UK retailer Marks & Spencer has launched its first sustainable footwear collection, called Footglove Earth — the latest component of the company's ongoing Plan A initiative to become the world's most sustainable retailer by 2020.
Each of the shoes' components is sourced through suppliers that developed them sustainably or through the use of recycled, post-consumer waste: The premium leather uppers are made in tanneries accredited to the independent Leather Working Group standards. The fabric lining is made from 57 percent coffee ground yarns. The soles contain 35 percent natural rubber and 10 percent rice husks and the padding is made from recycled foam. Internal components are made using post-consumer plastic bottles. Furthermore, the adhesives are water-based and latex- and solvent-free, meaning less water and energy used in production.
M&S says Footglove Earth is the result of 18 months of product design. Suppliers adopted Plan A regulations to meet M&S standards for an “eco factory,” ensuring it is more water-, waste- and energy-efficient.
Footglove Earth is the latest in a burgeoning collection of sustainable footwear options. While Puma led the charge with its InCycle collection of recyclable clothing and footwear in 2013, fashion icons Stella McCartney and Gucci have begun incorporating bio-synthetics to replace leather and bioplastics for sole construction, while Timberland is making soles from recycled tires. Not to be outdone, startups are making their mark, as well: Project Piola has created a line of footwear — and a social enterprise — around sustainable rubber production in Peru; Joya da Terra is making zero-waste sandals from recycled plastic with a coconut fiber insole; and completely customizable Lyf Shoes are made from entirely compostable and recyclable material, assembled without any glue and printed locally on a 3D printer.