Fashion

The Best New Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Sneaker Brands

Socially conscious trainers from the likes of Good News and Stepney Workers Club.
IMAGE ESQUIRE
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The on-going battle between the top global sneaker brands, with their constant innovations and redesigns, has kept competition firmly at bay. Adidas and Nike have maintained a firm grip on the helm, with New Balance, Reebok, and Vans putting up a valiant fight to try and break their stranglehold. Luxury brands like Gucci, Balenciaga, and Prada have relished the opportunity to get in on the action with their own eye-catching designs. Meanwhile, shoes from the likes of Yeezy, Common Projects and McQueen continue to inspire feverish fandoms. Amongst all of that, it's easy to forget about the little guys.

But we shouldn't. As the drive for sustainability in fashion becomes more prevalent, so too does a craving for something a little different. A David to challenge the sneaker Goliath. Now, once again, the landscape is being altered—but not from the usual money makers, but from the underground. Start-up style footwear brands are breathing new life into the industry, with fresh approaches to eco-conscious materials.

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As we know, the trends of fashion are often cyclical. For now, the dad sneaker is enjoying the spotlight, but they'll soon return to the IBM locker room, and the multi-layered, double-super-triple S thing is moving on. So in preparation for that, here are five game-changing sneaker brands we think you should know about.

1| Stepney Workers Club

Photo by ESQUIRE.
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‘Freedom of Sport, Freedom of Thought’ is the mantra behind East London based sneaker brand Stepney Workers Club. Their small, considered collection is built from classic silhouettes, inspired by the idea of the perfect, genderless shoe and the bygone era of sporting social clubs. Their logo, a simple handshake, symbolizes the inclusive nature they hope to achieve through their clean-cut designs. Their affordable full range now offers an array of shades and styles. One for every outfit? Why not.

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£65, Dellow Canvas, endclothing.com

2| Good News

Photo by ESQUIRE.
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Simply put, Good News is giving back, one step at a time. Not only are their silhouettes clean and nostalgic, harking back to the days of sliding around a cold, laminate gymnasium hall in PE, these minimalist, pump-style kickers also strive towards improving the social and environmental issues we face today. Their sneakers feature recycled rubber soles, organic cotton uppers, and a recycled eco-lite foot bed—a simple change, but one rarely seen with other brands. Furthermore, to this day they have provided 3000 pairs of shoes to migrants and refugees landing in Italy who need footwear. Now that is some good news.

SHOP

£110, Bagger 2, selfridges.com

3| OBRA

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Hard-wearing, aesthetically pleasing, Brazilian forged sneaker brand OBRA is like the younger, more aggressive brother of Converse. Inspired by durability, function, brutalist architecture and uncompromising quality. Obra has taken the process of creating footwear very seriously, with every element of the shoe’s production being obsessively considered, even down to developing a new intricate tool to engrave their signature wrap-around sole. Offering only five colorways with three variants to each style. they remain confident in their design vision. The brand also attempts to help improve equity in the creative industry for the younger generations. With a donation from each Obra sale, they support organizations focusing on the arts, education and civil liberties within local youth communities. 

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£69, Canvas High Wrap, oobbrraa.com

4| Primury

Photo by PRIMURY.
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For something a little different, look to Primury. Behind the London-born sneaker brand is a creative collective who share a desire to develop products that become everyday staples, yet have a playful, do-it-yourself design approach. Handcrafted in Portugal, their recently Selfridges stocked collection has an array of soothing colors. With their hallmark chunky sole, crumpled-paper style undersole pattern and a chaotic approach to a lace-up system, they are the perfect addition to your sneaker rotation.

SHOP

£150, Jumbo cord grey, primury.com

5| Rombaut

Photo by FARFETCH.
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They've been around for six years, but Belgian footwear label ROMBAUT is still relatively unheard of. Learning from his past experience at Parisian fashion house Lanvin, creative director Mats Rombaut decided to venture off with a vision of his own. Conceptually crafting shoes that cross the gap between luxury footwear and environmental responsibility, Mats experiments with classic sneaker silhouettes to form new, minimalist contemporary styles. At the heart of ROMBAUT is Mats' passion for eco-conscious fabrics, striving to find better alternatives for the synthetic textiles, glues and tanning dyes more frequently used in sneaker production.

SHOP

£255, Chunky low-top, farfetch.com

FromEsquire UK

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