Shoes glorious shoes….

ethical eco brogue shoeAs designers and consumers we collectively need to realize the implications of throw away culture and fast-fashion on the environment.  Footwear is a good place to start. Worldwide footwear consumption has doubled every 20 years, from 2.5 billion pairs in 1950 to more than 20 billion pairs of shoes in 2005.  Specifically it is the material of footwear that I have been investigating.

65% of the world’s production of leather is estimated to go into leather footwear.. and approximately 90% of the leather manufactured is tanned using Chromium. Chromium is known to be very toxic and has carcinogenic properties.The leather industry has commonly been associated with high pollution and high water consumption caused during manufacturing processes like Chromium tanning”

I have carried out in depth research into the leather industry and found a new system that has been extensively tested at independent leather institutes and several tanneries. This new process has a very high dye uptake, so that very bright colours are possible. And most importantly this process poses no threat to the environment and is ideal for footwear.

eco shoeThe Alternative British Brogue;

‘This project investigates throw-away culture. Exploring environmental issues associated with fast-fashion and trends.

The purpose of this project is to re-design the legendary Brogue with a sustainable approach to materials and production. Specifically exploring the leather tanning process. The Alternative British Brogue takes the traditional Brogue dress shoe and uses an alternative sustainable material solution, creating an eco-conscious, fashionable, and honest range of footwear.

Re-considerations of the materials/processing and new designs will in no way detract from the high quality, craftsmanship, and authentic traditions associated with the Brogue, but offer new sustainable alternatives/route to this heritage.

Why the Brogue?

hand made shoe brogueThe Brogue is a quintessentially British and very popular shoe. It is a classic and versatile shoe that will never go out of fashion, suitable for both men and women. The Great British Brogue has been around for centuries and will continue to be around for many more.

If you invest in a handful of sensible (and stylish) pairs and take care of them, you’ll be set for years.

The Brogue prevails through time because it is an iconic, comfortable, hard wearing shoe that can come in an assortment of styles and colours, suitable for any occasion.

Traditionally, Brogues are made of leather and in that there is an opportunity in the leather footwear industry that needs to be addressed!

The Future;

Sponsorship will help kick-start the foundations of my own sustainable footwear company and further information can be found here.

With thanks to ‘The Clog and Shoe Workshop’ in Dumfries Galloway who has helped make the prototype.

Emily Harrison


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