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Kate Gumbrell: My life happens in fast mode. I am eternally busy, I plan down to the last minute, and I hardly ever have a chance to catch my breath. But there is one thing that I make a point of doing slowly… fashion.
A year ago, I had no clue what ‘slow fashion’ meant. Yet, today it seems that ‘slow fashion’ is my new mantra. After watching the documentary ‘The True Cost Movie', I made the decision to limit my clothing consumerism to solely ethically sourced, made, and produced garments. I have always kept my ‘fashion footprint’ to a minimum, spending my weekends at second hand shops and attempting to fix and create my own clothes. However, I still chose to stay ignorant to the effects of the fashion industry on developing countries and the environment. The True Cost was the turning point for me. It hit me so hard that I genuinely felt a physical change in the way I thought, felt, and viewed the fashion industry. It all made sense! After being trained (along with the rest of the world) to expect to buy a dress for $5, I realised that for someone, somewhere, it was costing them their life.
Slow fashion embodies the idea that fashion needs to be taken back to a pace that is sustainable. It is a movement that encourages quality rather than quantity, zero waste, living wages, and low carbon footprints. Livia Firth is the leading figure in slow fashion and the founder of Eco-Age. Livia leads the Green Carpet Challenge in which she encourages celebrities to wear sustainably and ethically made garments when they walk the red carpet. From witnessing Livia’s global impact and influence in the fashion industry, I’ve come to hold Livia as a leading role model in my drive towards ethical fashion advocacy.
“Call it ‘eco fashion’ if you like, but I think it’s just common sense.”- Livia Firth.
There are many inspirational “sustainability warriors” such as Livia Firth, who are out there battling the devastation of ‘fast fashion’. Among them are the ethical brands: Po-Zu Footwear, Azura Bay, Kowtow, Braintree Clothing, and People Tree. These brands consciously craft their garments out of organic materials to create eco-friendly and ethically made clothes that are good for the planet and the people. Wearing their clothes gives me a sense of empowerment. Not only am I choosing to be excluded from the fast fashion consumerism demand, but when people ask me where my clothes come from I am able to tell my story and explain how they too can change their consumerism habits.
Learning about the devastation of ‘fast fashion’ can leave us all feeling disheartened, useless, and underpowered. But through purchasing from brands like these, and putting into action a few mindful steps, we can change our fashion footprint and aim towards a more sustainable fashion future.
Kate's FIVE Tips to a Sustainable Wardrobe:
Read more about Po-Zu's own sustainable approach here
Browse Po-Zu's current collection here
There are several reasons why choosing organic cotton is important for both the environment and the people who grow and pick it...
Organic September is a reminder to consider buying organic, as by doing so, you’ll not only be helping to protect our vital wildlife whilst reducing your own exposure to potentially harmful pesticides and chemicals - but you'll also be helping to support the farmers who work hard to grow our food and cotton crops for generations to come.
And going organic is easier than you’d think. From eating to wearing!
Many of our shoes including our Brisk sneakers pictured here have GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified organic cotton linings, and organic cotton canvas uppers and are also OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 certified.
Organic means higher levels of animal welfare, lower levels of pesticides, no manufactured herbicides or artificial fertilisers and more environmentally sustainable management of the land and wildlife.
Cotton is hypoallergenic (relatively unlikely to cause an allergic reaction) and dust-mite resistant, which means it is the best choice of material for people who suffer from allergies, or those who have sensitive skin prone to irritation. Natural fabrics allow for better air circulation, which helps absorb and remove body moisture.
Our organic cotton lining has a 30% blend of organic linen, which increases durability, and is also known to be a hypoallergenic and hygroscopic material - able to absorb moisture from the air, drawing heat away from the skin and keeping the feet cool and dry.
Cotton is also biodegradable and a renewable resource. During processing, less than 10% of it is lost or deemed non-usable. And of course, organic cotton is even better as no pesticides are used, which in turn means fewer chemicals in the environment and no harm to the people growing it.
Butterflies set our hearts aflutter. Our logo is built around a butterfly. The sole of our shoes features an interlaced butterfly pattern. And you’ll even find butterflies inside our shoes - they are part of what makes our shoes so comfortable. Our Butterfly Suspension Mechanism is embedded inside the sole, and features multiple butterfly-shaped shock-absorbing partitions that gently collapse once your foot hits the ground. So our butterflies help to soften the impact on hard surfaces and stop your feet feeling tired.
