Brands Prioritize Sustainability at Sole Commerce in NYC

Sustainability is quite the buzzword in fashion these days and the footwear industry is taking note. This season at Sole Commerce and Coterie, a variety of brands showcased shoes made from eco-alternative materials such as food waste and recycled plastics.

Casey Dworkin of Sylven New York showed off her sustainable line for the first time at the trade show. Her booth included an array of fashion-forward shoes made out of vegan and vegetable-dyed leather. The designer also had a series of boots made out of apple skin, a food waste textile that mimics the touch and feel of leather.

“We’re really excited to include apple leather in our collection,” said Dworkin, who added that the textile drew curiosity from a range of buyers who attended the New York-based show.

Dworkin’s booth inside the Javits Center also featured sneakers with Lacta Hevea outsoles, which are comprised of all-natural latex made from the milk of the hevea rubber tree. She plans to release the sneakers later in the year.

The designer, who has incorporated sustainability since the start of her label in 2017, said it took over a year and a half to find the right materials for her sneaker. She added that her team is constantly on the lookout for new materials that are environmentally conscious and stylish for the brand.

“We are constantly Googling new materials to look into,” said Dworkin. “It’s a combination of research and collaboration.”

DNA Sustainable Footwear, sneaker, camo, sole commerce
DNA Sustainable sneaker.
CREDIT: Madeleine Crenshaw

DNA Footwear was also present at the Sole Commerce show. The brand displayed its DNA Sustainable collection that features sneakers and slip-on shoes made out of organic materials and upcycled textiles.

Daniel Kahalani, the CEO of DNA Footwear, said the brand has evolved its sustainability efforts since 2012 when it launched its #ReduceReuseRepresent initiative that gave customers a 10% discount when they reused their DNA Footwear bags to shop future purchases.

“Over the past seven years we’ve made an effort to omit single-use bags in our store. Finding a way to make our shoes more eco-conscious was naturally the next step for us,” said Kahalani.

Some notable footwear options spotted at the brand’s booth included shoes constructed with PET bottle uppers and recycled mattress insoles from the brand’s “This Was a Bottle” line.

“It takes about six bottles for the high top, and five for the low top, shoes in our ‘This Was a Bottle’ collection,” said Daniel Kahalani the CEO of DNA Footwear.

The DNA Sustainable collection also includes sneakers made from coconut husk footbeds and natural cork trim.

Other brands at Sole Commerce that displayed sustainable footwear included Camper, which doesn’t use toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde, chrome VI and heavy metals in its productions. Steve Madden also showed off a sustainable project at Sole Commerce that’s currently in the works.

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