green bible for shoes

Does anyone know if there is some sort of “rule book” for shoes and sustainablitliy? I am looking for a simple do and don’t list.

My advice would be to look through the Simple Brands (Simple - Footwear & Apparel - Official Site) website. It would be a good place to start searching to see how current production footwear is produced and what materials, adhesives, and etc. they are using to produce the products.

I’m in softgoods, but not in footwear. Maybe someone else in footwear will chime in?

Good luck!

Hello designingmom

No unfortunately, I don,t and this info might be in the heart of every company that uses green products,

but here is not my point.

I take this opportunity to write down a subject that runs in my mind for years…and share it with all of u readers.


Do you think that depending on green supply with all the new processes it requiers to make mass market product will be the right way to sustainablitliy???

I personaly doubt if you look at it globally (green material supply, quality standard, processes, tests, etc…)

it sounds good fashion to speak green, sustainability, ecology for the sake of our planet…

and what if we produce less but better???

do you think the majors brands all need more than 200 footwear references in their seasonal catalogues??? (4 per year?)

think about processes operations, bills of material, development stages for detail improvement, all size ranges, molds, labor cost material supply quality check per every pair…

think the tons of footwear references that are not sold because too expensive or ugly (yes it happens)… those products are all dying in sale in outlet stores then burned because next season is coming…

to us designer, why do we have to compromize when we urge to complete in a record time 3 to 16 new pieces of footwear per season, when most of them are the slight evolution of the season before??? (with frustrations because of the incredible upcoming deadlines).
why ? for the marketing plan and the profit for few stake-holders???

I might sound absolutely naive, but honestly, i dont see any reason to substitute in a mid or long term the oil derivative material supply to green supply without questioning the mass production formula we are all involved in so far…

And What if our business creates a new economic model???

interested to debate?

interesting debate.

I still think we should design great product without compromise. However, fairly soon, I believe our choices and priorities will be changing. PU prices have gone through the roof. Petrol based materials have gone up. What are our alternatives going to be? I think we should be planning for these choices now and get ahead of them.

There are a couple of companies leading this. Timberland, Simple maybe, Nike. I think this would be a great forum to let everybody in on simple basic ways to be good global citizens and to prepare ourselves to design in a world of shrinking resources.

For instance, in my company, we are looking at substituting recycled meshes where we can. Limiting extra packaging materials. Without giving away anything confidential, can anyone add to this?

I often enjoy reading your thoughts antonell07. Thanks for daring to share them online. I too have briefly experienced the mad timelines involved in designing the oversized ranges of the big sport footwear companies and so sympathise with what you related to. I am in no rush to return to a cutting edge corporate footwear design studio, although I do still consider it sometimes.
I also resonate with the rest of your dialogue with designingmom here as it would now appear to me that the overt resource wars have indeed begun…
(Hmmn, sorry to sound so negative here…wondering if I should be commenting now…I do love footwear too!)

Does anyone know if there is some sort of “rule book” for shoes and sustainablitliy?

The best way the works for me is… work directly with Chinese suppliers through your factory. Break the shoe down piece by piece; Glue, leather, mesh, EVA, lasting board, etc. They you have them search out water based glues, Veggie tanned leather, PET mesh, Corn or PET based foam, and ‘recycled’ lasting boards. It takes a little time for them to get the suppliers together and costs a bit more but, it’s worth it.


Unfortunately, in the end the footwear industry is the antithesis of anything “green”. Nike making 5000 pairs of “considered” shoes and 400000000000 pairs of everything else is not making any effect on the environment- only a PR exercise with an additional line of footwear. In the same token, the awareness it raises will hopefully lead to positive changes industry-wide.

The fact of the matter is, CONSUMERISM goes against the ideals of living “green” and without a complete redesign of our entire existence and lifestyles none of it matters. We have worked ourselves into a way of life that most will be unwilling to forego and at some point the pot will boil over into a disastrous end. There simply aren’t enough landfills or resources to support the human race for much longer without some serious repercussions to us all. Bruno is right- Footwear companies are not going to sacrifice “profit” to truly promote the planet’s health by making less junk for people to consume. Money will be the noose we hang ourselves with. Too bad we have to take every other species out along with us. I have considered getting out of footwear many times due to the very nature of it’s effect on the planet. It is a difficult balance when we all need to eat here and now. How much some of us are eating is the truly disturbing part.

