As is the case for most industries, ethics isn’t typically at the forefront of many brands’ and consumers’ minds when they create or shop for new shoes. Creating shoes is admittedly more labor intensive than most garment production and, for most conventional shoe brands, convenience and cost trump eco or human-friendliness.
With the peak of fast fashion, shoes followed the trajectory of most other kinds of production. Exploitation, cheap corner cutting, and blind eye turning.
Luckily, there are always the trailblazers and the innovators who choose to look at footwear from a more all-encompassing perspective. They choose to create quality product without putting anyone else (planet or person) at risk. These are the companies I love to support and shed light on.
For decades, Mary Sue and her co-founder have worked in the fashion and footwear space. Their brand Ashbury Skies has always been a little unconventional, supporting small, independent shoe brands on their online retail space, but they haven’t created a product specifically their own, until the release of their newest endeavor: the BENDY Shoe.
They designed a shoe that reduces environmental impact without sacrificing comfort or style. entirely handcrafted in California. The BENDY is made with only four materials - a rubber sole, a front suede leather piece, a back sturdy leather piece, and thread. The shoes are designed to last, and are made with the utmost humanitarian standards.
Not surprisingly, BENDY surpassed its fundraising goal within a few days of launching, but that doesn’t mean that the campaign can’t use more support.
Today, Mary Sue and her co-founder have launched a scholarship program for emerging designers and students in the footwear industry who want to create an ethical brand or product from concept, to sourcing, to creation, to completion. The Ethical Shoe Design Course is a 12-week intensive course, and the first of its kind in the footwear space. The duo hopes that this course will create radical change for the future of sustainable footwear. And for each pair of BENDY Shoes purchased, a portion of the proceeds will support the scholarship fund.
BENDY, they hope, is a catalyst that will spark change and push consumers to continue to consider the impact of their purchases.
To learn more about BENDY or to support their campaign, click here.