Shoe in water

Consumer Awareness and the Demand for Sustainable Footwear

Climate change has been a hot topic for years now. The continuous debate about provenance has brought attention to consumers and consumer habits. It is well known the impact of fashion on the environment, footwear is included in this. Statistics say: 24 billion pairs made per year and 1.4% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

In the last ten years more footwear brands have come out with a straight message on sustainability. So if they exist, it is because the consumer is becoming aware of the impact and giving hope through the action of buying consciously. A good example is Allbirds, born with that setting from the beginning. Few other examples: Veja, Vivobarefoot, Saloa, not to forget one of the pioneers on the luxury brands: Stella McCartney

The demand is growing and the existing brands are also taking action to revitalise their approach. Many of them setting different targets to quantify the lower impact. Such is the example of Keen that have committed themselves to eliminate PFCs in their footwear, or Icebug taking the initiative to place solar panels in a factory in Vietnam, involving all the Scandinavian and Nordic brands producing there. Often wellbeing and sustainability are working together, but confused in consumers mind. It does make sense that treating yourself well goes together with treating well the planet. A good example is the Barefoot trend and communities. The product brings a benefit to your health and if it is done with purpose and respect for the environment and the people is good.

Not all the time there is clarity of which one is which but there is hope behind that they will all bring a benefit after all. Endorsement from certified materials is becoming more and more common for the consumer and also for distribution channels. If there is a good appeal in the product, a promise of durability, and for a fair price. Leasing children’s gear does happen in Sweden, and the second hand market is quite popular in these countries. Of course these are the consumer’s habits changing in Europe and in the richest countries.

And these are the ones we can embrace and leave as a heritage to the developing markets and to the new generations. Actually the new generations are more demanding now!

Nina Conrad

About the Author

Rucky Zambrano


Rucky Zambrano is an Industrial Designer cultivated in the 80 ́s Milan’s Design enviroment. He shifted his career due to his passion for footwear when meeting Vibram in 1992. For 13 years, Rucky and Vibram have been propelling and changing the market from performance to fashion: Merrell Chameleon, Prada Luna Rossa boat shoe sole, and the latest  vibramfivefingers. Over the last 20 years he worked with different performance and fashion brands, launching new concepts for friend’s brands. Rucky is currently in charge of footwear for the Finnish children’s Outdoor brand Reima and is still connecting dots.

Go back

Exhibitor List March 2024