So we are delighted that our latest accreditation is called The Butterfly Mark. The Butterfly Mark is awarded by an organisation called Positive Luxury to companies who meet their social, environmental and ethical standards. We had to go through a three-stage screening process and we now join over 250 brands who have The Butterfly Mark, helping people to buy from trusted brands.
And why is it called the Butterfly Mark? We all know about the butterfly effect – that a butterfly flapping its wings on one side of the world can set off a hurricane on the other side of the world. And the choices that we make in what we buy can have a similar effect – positive or negative. But Diane Verde Nieto, the founder of Positive Luxury, also had a more positive personal reason for choosing the butterfly as a symbol.
In 2011, she met Sir David Attenborough at the Natural History Museum when she presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award. He told her the story about the reintroduction of the Large Blue Butterfly into Britain. The Large Blue became extinct in Britain in 1979, partly due to new farming methods. However, in 1983, conservationists started re-introducing the species from Sweden. Thanks to these efforts, it has become the most successful insect reintroduction programme in the world.
If you are looking to take your Po-Zus for a country walk, you can visit Collard Hill in Somerset, which is the only place in the UK you can freely go to see the butterfly. Between early June to early July when the butterflies are flying, nearly everyone manages to see a Large Blue, and there’s even a walking trail that you can follow.
If you manage to spot a Large Blue, we would love to hear from you! And if butterfly spotting is your thing, you can join in the Big Butterfly Count which takes place from 15 July – 7 August this year. We’ll be taking part so will remind you nearer the time as well.
And if you’re in London, you can visit the Sensational Butterflies exhibition at the tropical butterfly house at the Natural History Museum until 11 September. This is an opportunity to get up close to butterflies from around the world and learn more about these fascinating creatures. Who knows what effect they might have on you?
Here in the UK this May we celebrate National Walking Month, which aims to encourage us to walk more - whether walking to work, walking to school, exploring the countryside, or just walking to get as close to those recommended 10,000 steps a day as you can…
A short 20 minute walk can improve your well-being, and help you think things through away from the distractions of your everyday life.
Switch off, and be inspired by Living Streets’ campaign this year to #Try20 – that’s 20 minutes a day, so jump off the bus a couple of stops early, pop out at lunchtime to your nearest park, walk up stairs instead of taking the lift.
UK charity Living Streets want to create a walking nation, free from congested roads and pollution, reducing the risk of preventable illness – making walking the natural choice. Get outside, and enjoy the benefits that this simple act brings! Join thousands of people across the UK and pledge to #Try20 this May.
We hope our Brisk sneakers inspire you to #Try20! - Here are a few of the Men's collection:
We asked some of our customers to tell us why they chose to take their Po-Zu shoes out for a walk…
Walking benefits, from the Living Streets’ website:
HEALTH AND WELLBEING
Walking initiatives boost local economies and bring high streets to life. People want to live in places designed with everyone in mind, not just cars.
TRANSPORT AND ENVIRONMENT
Encouraging people to walk journeys of under two miles would significantly reduce carbon emissions, congestion and improve air quality.
LOCAL AND NATIONAL ECONOMY
Sedentary lifestyles are the greatest risk to today’s generation. Inactivity costs the UK economy £20 billion every year. Walking just 30 minutes five times a week can help reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
As Friedrich Nietzsche famously said: “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking”.
Read more of our favourite walking quotes here.
And find out how Po-Zu shoes got one man walking again after a rather horrible motorcycle accident here.
It’s easy to have a love/hate relationship with heels. You might have a favourite pair that you wear to work for important meetings or for a night out. Slipping into heels can – literally and metaphorically – help you to walk tall, giving you an extra boost of confidence. They're not called ‘power heels’ for nothing.
Research has shown that the gait of women wearing high-heeled shoes is deemed ‘significantly more attractive’ than women wearing flats, by men and women.
But the downside is that you know your feet are likely to be crying out for help by the end of the day or the evening. Perhaps you pack a pair of flat shoes to take along with you as the get-out clause. Whilst you may get the power boost, you are likely to not be getting the comfort.
