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out 11, 2017

Brazil’s footwear selection is strides ahead

It might not be the most obvious thing for a country famed for its barbecues, but Brazil’s vegan scene is growing – and with it, the selection of footwear is expanding too. Concerned with the environmental impact, with a selection of companies leading the way when it comes to vegan footwear, Brazil is increasingly becoming a leader in an unexpected field.

For many vegans, footwear poses a dilemma. Circumventing shoes that contain animal elements – from leather itself down to dye – proves almost impossible for most consumers. And even if you do find that, how can you know that they haven’t come in to contact with animal product, when they were most likely made in the same factory as leather shoes?

Nor does this dilemma only affect those with dietary requirements, as more and more people choose to try and avoid harmful environmental practices. But for many, seeking out environmentally-friendly footwear is a serious hurdle.

 “The fashion industry and the leather tanning industry rarely care about the origin or cycle closure of their products, and cause enormous damage to the environment,” said Insecta Shoes owner Barbara Mattivy. Like her colleagues at Insecta, Mattivy believes that producing vegan shoes is one way to tackle the global fashion industry’s high levels of waste and pollution. “Our shoe, besides being vegan, is ecological, and it proposes to think the cycle from beginning to end.”

Brazil is leading the market in this seemingly niche field. Widely applicable and marketable to a range of different consumers, vegan footwear could be the next big thing. As two Brazilian firms are showing, vegan footwear doesn’t mean boring canvas pumps or ugly, clunky clogs. Instead, both Ahimsa and Insecta are showing consumers how they can be both stylish and sustainable in one go. Insecta has also taken advantage of the growing international demand for a more sustainable shoe: in addition to four stores in Brazil, the brand has also managed to open multiple stores in the US, Canada, Germany and Spain.

Mattivy isn’t necessarily sure that vegan clothing will become the next big fashion trend, but is certain that the fashion industry is heading towards greater environmental conscientiousness. “Awareness for sustainable fashion is increasing a lot,” they said. “People are reflecting more about their living standards and questioning some habits, and this is a movement that is yes, in constant growth. I think that veganism is allied to all this, because it is not only a concern for animal welfare, but environmental as well.”