What shoe brands are doing internally to become more sustainable – Footwear News

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For shoe companies that have long embraced the idea of ​​being more carbon neutral, they are now taking the next steps to protect the planet even more – focusing internally.

Take Allbirds, for example, which now labels every product it makes with its carbon footprint measurement. The idea is to encourage the public to think more seriously about what goes into the clothes and shoes they wear, like the nutrition facts label from food producers.

The hope is that other companies will follow.

When it comes to impact, it’s clear that the choices humans make have long-term effects on the health of the planet. And when the novel coronavirus pandemic forced businesses to shut down across the world at the end of March, it became extremely clear that the fashion industry needs to be on the forefront of change.

And consumers are ready for the evolution.

A 2019 Nielsen study found that 81% of those polled “believe companies should help improve the environment.” The report further states that “Millennials, Gen Z and Gen X are the most supportive, but their older counterparts are not far behind.”
Some brands have made their commitments beyond 100% sustainability, depending on their materials, their offset purchases, the operation of their factories and the way they have set up their headquarters. Ultimately, having a net positive impact on the planet is a goal for many of these companies.

Timberland, owned by the VF Corp. brand, has been a leader in environmental stewardship for nearly two decades, for example. The brand has reduced its use of greenhouse gases by 50% and increased the use of renewable energy at its facilities, said Colleen Vien, director of sustainability at Timberland. By the end of 2019, the company had reached 68% of its goal of having all footwear include at least one material containing recycled, organic or renewable content.

“In the past, the main goal of sustainability was to source responsibly in a way that did not cause harm to people,” said Vien. “Now the opportunity is to go further and create a positive impact. It’s about giving back to the planet, instead of just changing it.

In Fall 2020, Timberland will launch a collection of leather boots sourced from Thousand Hills Lifetime Grazed Ranches. The leather for the collection will come from regenerating ranch hides as well as the use of recycled leather, and Timberland plans to expand this program over time.


A look at a regenerative Thousand Hills Lifetime Grazed ranch.

CREDIT: Courtesy of Timberland

“Regeneration is so exciting because it’s not just about minimizing pesticides,” Vien said. “It’s giving back to the soil the way cattle are raised and the way agricultural products are grown. “

Timberland, which also launched a campaign to plant 50 million trees during the
The next five years, in addition to the 10 million he has already planted, hopes to become net positive in the future.

A similar philosophy is also present in luxury.

For the 45-year-old Italian brand Santoni, its headquarters in Corridonia, Italy, is built from 90% recycled materials and runs entirely on energy recovered from solar panels at the top of its factory. At 170% of use, the panels produce more energy than the company actually consumes, and the excess is sold to the energy network.

In its latest product movement, Santoni will launch a capsule collection for women and men for fall ’20 called Rethink, consisting of shoes and a nylon backpack obtained from plastic recovered from marine litter, from eco-leather, recycled rubber, recycled metal and water. glue based.


Santoni Rethink sneakers

Santoni’s Rethink sneakers are made from marine litter.

CREDIT: Courtesy of Santoni

The new premium brand Aera, founded in 2019 by Tina Bhojwani, Jean-Michel Cazabat and Alvertos Revach, was also launched with a philosophy entirely focused on sustainability. According to Bhojwani, the vegan brand is 110% sustainable, in part by offsetting its carbon and water impacts to positively impact the planet. The brand’s shoes, from flats to heeled sandals to boots, are made from 50% vegetable and 50% synthetic materials, with the goal of ultimately using 100% recycled materials.

“We created a brand because we wanted to prove that luxury style and design can be analogous to sustainability. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, ”Bhojwani said. Aera shoes are handcrafted in Veneto, Italy, where artisans take two days to make each shoe.

To cement its commitment to sustainable development, the brand, which launched a new slogan at the beginning of April, “Luxury footprint-free shoes”, hired a third party to measure the impacts of production, transport, storage and distribution. delivery of the mark on the environment. And the brand focuses on the transparency of these impacts, a principle that is important for the founders to show.

One of the ways Aera balances costs to be sustainable is by having an organized assortment, Bhojwani said.

“I no longer believe that the seasons are relevant. We have a timeless, timeless collection that is not meant to stand out, ”she said. “If you have the quality, the shoes will last and you can use them for years to come. You also try not to have a very large collection.

Its shoe boxes, on the other hand, are made of paper that contains 40% post-consumer recycled waste and 15% organic waste residue.

Finally, over the past seven years – and decades before – the Aldo Group has focused on green efforts and in 2018 became the first fashion footwear and accessories company to achieve carbon neutral certification.

“Our founder [Aldo Bensadoun] was thinking about social responsibility and the goal before the terms became mainstream, ”said Director of Global Communications Tanya Iermieri. “Mr. B. began to design shoes with the aim of creating a different kind of modern business, based on compassion and ethics, aimed at influencing society both in fashion and in fashion. social responsibility.

In 2013, Aldo first set up “a team of sustainable development experts to measure our footprint internally and annually. This has enabled us to strengthen the link between our sustainable development department and the entire company and to raise awareness of our company’s role in the fight against climate change, ”she added.

In 2018, the same year that Aldo started buying carbon offsets for its unavoidable emissions, Aldo had reduced its farm’s emissions by 46%.

By 2030, Aldo plans to reduce its carbon emissions per pair of shoes by 30% from 2016 levels. The company is also incorporating low-impact plant materials and recycled plastics as materials, with plans to that the components “become even more durable as we continue to research and implement this.” Additionally, in 2019, Aldo’s Call It Spring label went fully vegan using a jersey fabric made from post-consumer recycled water bottles, eco-vegan leathers, and insoles made from a algae-based material called Bloom.

And for the Aldo brand, in 2019 the company launched its first sustainability capsule collection called RPPL, made from recycled plastic bottle yarn and lake algae. “Each pair contains five recycled plastic water bottles that keep 640 grams of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. “the company said.

More recently, in 2019, Aldo stopped using single-use plastic shopping bags and is phasing out paper and plastic shopping bags as well. Instead, the company distributes a transportable shoebox with a built-in rope. Shoe boxes are made from 80% post-consumer recycled material and are fully recyclable.


Aldo shoe boxes

Aldo stopped using single-use plastic shopping bags in 2019.

CREDIT: Courtesy of Minas Panagiotakis / Aldo

Going forward, reuse and recycling of end-of-life shoe materials are goals for Timberland and Aera, among other companies.

“Circularity is now part of our design philosophy,” said Vien of Timberland. “There is an infrastructure that allows suppliers to take the [old] components and transform them into new components. Before, it was difficult to find suppliers on a large scale who could do this for us. Now we know we can do it.

Bhojwani from Aera added, “At the end of the day, we believe that if you want to be sustainable, you can’t work in a linear fashion. You need to have a circular approach to business.


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