Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Shoe shopping

I swore myself a few years back that I would never buy new clothes or accessories without knowing where they came from. This actually goes for as much of the shopping I do as possible. I try not to buy something new if I can help it. I also try to buy things I know will last me a while. Why you may ask, it sounds like I'm making my life much more complicated. Well, maybe I am, but I have come to enjoy the part of shopping where I challenge myself to find what I need. It can sometimes take a while, but I do find it eventually. I have this mental list in my head that pops up whenever I walk into an op shop. What a thrill when what I've been searching for is sitting on a shelf waiting for me! I realize this might not be a very practical to shop for most people though. And when it comes to shoes, finding the right pair at the right size is near impossible in op shops.
We don't realize how much power consumers have. But we do, all of us. Consumers were the ones to put pressure on big brands like Nike, Adidas, Levis to be more responsible about how they produce their goods. There are so many fair trade eco friendly options for buying clothes and shoes nowadays, no excuse to at least give it a go! 
I thought I've share my little network I've been building up. This post will about shoe shopping. I hope you enjoy it and find it useful!
I am not a huge shoe collector, but I like my feet to be nice and comfy. I'm a big fan of sneaker type shoes, they are the best comfort wise and there are so many cool styles out there. 
In small towns like Gisborne, or in New Zealand in general, you'll find it hard to source even just one brand of ethically made shoes. Luckily the internet helps fill in the lack of local resources!
I go through phases of browsing on TradeMe (our local Ebay) for shoes, and recently bought a pair of sheepskin slippers for $11. They are ugly, but oh so warm. I found out when I received them through the post that they are from a NZ company too, Canterbury Leather International, and they look so much more durable than the previous ones I bought (Emu).

Ugly but warm!
I find that asking in stores some information about the product can be useful. I bought a pair of El Naturalista shoes in Paris, and the store owner happily explained to me that it was a company owned and based in Spain and that they source sustainably made natural products. The shoes are manufactured in Spain too, where there are strict rules for workers' rights. I felt happy to buy them, the price wasn't any different than any other pair of similar shoes and I found a color and style that suited me.

my El Naturalista shoes
Using search engines on the net to get more info about the brands you like is a good way to get informed too. You can also search for new brands too.

One of my favorite shoes sites of the moment is Toms shoes. They are not particularly eco friendly but for every pair you buy, they give one to a child who need some too. They also make sure the shoes are produce in a good working environment for their employees. I loved the idea, so I bought a pair in a shop in Melbourne, and recently ordered another pair online. They are very comfy!
Bodas by Toms shoes
So here's a short list of other brands I found searching through the net and in like minded magazines:
- If I was rich, I would definitely buy a pair of Po-Zu, they make the coolest sandals, shoes and boots
- Terra Plana, heels, sneakers and boots
- Autonomie Project, flip flops and sneakers
- Common Soles, flip flops
- Keen, lots and lots of styles, mostly casual wear
- Groundhog, shoes and boots
- Wombat, simple and casual styles, sell gumboots! (Also do clothing)
- And of course handmade websites such as Etsy are good ones to browse. I currently have my eyes on this neat pair of mocassins...
Handmade mocassin by willymocs

More articles about choosing "green" shoes: Green Your Sole, Economically Sustainable Footwear, Tracking the Future of Sustainable Footwear, Fashion from Spain (an article about Pikolinos and El Naturalista).
And if you're keen to do some more reading on the subject, here are a couple of links: Fair Trade Sweatshops? article and Organic Clothing and Eco Friendly Fashion Sources.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting read, I really enjoy it and find it useful! I agree with you that using search engines on the net to get more information about the brands you like is a good way to get informed too and we can search for new brands too.

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