How This Female-Founded Shoe Brand Is Merging Sustainability With Trend-Driven Style

As sustainable footwear brands increasingly become the norm rather than the exception, women’s brand Avre has joined the movement.

Launched in late 2019, the direct-to-consumer label is produced with recycled fibers by market leader Repreve Our Ocean, which utilizes plastic water bottles at high risk of entering the ocean, while its insole cushioning is made of recycled cork and outsoles from rubber.

Focused on athletic-inspired looks for today’s modern woman, co-founder Julie Kuo acknowledges there’s competition in both the sustainability and athleisure spaces. “What sets us apart is the fashion side of the business,” she said. “A lot of other [brands focus] on more simple silhouettes. We add the fashion aspect, which surprises a lot of our consumers.”

While the collection, featuring comfortable knit uppers has a sporty spin, Kuo emphasized that she, along with sister and co-founder, Connie Kuo, don’t want the collection to be perceived as strictly athleisure wear, but styles that can be incorporated into everyday life. “It’s become more socially acceptable to have casual footwear seen on women, than 4-inch heels, even when walking into a boardroom,” said Kuo.

The Kuos are also championing social causes, making their voices heard when it comes to women’s empowerment. Even the brand’s name, an acronym for — authentic, versatile, responsible, empowered — embodies the brands multi platforms.  “It’s all about empowering women,” said Kuo. “It starts when you’re young. You have to let little girls know they are able to achieve everything they want, but at the same time give them the tools to succeed.”

Both Julie, 40, and Connie, 36, learned the shoe business early on, growing up in their family’s footwear company, East Lion Corp., which produces the Qupid line of accessibly-priced fashion looks.

Avre’s Limitless slip-on sneaker.
CREDIT: Courtesy photo/Avre

“We learned to be really passionate about what you do,” said Julie Kuo, who balances work with home life as the mother of two young daughters. “It’s not always going to be a great day and you have to have the passion to stick it through, especially when it comes to fashion which can be great one day and can change the [next]. You need to adjust to that.”

The sisters are also giving back to communities in need by donating 10% of all proceeds to Oceana, which protects the world’s oceans, and Girls in Tech, an organization committed to building a diverse and inclusive tech workforce.

The shoes, which are also packaged in recycled boxes, retail for $95 – $150 and is available on avrelife.com.

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