This one is a no-brainer. Veja is like sustainable sneaker royalty, and in 2018 was dubbed the world’s most sustainable sneaker — at the same time reporting that since 2004 the brand had purchased enough wild rubber to preserve 120,00 hectares of the Amazon forest. Huge! On a whole, Veja makes really good-looking sneakers with raw materials sourced from organic farming and ecological farming, which avoids chemicals and polluting processes. They’re completely unfussy aesthetically, too, making them wardrobe heroes that’ll work with all of your outfits — and all of your personal brand evolutions.
Long-time footwear favourite New Balance has been exploring more sustainable options in the last few years. Most recently, the brand launched an ‘undyed’ version of its retro 327 silhouette. Before that, New Balance worked with the one and only Jaden Smith to create the Vision Racer, a chunky amalgamation of recycled polyesters from post-consumer plastic, castor bean oil, recycled foam and rubber, and virgin polyurethane. And before that, the brand teamed up with Reformation to create more eco-friendly versions of the classic 574 and X90 shapes, where they used Eva foam and Bloom algae to reduce the amount of fossil fuels used in manufacturing, and worked with chrome-free tanning processes to eliminate the potentially carcinogenic substance. While these much-hyped limited releases sell out super fast, it’s nice to know a more sustainable version of New Balance’s 574 is a mainstay (available in so many colours!). It’s made up of 64% post-consumer recycled polyester, and 36% surplus textile waste. Not everything NB does has a sustainable focus, but these examples — we love to see them!
No stranger to innovation, it makes sense that Nike has directed thought to creating more sustainable materials. Nike ahs been incorporating recycled polyesters since 2010 and is currently on a mission toward 100% sustainable cotton via organic, recycled and Better Cotton Initiative. From the range, look to the Nike Air soles, which are made from at least 50% recycled waste and 100% renewable energy; the Flyknits, which are partly made of recycled materials and produces 60% less waste than traditional footwear uppers; Flyleather, which is a new 50% recycled leather fibre; and go directly to pioneering styles like the Vapormax 2020 Flyknit (50% recycled content), and the Space Hippie (made from recycled ‘space junk’ found on factory floors). Also! You can recycle your old kicks with Nike to create Nike Grind material, which will be used in new performance products. Swoosh indeed.
Adidas has been super vocal about its sustainability efforts for some time, especially on the topic of ending plastic waste. Love that. By 2024, the brand wants to be using 100% recycled polyester in all of its products — a project that has been largely nudged forward by the brand’s 5-year partnership with Parley, in which it turns marine pollution into sportswear. Already, Adidas has some super fresh alternatives to Earth-damaging shoes. Earlier this year the brand launched the flowery dream SuperEarth collab with Sean Wotherspoon, which is vegan ofc. And just recently it announced a Clean Classics line which includes six (!!) styles — they’re all vegan, with Better Rubber soles (90% natural rubber, 10% recycled), fully recycled lining and 70% recycled uppers. Woof!
Full disclosure: we discovered Cariuma through our internet style icon @Champagnemani. Forever a beacon of good taste and chill attitude — anything she likes, we love, marry and spend our lives growing old with. Our affair with Cariuma in particular is a strong one, since the brand was dreamt up by a couple of outdoorsy Brazillian guys who know that the true answer to sustainable fashion is quality over quantity. They use rapid self-regenerated bamboo, natural rubber, organic cotton, cork, recycled PET and many more sustainable material alternatives. And what they create is classic, comfortable, wear-with-everything sneakers. And their latest collaboration with Pantone? Chef kisses
We’re seriously impressed with all the new sustainable materials popping up on the market. But vegan ‘leather’ made of grapes? That’s just next level. And of course it’s Pangaia that went there. The sustainable basics brand developed a way to use byproduct from the wine industry, so skins and seeds of grapes, to produce a leather-like fabric and then turn it into a sneaker. Mind-blowing. Of course, these sold out almost immediately! But you can tap below to sign up for alerts on the next drop.