There was a furore at the Cannes film festival in 2015 when a group of actresses were turned away from walking down the red carpet because they were not wearing high heels. This showed the extent of the expectations on women to wear high heels on certain occasions. We applauded Emily Blunt for taking a stand and saying "We shouldn’t wear high heels anyway". Women should be able to wear what they feel comfortable in and not be dictated to by archaic dress codes. (Although we don’t applaud her for saying "I prefer wearing Converse sneakers". Have you tried our Brisk, Emily?)
But if you do happen to be invited to a red carpet event, or just want a pair of shoes for the office or for a special occasion, there is an alternative to burning feet in heels. Help is at hand (or at foot), in our new range of Po-Zu heels and wedges.
We’ve designed them in such a way that you don’t need to compromise on comfort to enjoy that extra bit of height. Our Hi-Rise collection features a cork based contoured Foot Mattress, with shock absorbing natural latex inserts, a highly comfortable last shape, and a wooden wedge or heel that naturally absorbs impacts far better than the widely used hard plastic heels. The range includes elegant strappy and open-toed sandals, so we can help you find the perfect match for your occasion and outfit. Keep an eye on our blog for some inspiring fashion ensembles featuring great ethical and sustainable brands in the coming weeks.
Maura O’Neill, a business professor at the University of California Berkley, told a journalist for a Washington Post article about the impact of women wearing heels in a business setting; “My advice is: Show up who you are and own that. Heels or flats”. That seems like pretty good advice to us! And you can choose from Po-Zu heels or Po-Zu flats, knowing you’re not making any compromises. And surely a person who is comfortable in their own skin is the most confident and powerful of them all?
Pineapple and coconut are a match made in tropical heaven. At Po-Zu, we are coconutty about all things coconut – including our comfy coconut Foot Mattress and our edible coconut shoe cream. So imagine our excitement when we heard about a new leather-substitute material made from pineapple leaf fibres. We just knew that we had to create a tropical, sustainable dream of a vegan shoe.
Our new Spring Summer collection, launching in March 2016, sees the arrival of our beautiful new ballet pumps Ello, made using Piñatex. These shoes are some of the first products on the market made with this innovative material.
Dr Carmen Hijosa, CEO of Ananas Anam Ltd, has spent the last seven years researching and developing Piñatex. While working in the Philippines, Carmen became aware of the qualities of pineapple leaf fibres, including their fineness and strength. She began to explore possible ways to develop a new textile material that could be used as a replacement for leather.
Not only is Piñatex a breathable, biodegradable vegan material, the pineapple leaf fibres are a natural by-product of the pineapple harvest, using a material that would otherwise have gone to waste. No extra water, land, fertilisers or pesticides are required to produce them. In addition to the environmental benefits that this brings, it means extra income for the pineapple farming communities in the Philippines.
Sven Segal, Founder of Po-Zu, said, ‘We were so excited when we heard about Piñatex. We are always looking for new ways to further reduce the environmental impact of our shoes. We already use a coconut by-product to make our Foot Mattresses. So to be able to use a material made from pineapple fibres to make the uppers is a perfect fit.’
Although these shoes are ballet pumps, we think they’ll have you salsaing down the street, imagining a beach beneath your feet!
For the last nine years, we’ve been designing and making shoes with the aim of making each step you take a pleasure – in comfort, and with the comfort of knowing the shoes have been made in an ethical way.
Po-Zu means ‘Pause’ in Japanese, and sometimes it is good to pause in our journeys and take stock of where we are, and what direction we want to go in next. We’ve taken such a ‘pause’ to evaluate our business direction (albeit whilst still running the business at full speed). We asked our customers what they thought, and what they wanted to see more of from us – thank you to the many of you who took part in our customer survey. You wanted to see some new ranges from us, and you wanted to be able to get your hands on your new shoes more quickly, wherever you are in the world.
We’ve listened, and these were all things which we had been wanting to do too. So we’ve launched a crowdfunding campaign, to raise money which will help us to take this next important step on our journey – and to give you even more of what you want.
We are raising investment through the equity crowdfunding platform, Crowdcube. You can invest from as little as £10 and in return you will become a shareholder in the business. You will also receive some extra rewards from us, from our Edible Shoe Cream, to shoes, to a trip to Portugal to see how the shoes are made, with our founder Sven Segal. As the business grows, there will be the opportunity to make a return on your investment, as well as the satisfaction in knowing you are supporting an ethical enterprise, and therefore helping to make more of a positive impact.
