“Life isn’t perfect, but your sneakers can be.”

“Life isn’t perfect, but your sneakers can be.”

In a world where sneakers speak louder than words and where people notice your footwear before the colour of your eyes, we have to change the way we shop and be confident to wear our conscience on our feet - to be confident to showcase to the world our principles and what we stand for.

We have to be just as proud about being waste conscious, as we are about style. I have worked in fashion and art all my life.  Working at the forefront of fast fashion –chasing style, brands, designers and the way people wanted to shop, and it had its pressures and challenges.

Having co-founded Generous APE with Hugo, we have made sure that we still work at the forefront of style, creating a destination that is easy for people to shop and easy to understand. Easy to make choices and ensure that “every purchase has purpose.”

But where is the conscience about what happens to these products when you no longer want them? When will we be responsible to “own our own waste?” This has led to us at GenerousAPE partnering with people and brands that give solutions to waste, innovation for a better tomorrow and still with style at the forefront of creation. 

Ed Temperley, co-founder, WAES footwear says "Our shoes really are the world's first zero-waste plastic free 100% biodegradable sneakers. You can chop them up and chuck them in your compost when you’re done with them, or you can return them to us and we’ll dispose of them. The idea is to create a fully circular product."

GenerousAPE is the sweet-spot between style and sustainability.  We believe that

Without style we can’t inspire a new conscious culture. 

Without culture we won’t create a demand. 

Without a demand we won’t change the way people shop. 

Without change we won’t have a tomorrow. 

So why sneakers.

Once an equaliser, luxury brands have made the sneaker a symbol of economic inequality which goes against the original ethos of sneakers. Luxury brands have used the sneaker to engage the youth.

Sneakers go back a long way. In the late 18th century, people wore rubber soled shoes called plimsolls, but they were pretty crude, there was no right foot or left foot. Around 1892, the U.S. Rubber Company came up with a more comfortable rubber sneakers with canvas tops, called Keds. By 1917, these sneakers began to be mass produced. They got the nickname sneakers because they were so quiet, a person wearing them could sneak up on someone.

In 1923, an Indiana hoops star named Chuck Taylor endorsed the first shoe made just for basketball, called Converse All-Stars.  They became known as Chuck Taylor All-Stars. These are the best-selling basketball shoes of all time.  Sneakers went international in 1924. That?s when a German man named Adi Dassler created a sneaker that he named after himself: Adidas. This brand became the most popular athletic shoe in the world. Track star Jessie Owens wore Adidas when he won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics. Adi’s brother Rudi started up another famous sports shoe company: Puma.

During the first half of the 20th century, sports shoes were worn mostly to play sports. But in the 1950s, kids began wearing them as fashion statements. Even more teens followed the fad after seeing James Dean in sneakers in the popular movie Rebel Without a Cause.

Sales of sneakers really took off in 1984, when Michael Jordan signed a contract to wear a Nike shoe called Air Jordans, the most famous sneaker ever made. 

Beyond the courts and pitches, sneakers were also increasingly seen on the streets. A staple of the burgeoning hip-hop and rap scene, trainers graced the feet of everyone from LL Cool J to Grandmaster Flash to Run-DMC, existing as part of a sportswear-predicated aesthetic born out of black communities and artists, largely in east coast American cities. It’s a legacy that continues to this day, with many endorsements and collaborations along the way, including Jay Z’s deal with Reebok in 2003 and Kanye West’s best-selling Adidas Yeezys.

Sneakers are now both ubiquitous and plural in their meanings. They speak to and participate in everything from class, to sports interests, to culture, to music taste, to a desire to bound around without feeling encumbered by uncomfortable footwear.

Today, sneakers have become a currency of their own.

Last year the global athletic footwear market was projected to hit $95.14 billion by 2025, a near doubling from the 2016 valuation (55 billion). According to the World Footwear Yearbook, over 24 billion pairs of shoes are produced annually (primarily under exploitative conditions) with sneakers accounting for the largest share.

Bernardo Pedroso, founder and CEO of Ocean Refresh says his vision is a world that no longer produces new plastic products, and starts re-cycling what we already have. "We must also, continually, find new ways to create products that don’t harm our environment."

So what are the environmental consequences of the rapidly growing sneaker industry?

  • Sneaker production is exceptionally carbon intensive, accounting for 1.4% of the global Co2 emissions (air travel is  2.5%  of all emissions).
  • A Single pair of running shoes generates approx 13.6 kilograms of CO2 emissions.
  • 1 in 3 sneaker companies have a sustainability program in place.
  • Trainers are literally made from plastic, synthetic rubber and glue.
  • Plastic is 99% petroleum.
  • Don’t be fooled when they are called “vegan.” They probably are still plastic.
  • 90% of shoes end up in landfill
  • Some souls take 1,000 years to decompose.

Sam Carew, founder of Elliott Footwear says "to date we have offset over 600 metric tonnes of CO2   - it’s like the weight of the Eiffel tower.  We are totally heading in the right direction.”

What you can do.

  1. Vote with your money for the practices and production that you believe in.
  2. Choose brands that use a combination of natural and recycled materials.
  3. Choose brands that are committed to reducing their carbon footprint.

Love your eco-sneakers, like the good friends they are.

Shop Waes - plastic-free, biodegradable

Shop Elliotts - climate positive, vegan

Ocean Refresh - crafted from Ocean Plastic, vegan

Shop Sans Matin - handmade, locally sourced and reduced carbon footprint

Trace - mindfully-made, reduced carbon footprint

Unseen - handcrafted with artisanal production techniques.

Shop all sneakers. The GenerousAPE edit.