These sustainable shoe brands will change the way you wear luxury sneakers
Footwear has been a polluter of the fashion industry since the sneaker revolution of the 1980s. Once modern shoe styles were introduced into society, fashion responded to demand at the expense of the environment and of the working class under inhumane labor laws in third world and developing countries. But shoes that “last” – the name of the foot-shaped block of wood that forms the silhouette of the shoe – come from passionate shoemakers concerned with the circularity of their shoe production.
Without a doubt, Italian shoes have been the gold standard of men’s footwear. Handicrafts are the essence of fashion production on the European continent. Portugal is a country that is trying to fill the void of quality products, far from fast fashion, for many luxury brands: Portugal can produce their luxury products but at more efficient prices. The Modtissimo fashion salon and salon enhances the Portuguese cachet in fashion. A partner to facilitate the business and production of neighboring countries to provide high quality fashion products.
Wayz: for a lifestyle
Born in Portugal, Wayz defines the production of high-end footwear with affordable and ethical quality. Wayz takes the clean palette of a minimal shoe and adds leather details that reinforce the architecture of its design. This is complemented by a simple aesthetic supported by a thicker outsole.
Their main production partners are factories of local origin, family-owned and well-known in the region for the manufacture of shoes. Craftsmen make every piece of the shoe within 70 kilometers of the design headquarters in Porto, Portugal. Craftsmen receive fair wages under good working conditions and respected labor laws.
Wayz uses recycled and upcycled materials that naturally come from local businesses. Recycled plastic waste collected in the Mediterranean Sea by Mipe, located in Felgueiras, Portugal, constitutes the polyester rod. The shoe is also made from 70% recycled rubber, supplied by Bolflex also located in Felgueiras. Their vegetable-tanned leather is hypoallergenic and comes from by-products of the bovine industry, without chromium or metal. A biodegradable latex, linen, wool and wood fiber sockliner, and cotton laces complete the rest of the well-constructed shoe, with a sleek design and stance.
Koio and regenerative agriculture
Koio is an advocate and protagonist of what is called regenerative agriculture. Unlike modern commercial or conventional agriculture, where an animal is designated in an enclosure, regenerative agriculture is bio-diverse in animal and plant life, growing mostly in the wild without a designation. Regenerative agriculture provides a naturally sustainable ecosystem for plants, animals and the land. It’s a simple and natural process that puts Koio shoes into a regenerative future.
Producing his line of shoes in Marche, Italy, by a master craftsman, Koio uses leather, suede and locally recycled materials to make each pair. Each pair touches the hands of 42 different artisans before a customer can wear one. Even the soles of the shoes and the shoe boxes come from the surroundings of the manufacturer of the Marches. Italian-made shoes are designed with 70 years of craftsmanship, shape, or “forma” in Italian, being the soul of the Koio brand. Their chief maker, Gianluca, uses wooden shapes that date back to the 1940s.
The founders of Koio, Johannes Quodt and Chris Wichert, decided to be the first shoe designers to create shoes ethically. Since 2013, they’ve been making shoes that speak of a clean aesthetic and a circular lifestyle. Italian artisans and craftsmen are passionate as are the founders and have been involved in the success of Koio shoes.
Marita Moreno and alternative materials
Marita Moreno is a staple in Portuguese fashion as a slow and sustainable fashion brand. By launching its vegan line in 2018, the Marita Moreno brand used materials like cork that regenerate in themselves, and a recyclable material that can become all kinds of textiles. Producing locally in Portugal since their beginnings, Marita Moreno has employed artisans to make shoes and accessories from cork, raw materials and, more recently, leather made from apple skin.
ATACAMA leather shoes are a display of high quality luxury and ethically crafted from sustainable sources. These pairs of sneakers, inspired by the Atacama desert in South America. Upcycled leathers from previous collections feature crackle leather, called Atacama. The cracked leather is from the Portuguese region and is specially designed for the Marita Moreno brand.
ATAMACA ultralight soles are made of eco-friendly EVA material with natural bio-leather lining. Some parts of the shoe use Burel, a 100% wool fabric. Leather is made without any production of heavy metals. Surprisingly, ATAMACA can be buried and will dissolve in 2-3 weeks, providing natural compost. Marita Morena is a 2021 Global Footwear Award winning shoemaker in the professional category in the process of ethical manufacturing / sustainable manufacturing.
R3 and the concept of recycling and renewal
Constructed from recycled waste and biodegradable materials, the R3 Concept sneakers are designed to be recycled, straight from their last wear. Focused on finding a fair trade process for its footwear business, the family business opted for production in its home country, Canada, in accordance with European production standards. Notably, Europe has better production value for their materials and labor, and they are a great resource for luxury production in footwear, in particular.
With the idea of renewing shoes that often cannot be, R3 Concept has a zero waste program. This program, coinciding with eco-friendly suppliers and manufacturers Global recycling standards, allows R3 to collect pairs of used shoes, refurbish them and donate them to soles4souls, a non-profit based in Canada. The packaging of each shoe is made from 90% recycled cardboard from Montreal.
R3 Concept creates a shoe from the first stage of its production, also beneficial to the supply chain of future pairs of shoes to be manufactured, if necessary. The shoe is lightweight and durable with strength from refined upcycled and recycled materials, providing the feel of luxury basketball.