If the unsightly ‘green’ shoes of yesteryear turned you away from eco-friendly footwear, we’d like to be among the first to welcome you back. A host of new designers have set out to prove that stylish shoes can be produced ethically and with environmentally friendly materials. Visit Moo Shoes in New York City (www.mooshooes.com) to find specialty shoes that are trendy and eco-friendly. Or shop online for retailers that handpick the best eco-shoes of the season, like Under the Canopy or Vivavi.
The resurgence of ‘green’ fashion has clearly been aided by growing public concern over sweatshop labor. But perhaps it has also been spurred by the ingenuity of the product itself, like green shoe companies who turn discarded automobile tires into durable tread for new shoes. Consumer demand is supporting a growing number of green fashion products, like Uncle Ho Shoes, which sells a rugged line of sandals made in Fair Trade factories in Vietnam (try Nha Trang Sandals in pink).
Even Birkenstock, a company known more for comfortable soles than style, has updated their look with a new line of Tatami shoes. Try Tatami’s Scarlet slides or Josephine buckle sandals. Both deliver urban flair with cleverly disguised Birkenstock soles. And Earth shoes, popular in the 1970s, have made a similar comeback with cute round-toe styles, like the Edge sling back in red, or the aptly named Sassy sandals in black. One of the hippest new shoe companies is ‘Shoes with Souls’, an eco-friendly and socially responsible company based in San Diego with an online store and private, by-appointment-only showroom.
Before your closet fills up like Imelda Marcos, think about donating last year’s shoes to local charities, or to organizations like Share Your Soles, who deliver secondhand children’s shoes to families in Central America. Big shoe companies like Nike also offer a way to recycle your old running shoes (they will take any brand) to be ground into raw materials for new shoes and other products.