Rubber shoes are all the rage. Sustainability experts have doubts

It’s a big opportunity for the luxury industry, says Mulvihill. “With a new generation of consumers and luxury items still objects of desire, the reality is that luxury brands have the most margins to innovate. The future of luxury is a place where new materials can be a bit more expensive, but they can be showcased and marketed in a new way. Luxury businesses can either adapt or new businesses will be created, but those that can actually find and bring sustainable solutions to market will win. “

What’s key is that brands maintain honest communication with consumers, says Dio Kurazawa, founder of The Bear Scouts, a sustainability consultancy that works with Ssense, LN-CC and Browns. “There is a trend in responsible fashion and the technology gets better with it, but the problem is, some brands are still not completely honest. Shoes are never 100% rubber, and while we are improving, neither are they completely biodegradable. Several manufacturers, such as Bolflex, are focused on developing solutions, but it’s still a work in progress, he says.

The speed of the fashion cycle has accelerated over the years, thanks in large part to social media. Experts are convinced that gorpcore and rubber shoes are unlikely to disappear anytime soon, but brands risk sacrificing their sustainability ambitions by quickly jumping on a trend.

Bottega Veneta, along with brands like Alyx and Carlotha Ray, are moving the rubber style beyond boots to more comfortable shoe categories like slip-ons, thongs and sandals, suggesting the trend is sustainable, according to MatchesFashion’s Smart. Ssense will offer more rubber footwear for the AW21 season, including platform clogs soon to be released by Gucci and new styles from Merrell and Fear of God, said Brigitte Chartrand, vice president of women’s clothing purchasing at Ssense. . The brands declined to comment.

As the gorpcore trend has been around for quite some time, brands can expect to continue to be interested in rubber footwear, Hope Allwood predicts. This is all the more reason for them to invest in greater sustainability, both during production and for the end-of-life phase, experts say.

Editor’s Note: Updates have been made to the second paragraph to include Bottega Veneta’s comment on the biodegradability of her boots.

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