According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, Americans throw away at least 300 million pairs of shoes each year. These shoes end up in landfills, where they can take up to 30 to 40 years to decompose. If the environment matters to you, so should clothing and accessories that last.
Pretty much everyone needs shoes. Odds are you're wearing them right now, and yet, most people never think about what it means to buy shoes from an American manufacturer. Do you? Maybe that’s how you found this article. Maybe you’re a fan of shoe sustainability, giving back to charities or just the latest styles, but each of these inclinations can save jobs right here in the US at a time when it’s needed most. You might be tempted to think that stylish shoes aren’t comfortable, but when you’re a local shop like COMUNITYmade, the benefits are clear.
We are all too used to high-production shoes. Think about it – even the NBA offers sneaker deals to sell as many of certain types of shoe they can. At the end of the day, it ends up being a statement of brevity – those shoes will be replaced with newer styles that quickly eclipse the old in sales, save for the few collectors. Being US-based (especially in LA) gives you numerous benefits as a consumer, and being fresh is one of them. Why blend in with the crowd, when you could have a custom embroidered, laser-etched premium leather shoe at a price comparable to mass-produced signature basketball sneakers? You have a unique shoe made especially for you, and even if you get a style that was made in a limited-production run, you have the benefit of knowing that few exist in the same style.
Now, all of this style talk doesn’t even touch on the benefits of the variety in possible craftsmanship. Leather, suede, vegan material…wait, really? Yes, really. Those are just the materials; when you get artists together, the collaboration opportunities skyrocket. Laces, shapes and styles that are all fresher, bespoke and impactful. Only when we have a variety of shoes do we know what we like, and custom or limited-run shoes have that in spades.
When was the last time you felt that the quality or comfort of your shoes were a distinguishing trait? Too many people accept cheap materials in their casual footwear, causing quicker wear, ripped seams and torn soles. Quality is at the top of the customer benefits list, mostly because they are shoes that last and, even more importantly, can be maintained.
When was the last time you contacted your big conglomerate shoe company about a ripped sole because you liked the shoe so much? That happens more often that you’d think, when you grow attached to your footwear. If you’re on your feet often and had a pair of shoes that helped your feet survive the day, you may have had to go through insoles or other gel fixes to force your shoes to be better for your specific feet. Imagine the comfort that you could achieve with made-to-fit shoes. The last thing you want to worry about is whether or not you can walk in your shoes; quality is key. Most shoes have sizing for multiple countries, so even foot shape and design has been standardized for literally every foot in the world. What about your foot? COMUNITYmade, once again, comes through with a fit designed for the US.
A young factory worker sits hunched over, sweating profusely, with furrowed brows, as he stitches the last thread through a shoe. He doesn't know who will sell the shoe, or who it's even going to – just that he has been forced to do this. When you buy cheaply made products from a large company that relies on overseas production, you are indirectly supporting that kind of production. By buying locally made goods, you can build a real connection with your community right now. If everyone shifted to American products, the economy would, no doubt, increase and create jobs for your neighbors, loved ones or even you.
Buy shoes, wear the shoes down, then throw them away. That’s what most do with cheap shoes. It’s polyester and cardboard with some foam and rubber – what reason not to throw it away when it’s broken? Well, that can lead to a lot of waste. Shoe repair is something you'd probably consider if you really love a pair of shoes, but even your casual shoes should be worth the consideration. According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, Americans throw away at least 300 million pairs of shoes each year. These shoes end up in landfills, where they can take up to 30 to 40 years to decompose. If the environment matters to you, so should clothing and accessories that last.
Sustainability is everywhere right now. What does it really mean? Well, for starters, it means shorter supply lines that waste less energy getting the product from the manufacturer to you. Ships travel across the ocean, causing pollution, accidental sea creature death and detrimental change to wildlife patterns. Even more so, countries in certain areas of the world don't care about the pollution that their production is causing, which results in the poisoning of their populations in large amounts. Most people may not know this, but large-run shoes don’t always sell out, which, unfortunately, leads to thousands of shoes getting burned.
It's becoming more and more obvious that sustainability has a real social impact for good, but it can also be good for business. Style is changing daily, with unique designs shooting through popular culture like lightning. Large-run shoe designs have a shelf life, and then what? If you’re a business, how do you sell a shoe that’s now “old news"? COMUNITYmade is a great example of a company that shifts with the ongoing styles of the country. Their new golf shoe is a great example, and their shoes are made possible by real artisans on-site making custom or limited-run shoes styles. Does the shoe you just bought have a flaw? Too much heel rub perhaps? It can be fixed, no problem. COMUNITYmade can work with how the shoe was made, adjust toe size, padding, placement so that you don’t compromise with another sole insert. Next time you consider a shoe, get one with soles and soul.
Purchasing a specialty shoe will depend on what exactly you are looking for, in terms of performance. There are many different types of footwear to consider when shopping for a new pair of shoes, so always be sure to consider the arch type you have and keep its intended purpose in mind, as they are all designed to fit a specific need.