To know me is to know that I have strong opinions about footwear. (I do not care if you live by the beach, flip flops are still terrible and I stand by my thoughts.) But in a show of my ability to be flexible and open to new ideas, I have done a 180 on my feelings about sneakers. I am a recent inductee into the sneakers club. A few years ago, I was convinced that sneakers only belonged in the gym. Now I am obsessed and will attempt to make sneakers work for pretty much any occasion.
However, and it pains me to say this, sneakers are not the most sustainable fashion items, often using lots of virgin plastic and generating something like 30 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. (Insert John Oliver’s sarcastic “cool”.) We really (really, really!) don’t need to be putting that into the environment. But thankfully, we’re moving into an era where brands are increasingly conscious about their environmental impact. One such brand is Everlane, which is launching the sustainable sneaker line Tread by Everlane on April 25.
Everlane was founded in 2011, but it took the brand eight years to launch a sneaker because they wanted to do it sans the negative environmental impact. The line will launch with the Trainer, which retails for $98. This unisex trainer that has—drumroll please—zero carbon impact. Snaps for Everlane. “In a world where we are becoming more conscious of our plastic consumption, we haven’t really seen that catch on in sneaker culture yet,” says Alison Melville, GM of Footwear and Accessories at Everlane. “With Tread by Everlane, we are providing customers a sneaker that isn’t full of virgin plastic and that is versatile so it can stand the test of time.”
I asked Melville about Everlane’s decision to use leather, because leather is notoriously one of the worst environmental offenders. “We chose to use leather because of its quality and versatility. It’s beautiful, comfortable, and it lasts, which will ultimately result in longer wears,” she explains. “We made sure to find a clean and responsible supplier, Saigon TanTec.” This tannery is certified Gold (the highest ranking) by the Leather Working Group, an organization of independent auditors of the leather industry. “TanTec uses 56 percent less freshwater and 42 percent less electricity than other facilities considered the best in the industry,” Melville explains.
But because this doesn’t offset all of the emissions, Tread by Everlane partnered with a third-party firm, NativeEnergy, to figure out the full carbon footprint of the Trainer for its entire life cycle—right back to the cattle farms. “Many shoe brands don’t include the impact of raising cattle in their footprint and it’s considered a best practice to do so,” Melville explains. “It’s hugely important to us to measure the full impact of each style to help us know where we stand and how we can do better.”
In true Everlane fashion, these sneakers come in a soothing array of seven neutrals. I am partial to the off-white and pale pink iterations, despite being a person who is basically Kevin with the chili. They’re available in women’s sizes 5-12, and men’s sizes 7-13.
Want more eco-friendly fashion? These 18 brands are creating stylish, sustainable clothing. Also, these vegan sneakers are made from corn (yes, corn!).
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