PM: VAGABOND SHOEMAKERS ENGAGES IN THE LEATHER WORKING GROUP
Important parts in shoe production have to do with looks, feel, durability and quality. Hence, Vagabond Shoemakers emphasizes a lot on careful development and selection of materials.
The Swedish fashion shoe brand has been in the industry for more than thirty years. Ever since the start, the idea has been about offering designer shoes for a global audience, by knowing all there is to know about and shoemaking. Obviously, a big part of this is about materials. “No doubt leather has unique properties for shoes; it shapes, breathes and stands wear and tear like no other materials yet available on the market”, says Anna Fahle Björcke, Head of Communications at Vagabond.
The leathers used in our shoe production are bi-products of the meat industry and as such a solution for sustainable use of the whole animal. Nevertheless, the preparation of the raw hides to finished quality leather, is a quite resource intense process with several environmental aspects to keep in mind. To tackle these challenges, industry cooperation is needed. Therefore, Vagabond now engages in the Leather Working Group (LWG), both by becoming a member of the group and by selecting leather only from tanneries rated by the Leather Working Group. “Even if we have the material knowledge and inhouse capability to select quality leather suppliers, we have been looking for a forum where we can cooperate broadly with other brands on the environmental agenda and work together with the challenges that the tannery industry is facing as a whole.”
As for today most of our current leather suppliers are already rated by the LWG and a couple remains in process. “It is our intention to encourage and support the ones that are not yet certified to become members by the LWG within the next 2-3 years”, says Anna Fahle Björcke.
NEW MATERIAL FOR THE FUTURE
Everybody talks about Tencel™, the cellulose material with cotton-like properties which can help to ease the strain on our planet.
Starting 2019, we introduce Tencel™ in our collections as an alternative to the GOTS cotton and as one of the actions to reduce our water footprint. The Tencel™ Lyocell fibers originate from wood derived from responsible forestry. Tencel production is a closed loop process that significantly reduces the need of water, energy and chemicals in the manufacturing of the material. “We introduce Tencel™ as an alternative to the organic GOTS-certified cotton. Not only is this good for the planet, but the material also has the gentle feel against the skin and is moist-absorbing which makes it a suitable material for the inside of our shoes. We are happy with how it has turned out” says Ulrika Simonsson, Sustainability Manager at Vagabond.
For the best durability of a shoe, high-quality glue needs to be used when mounting crucial parts, like the outsole. Inevitably, these glues contain substances which could be harmful to man or planet if not handled correctly.
In our continuous strive to reduce risks of harm to people or planet, we decided to join forces with SWEREA, a Swedish test and research laboratory, in a project aiming to improve the glues that are currently used and find more healthy alternatives. “Current glues have been modified and the first tests with alternative methods have been conducted in our own workshop in Varberg and even if there are more to do before we can launch in the producing units, the results are promising” says Maria Olander, Head of Design at Vagabond Shoemakers.
SHOE BRING BACK WORLDWIDE
Now all Vagabond concept stores in selected cities in Europe are able to offer Shoe Bring Back, a combined reuse and recycle service which is revolutionary for the shoe business.
Last out were the stores in Moscow and St Petersburg and the response has been very positive from day one. “We are so pleased that we can now offer this project in all stores” says Anna Fahle Björcke, Head of Communications at Vagabond. “With Shoe Bring Back we want to set light on the importance of reuse and recycling. Most of our shoes are not sold through our concept stores, but by developing this service in our own channels we want to encourage and invite to talk about, and act to close the loop”.