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Walk this WAES for ethical footwear

Looking for cool kicks and a clean conscience? Meet WAES, designed in Devon and the world's first (yes, really) plastic-free trainer.

Sustainable fashion may be having a moment, but WAES are the real deal, a zero-plastic, 100% biodegradable sneaker with soles made from hand-poured natural rubber. And they were invented here in Devon, by Ed Temperley (cuz of fashion designer Alice) and shoemaker Damian Quinn.

Hip, but never hippy, WAES are totally on trend, with an androgynous tennis shoe vibe that suits you or him, and looks the biz with everything from a floaty dress to this year’s wide legs. They’re soooo comfy, even your granny would love them (we won’t tell if you don’t). Plus, they’re made to last – WAES want you to buy them as infrequently as possible. Amazing, huh?

‘Yeah, yeah’, you say, ‘there are LOADS of ethical brands out there’ but according to Ed, a typical pair of ‘eco shoes’ has less than 30% rubber and 70% of the sole will be artificial plastic. Whereas everything in a pair of WAES has been chosen for its ethics, from the conifer glue and plastic-free thread to the organically-tanned leather.

Why does this matter? Well, it’s obvious when you think about it but each of us sheds micro-plastics from our shoes every day and because of the way it’s delivered direct into the environment, it goes straight into the earth, rivers and streams. Awful thought, isn’t it?

Having launched in lockdown, far from sitting on their laurels the pair have already created launched a robust Water Collection which has a durable coating (tech-phobes look away now). It’s made from nano-quartz, basically microscopic grains of sand which bond at a molecular level. So, wine, coffee, baby goop: whatever you spill on your sneakers, the liquid just beads and rolls off.

Starting at under 100 quid, shoes come in a range of covetable high tops, leather, suede and vegan options, with a range of cool colours and all plastic-free, including the packaging which is made from locally produced (to their Porto base) Port wines boxes.

So, if you don’t like the thought of what 20 billion pairs of plastic shoes are doing to the planet, here’s your chance to put your best foot forward and do something about it.

Find more ideas here

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