Walking along the beach one day near his home in Italy, Verdura spotted a fishing net stuck on a rock. The fine gauge net had previously been banned by the European Union because it captured young fish and endangered many species. Intrigued by the material, he picked it up, stepped into it and noticed how it naturally conformed to the shape of his foot.
Verdura’s design instincts quickly surfaced, realizing he could craft shoes from the material while at the same time making an impact on the environment. Verdura’s first step is to have the nets cleaned, cut and washed to soften them. Then they’re dyed with natural pigments. Verdura realized he could further impact the environment by incorporating materials such as cork for the anatomical footbeds and waste leather from shoe production for the back strap of the sandals. Soles include both recycled Vibram rubber and cork or vegetable-tanned leather.
The collection of women’s, men’s and kids’ boots and sandals, soft-launched in 2015 in boutiques in Italy and Spain. This month, they’ll be available in the U.S. on a limited basis via a Kickstarter campaign. With only seven days left to the campaign, those pledging $80 or more will receive a pair of sandals on a Vibram sole, while a pledge of $110 or more, will entitle the sponsor to a pair of boots on a Vibram sole.
Beginning in August, the shoes will be sold at H. Lorenzo in West Hollywood, Calif., and The Piece Collective in Venice, Calif. Retail prices range from $120 to $140 for sandals; $180 to $200 for short boots, and $70 to $80 for children’s sandals.
The Italy-based company is also partnering with Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an international, nonprofit marine wildlife conservation organization. Its mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the oceans. Sea Shepherd will be providing Verdura with quantities of net that the company will recycle for use in its footwear.