By now, it’s not news that fashion has long been operating at the expense of the planet. As awareness surrounding the environmental cost of fashion heightens, we’re no longer strangers to more circular channels of consumption: from buying secondhand to more conscious ways of decluttering. Slow fashion and secondhand clothing have found their way into our ever-evolving wardrobes, but many of us are often stumped when it comes to where our shoes come from—and go.
In a 2013 study by Statista, approximately 22 million pairs of shoes are sold in Singapore yearly and is expected to increase to 29 million by 2025. Shoe-specific statistics remain limited, but the shoes we wear—and dispose of—contribute to the 141,200 tonnes of textile and leather waste we produced in 2013 alone.
The march towards a more sustainable fashion system is a long one—but what is heartening to witness are the brands that put our planet first. While preloved kicks remain an option, finding your exact size can be a hit or miss. Hygiene and quality are also key factors that go into your hunt for shoes that don’t hurt the planet. Thanks to the massive progress in innovation we’ve seen happen on the front of fashion, we’re seeing footwear brands rise to the challenge. From fair-trade supply chains to closed-loop materials, discover sustainably made shoe brands that promise style, function and durability.
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Dubbed ‘full-circle footwear’, Thousand Fell is your answer to zero-waste white sneakers. Designed in New York and made in Franca, Brazil by a family-owned factory with three decades of high-end shoemaking experience, the label’s all-white sneakers are built from materials such as aloe vera, recycled bottles, coconut husk and sugar cane. The decision to specialise in classic white sneakers is by design, too. By focusing on a timeless classic, the brand is able to keep its promise of durability.
Available at Madewell.
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Made and based in Los Angeles, California, Marais USA shoes are retro film photographs come to life. Offering a range of mules, sandals and slides, the brand’s entirely vegan line comes in a variety of vibrant, quirky colourways that go with any summer ensemble.
Available at Marais USA. Worldwide shipping available, duties and import fees apply.
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The brainchild of a fashion industry veteran and footwear manufacturing maestro, Lacess sneakers are made from repurposed leather scraps, post-consumer plastics and recycled rubber. 95 percent of the water used is recycled and reused, keeping the manufacturing process solvent-free and closed-loop. Designed to be extra-breathable, you won’t have to worry about stuffy insoles as Lacess opts for naturally sweat-wicking, anti-bacterial, anti-odour cork. And for every pair of Lacess shoes sold, a portion is donated to Compassion First to support victims of human trafficking.
Available at Lacess. Free shipping to Singapore and Hong Kong.
4 / 5
Handmade by a small team of 20 artisans, this Los Angeles-based brand is what loyalty to local craft looks like. Rafa’s penchant for colour is perhaps what sets the label apart, making their cruelty-free, sustainably made kicks all the more worthwhile. From chartreuse heeled sandals to lilac suede-effect mules, this is one brand that has nailed the art of shoes that make you want to wear them over and over again.
Available at Rafa. Worldwide shipping available, duties and import fees apply.
5 / 5
Step of Grace
For everyday, neutral slides that go with everything, look no further than Step of Grace. From woven mules to genuine leather soles, these handcrafted shoes are made to last and grow with you—making sure you get not only guaranteed comfort, but the most mileage out of your conscious purchase. And for packaging? They opt for reusable calico dustbags and compostable cardboard boxes instead.
Available at Step of Grace. Free shipping to Singapore and Indonesia.