Vagabond Shoemakers, the Swedish fashion footwear brand, knows that you won’t hang on to most pairs of shoes indefinitely. Eventually, after many miles of walking, they’ll start to fall apart. While shoes can usually be repaired a few times, there is some disrepair that can’t be fixed. Or perhaps you can’t afford to repair a pair of shoes that may fall apart again quickly. Maybe you’re just ready for a new style. There are lots of reasons to give up on a pair of shoes. But now there’s no excuse for simply throwing it away; that creates textile waste and feeds into a cycle of fast fashion that values new things over quality and the human work behind each item.
According to the World Wear Project, consumers throw away an average of 70 pounds of clothing and shoes per person, of which 85% of the parts will go into landfills. Further, 95% of what is found in landfills is actually recyclable.
Swedish-designed, Italian-made shoe brand Vagabond is making it easier than ever to be sustainable with your footwear with the Shoe Bring Back program.
The program takes place in select Vagabond stores in Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Poland. Used shoes can be discarded there, where they are then sent to I:Collect, the organization that has developed a logistical system for textile circularity. The shoes are taken apart and either recycled or upcycled.
This is great news for decreasing textile waste; we so often see the discussion centred on clothing and accessories such as shoes and bags, which are frequently used daily and endure hard usage (ever spent a day walking in heels? Your feet aren’t the only things that suffer!). “Shoes are a very small part of the total apparel segment,” says Anna Fahle Björcke, Head of Brand Communication at Vagabond, “It is important to remember that shoes are complex and contain a vast number of spare parts in different materials. To break this down, prioritize and work systematically with each from a sustainable perspective is a challenge.”
This is just step one in Vagabond’s sustainability work. Alongside the Shoe Bring Back initiative, they’re working to spread information about their products and how to dispose of them properly. They’re also aiming for less material and water waste in their production, as well as use of alternate, more sustainable materials in their shoes and accessories.To this end, they are working with Swedish laboratory Swerea to create an innovative new glue that will be more durable and environmentally-friendly.
It’s wonderful to see brands that already create high-quality products take responsibility for pushing forward with sustainability initiatives. So wear your shoes with pride, and when they’re no longer wearable, bring them back to a Vagabond store.
Find out more about the Shoe Bring Back initiative.