from Argentina, Thailand, Brazil, and China and are certified by Leather Working Group. The founders emphasize that none of their premium materials are sourced from the Amazon or any area deforested for cattle-farming purposes.
Other sustainable materials that Cariuma uses include cork, mamona oil, organic cotton, sugarcane, bamboo and natural rubber. Python and Porto indicate that they have 100% traceability into their footwear manufacturer. 85% traceability into their raw material processors, mills, knitting, packaging, outsole factory and components in general and 59% traceability into their yarns, polymers and chips. Cariuma offers five different sneaker styles for women and men. Sales prices start at 68 EUR.
The Munich luxury brand MCM is launching its first sustainable sneaker called " Terrain Lo " for the autumn/winter season 2020/21. The sneaker is made of calfskin, which was developed from a specially developed, metal-free tanning process, organic cotton, natural cork and recycled rubber. The selling price is €450.
In the upcoming autumn/winter collection 2020/21 French label Veja launches a new sneaker model called Urca. The shoe is made of Corn Waste Leather (C.W.L.). Veja is thus expanding its range of vegan sneakers. CWL is an alternative to leather, where cotton is treated with a coating derived from corn. The laces are made of 100% organic cotton. The simple model costs 130 euros and is available in sizes 35 to 47 in five different styles.