For those on the hunt for a pair of practical yet chic shoes that also do some good in the world, Alice + Whittles may provide the answer. The Geneva-based brand has launched a new website in conjunction with an expanded rubber-footwear collection for fall ’15.
The brand has also partnered with nine international artists in a push to illustrate its commitment to working with artisans. Alice + Whittles co-founder Sofi Khwaja told Footwear News that the site is designed to be a digital reflection of what the brand is doing daily.
Alice + Whittles, which was founded in 2014, employs ethical and transparent practices to create its shoes, including using natural rubber because it’s both more durable and planet-friendly. “Keeping rubber trees in the ground is also a huge carbon sink,” says Khwaja. “So it has a positive environmental impact.”
Alice + Whittles produces its rubber shoes and boots in Sri Lanka, a country that has a long history of rubber production. “It’s not about charity — it’s about empowering and creating a self-sufficient community by giving people the tools to move forward, allowing them to define their own needs and, as a result, having long-term effects,” says Khwaja.
Khwaja says the decision to widen the rubber-footwear category came from necessity. “When we looked to our own suitcases, we saw a real need to expand on the essential rubber shoes because there weren’t a lot of great options that reflected our aesthetic and ethical sensibilities when it came to fall shoes.”
Her favorite style? The brand’s black-and-white ankle boot, which retails for $180. “It can take us from a variety of climates with ease, whether it’s the forests of Sri Lanka or the streets of Geneva and Toronto.”
On Wednesday, Alice + Whittles launched its new website after working with digital artists and designers. “Now, when people visit our site, they can explore the significance of the work we are doing in an online space and not just through our product alone.”
The site goes beyond being a place to purchase the brand’s shoes, Khwaja says — the brand hopes customers get a better understanding of how exactly their purchases can affect others. “Whether they connect with us through our products or the artists we showcase on the site, we want people to feel that they are a part of an intricate fabric and that they can inspire change through their purchasing decisions.”