What really needs to be designed is a lifestyle in which we all contribute as individuals to a society that only produces what it needs to survive and uses the waste to generate future essentials. Basically living like Native Americans did before we invaded this country. But even then, there are not enough resources for this many people to maintain even THAT way of life. A lifestyle not based upon obtaining as many “things” as you can before you die. NOT GONNA HAPPEN. Just watch an episode of “keeping up with the Kardashians”. A nice little tribute to our evolution. The most intelligent creatures on the planet? I have to wonder. And granted, I am sitting here as the ultimate hypocrite as I type this. We are all part of this system we have created. Ultimately, the industrial revolution has taken us down a road that probably does not end in “happiness”.

Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but this is the reality of it. Next time you buy a pair of shoes, envision which landfill it will end up in. Ah, the visions of my precious “Sustainable” and “considered” AJ XX3’s TPU chassis in 2000 years when it still hasn’t even begun to break down.

'Til next time,


Thanks for sharing your inner thoughts Tony.

So here we have some people in the industry daring to verbalise their normally not-so-visible conflicted mindset. Hopefully we are not making rope to hang our professional selves with here!

I suppose that to question is pretty much always a good thing, even if it does at first reveal the uncomfortable…

Whatever next I wonder?

A post lunchbreak daydream…

I’m now imagining a world where ‘brand awareness’ could mean something else…

A time & place where globablly recognised branded goods might signify the opposite of what they seem to do now. A world where sustainable and locally sourced products are what is considered normal.

I suppose it could be more concisely summed up as the opposite direction of the corporate globalization of our world.

But getting back to shoes, I think the thought of a repairable, functional and stylish, locally produced shoe has much appeal!.. espescialy if it had any of the athletic foamy comfort that we are so used to…

Wallflower: I don’t believe that speaking the truth will jeopardize my career in any way. This is the reality of the situation no matter who designs any one specific product. The bottom line is, I am not willing to quit my job and live off the land for the sake of saving the planet when billions of other people aren’t going to make any sacrifices. What would be the point? It would still go to hell in a short time. Especially when the governments of the world have very little concern about the issue.

I was only trying to bring to light a bigger truth about where we are headed. The riddle we are faced with is how do we manufacture less products while generating more money? Good luck with that. Sadly, in spite of Al Gore’s eye-opening statement “what’s more important? Gold bars, or a planet?” Our answer will always be gold bars in the end. So you have to question man’s intelligence at it’s core. In the end we are a self-destructive species. It is what it is. Yes we are making steps to build solar powered planes etc., but this stuff is still years out in terms of replacing our existing technology- so it seems like it’s too little too late if you ask me. Hopefully I am the world’s worst prophet and we will use our intelligence to reverse what we have done, actually HELP the planet and everything will be glorious!

But yes, back to footwear: Ideally you buy one pair of glueless, recyclable shoes that can be repaired and reused for the rest of your life. Sure, why not.


let’s start with recycled thread. Does anybody have a source they can share?

Ha ha, sorry. I didn’t mean to sabotage the thread with gloom and doom.

I haven’t seen a recycled thread, but most suppliers we work with offer green alternatives of almost everything for a higher price.

let’s start with recycled thread. Does anybody have a source they can share?

Here’s a few…

Paiho ‘recycled series’ book-P-62,

Godspeed industrial group (PET) (China & Taiwan)

Shin Liang Textile co. (China & Taiwan)

If you need e-mail addresses, let me know.


little fun story going on right now, well more of a word of warning:

I have spent the better part of this past week in Asia trying to use some eco friendly materials I have found…namely PET spun polyesters with various %'s recycled material (50%-100% recycled fibers) and a fascinating bamboo/polyester ripstop.

I am finding more problems using it than benefits at this point.

