These days, the propensity in the fashion world for established brands to tack sustainability and good-will onto their end missions has led to some interesting (and less than genuine) places—“green” Gucci, anyone?
But alongside the trendy zeitgeist of eco-centric selling points, several up-and-coming brands are making noise in the style world. And rather than merely dressing themselves in ornamentation of sustainability, they’re actually built upon the values that they preach.
Piola, the hybrid shoe brand/economic development firm was founded by four Parisian friends, Augustin, Josh, Quentin, and Antoine. The idea for the brand was born out of a trip to Peru where Antoine was working for an NGO. Witnessing first-hand the tremendous potential for organic cotton and rubber latex sourcing, the friends developed a business plan to connect consumers directly to Peruvian production shops. Piola aims for 360 degree transparency throughout their business, and as such, their development projects (which help Peruvian sourcing workshops become independent) are emphasized just as much as the shoes they produce.
Enlisting the design chops of eccentric bootmaker Eugene Riconneaus, Piola shoes channel a well-considered minimalism that blends sneaker and dress shoe for incredible versatile wear. The line’s playful subversion of traditional lines and finishing details reinforces the brand’s notion that sustainability needn’t equate to quaint or shoddy design. Instead, Piola pushes the definition of sustainable craft and reinterprets what a fashion brand can do.