As sustainability becomes a greater focus in the fashion industry, it’s getting easier to shop for ethically made wardrobes staples from dresses to jeans and outerwear. But for the wellness junkie who’s habitually signed up for yoga, boxing, and barre classes—and (literally) running errands in between—sneakers are a must from performance-based to fashion styles. So, it’s refreshing to see so many of the coolest kicks coming from eco-friendly brands right now.
“It used to be if you wanted an animal-free sneaker, your only option was fast-fashion and if you wanted a sustainable pair of kicks, your only option was leather-clad,” says Ashlee Piper, a sustainability expert and author of Give a Sh*t: Do Good. Live Better. Save the Planet. “Now, brands like Veja, Native Shoes, and Keep bring all the style and comfort of a sneaker with cruelty-free options that are also ethically produced,” she says. This includes APL’s brand new TechLoom Breeze collection of knit sneakers made from Merino wool—they’re the brand’s most sustainable and lightest running shoe to date, certified by The Woolmark Company.
While a functional trainer is a strong starting point, fashion-forward kicks—from wear-with-everything white lace-ups by Veja to Stella McCartney’s new techy, sock-style sneakers—come with an ethical stamp of approval. “We wanted to create a sneaker that would be made better and that respects the environment and workers,” says Veja co-founder Sébastien Kopp, whose business doesn’t pay for advertising or marketing as a way to invest the company’s entire budget in their moral manufacturing processes. “Our sneakers would be more expensive to make, but we knew we could keep the price on par with other brands if we didn’t allocate money for advertising.”
For Stella McCartney, innovation is a key factor—her new Loop sneaker is designed with technical hooks and special stitching that replaces conventional gluing methods which harm air quality, contribute to water and soil pollution, and create contaminated waste from the adhesive that is not easily biodegradable. At the end of the sneakers life, it can be fully disassembled to be recycled or reused—a game changer for those who wear through sneakers in a few short months.
Whether you’re a sneakerhead looking to hop on the sustainability train or will feel better knowing your new pair of trainers are backed with a great ethos, ahead, shop the edit of sustainable sneakers from Veja, Stella McCartney, and more.
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