For example: since they are recycled polyesters, as their recycled content goes higher, their Stoll ratings (abrasion tests) decline and that they stretch in both X and Y to the point of becoming meshes…and the burst test? they fail it scarily easy.

Use too many stitches per inch and they rip through , too few and they stretch loose, too lite of a weave (less than 600D) they work loose.

Now the bamboo/polyester ripstop is a farce; its so “greenwashed” its unbelievable. it is recommended to use a PVC backing to ensure it does not burst. The bamboo is the weft and the the poly is supposed to reinforce the bamboo. Without a backing, neither one works together or as it should. The Bamboo frays and the poly stretches. it pulls itself apart. As a ripstop its an oxymoron.

My development managers are trying real hard to get me NOT to use them because they are concerned that they cannot ensure that it won’t fail.

for example their recommendations are:

  1. using an insane amount of PU coatings to reinforce the fabric just for production and not for performance(they are actually trying to recommend me to use a PVC coating so it will hols stitching better. I asked them if they were joking…)
  2. using nonwoven recycled backer bonded to it making it unflexible and heavy
  3. increasing the dernier of the weave to near ballistic standards thus increasing cost and weight

At this point it is becoming pretty clear that this material is really not up to snuff. it is 20% more expensive per yard than comparable polyester thats not “as” eco friendly.

I won’t go on about the dyes they use for it, the polyester is hydrophobic so a water based die won’t hold to the fibers…vegetable dyes? Factory doesn’t like them as they cannot control the color…

My point is that despite my best intentions to get more eco-friendly, there are a lot more things barriers involved in the implementation than just sourcing a material and putting it to use in a performance application. I can’t just “make it so”. Moreover I have to convince the factories (both supplier and producer) to take a leap of faith and attempt to do so. They don’t get it yet.

Am I in despair? not really. It will work great for something; and there are other ones out there that I have yet to try. Its not been a waste but it has put a damper on our enthusiasm to save the world…

Hola Supernaut

shaking the tree once more

Then following your post, imagine just a short time that every attempt you did was succesfull…
does that mean we can go further without questioning how much we produce???

example: how many kind of basketball players or runners or tennis players can we define or how many ground surfaces are used???

example for runners: products should be made for hyper pronator, pronator, neutral, supinator.
in silos like training, semi-comp competition. 11 to 16 different products max…not 60

do we need
120$-130$-140$-150$-160$-170$-180$-190$-200$-210$-230$-250$- price point
every season for a decent collection??

then do we need the 4 to 5 colorways per price point?? okay, now turn these numbers for men women and kids. now per categories running, soccer football Bball outdoor, tennis indoor, baseball olympic sports, training . Only in sport performance or sport related the last decade, we created a jungle of pieces of footwear…

can we name lately what kind of species came out of this jungle??

yes, barricade feather, agassis if u play tennis, kayano, ds trainer, pegasus, supernova, wave rider if u run predator, total 90, vapor, tunit if u play soccer, jordans, lebrons, flight, Tmac, iverson if u Bball, stabil if u hand ball, air maxes, tuned air, presto, free, kukinis,rejuven8 ect if u life style sporty. soooooo few compared to whats around.

Now that u want to save this planet, what if we come back to the mid nineties when we had probably only in footwear at adidas for instance 12 to 14 different models to fit all kind of runners who wanted to run this brand at that time.

it is aproximately the number of ref Asics europe had 4 to 5 years ago. then for colorways, make different combination of the same model by area of the world, the welthiers will order their produt in brazil with a carbon footprint taxe (due to the flight)

this idea recalls simply what i sugested with my early post above.

before adressing a new business model and creating new processes why don’t we reduce the jungle??

believe me it is not only about pollution, global warming, it is all about the waste of resources, whether its green or not.

our call.

Thank you Supernaut! That is incredibly useful information and I will pass it along. I am using recycled meshes in a non performance application (but it does have to get through the making process). I will pass along my experience if I find anything useful. Heading to DG next week.

I am using recycled meshes in a non performance application

Recycled PET mesh works great and recycled bamboo works well for linings.