The funds we raise will help us to launch our exciting new range of women’s high-heeled shoes next spring (yes, we listened and we’re delivering!), as well as a new men’s premium range next autumn. It will also help to fund our international expansion, as we meet the needs of our growing worldwide customer base.
If you are interested in investing and would like to find out more, you can join us at our crowdfunding party in London at the Impact Hub Islington on 1st December. Click here for further details and to RSVP.
We’d love for you to be part of of the next stage of our journey – and for you to own a piece of Po-Zu the company, as well as Po-Zu shoes! Please help us spread the word on social media by sharing this link with the hashtag #PoZuCrowd and even just by talking to people! The more people we can involve, the greater success we can make this campaign.
Join the #PoZuCrowd
May good soles be with you!
Transport for London have issued a new version of the design classic tube map. Focusing on Zones 1 and 2, it shows how long it takes to walk the journey between tube stations instead of riding the trains.
The number of minutes estimated for the journey if taken on foot have now been added between station names. So now you can gauge whether it is quicker to walk rather than use the underground service.
The map reveals some interesting statistics. Walking the short distance between Covent Garden and Leicester Square should save you time and money as the journey is less than five minutes on foot. Although if pressed for time, you probably wouldn't want to walk between Euston and South Hampstead as it takes a whopping 53 minutes, the longest journey listed for a single station link.
The new TFL map has been created in response to numerous customer requests and bases the times on those from the TFL journey planner. It is part of a wider initiative investing heavily to improve walking and cycling routes across London.
Now you have the perfect excuse to take your Po-Zu's for a stroll with the potential for a more interesting trip and health benefits to boot.
By Ali Clifford
Summer may have come and gone, but if there is one reason to celebrate the arrival of autumn, it’s the opportunity to (hopefully) start to slow down a little, take time for a little self-care in the run-up to winter and get cosy. And you can’t get much cosier than sheep’s wool, whether in the form of a blanket to get snuggly with, your favourite woolly sweater or scarf, or our Po-zus, where we take the opportunity to utilise this wonder material in as many different ways as possible.
We use extra soft unbleached pure wool fleece and felt linings in many of our boots to give that extra cosiness and warmth, at the same time as being breathable.
Our vegetarian Pep and Piper boots not only have a wool felt lining, but have a tweed outer too. The wool for the tweed comes from Jacob sheep, the very cute piebald black and white or brown and white sheep. The tweed is made using pure undyed wool, using mixtures created from the original colours of the sheep fleece.
All of the tweeds we use are British-made. Two of our favourite women’s boots, Liv Tan and Luna Black, are made with a Harris Tweed accent, bringing some country style to a boot that is also perfect for the urban wild. Harris Tweed is made from wool from sheep that have roamed the Scottish highlands and the unique colours come from the wool being dyed before it is spun, the opposite of most tweeds. We’re always blown away by the level of craftsmanship that goes into making Harris Tweed. All the tweed is hand woven on a treadle loom at each weaver’s home on the islands of the Outer Hebrides – the pedal power of the looms is not only energy efficient but keeps the weaver fit too!
If you’re not quite ready for boots, but still fancy some tweediness, check out one of our most popular lines, the Brisk, which comes in a grey tweed contrasted with a zing of fuschia, and in black with a touch of white speckle.
We haven’t forgotten the men either – our Peasy shoes are lined with pure wool felt, and can be worn as either a shoe or a slipper. So we don’t blame you if you just decide to stay home and put your feet up in front of the fire. They’re the perfect Christmas gift for a man in your life -order now and that’s one present off of the list!
What do a kingfisher, a termite mound, a shark and a coconut all have in common? Whilst it might sound like the start of a joke, they are all examples of designs in nature that have inspired innovations.
At Po-Zu we know something – OK, a lot – about the coconut example. Our coconut foot-mattress was inspired by the natural shock-absorbing properties of coconut fibres. When a coconut falls from the tree, there’s a pretty big impact, and the layer of fibres surrounding the nut need to be pliable enough to absorb that shock and prevent it from breaking when it hits the ground. So we had a hunch that they would be a perfect choice to give our foot mattress its special cushioning and bounce, with the added advantage for the wearer of being breathable and moulding to the foot as the shoe is worn. There is also the environmental benefit of utilising a natural waste product and the fibres being biodegradable once the shoes have been well worn.
Taking inspiration from nature in innovation and design is known as biomimicry. As Janine Benyus, one of its leading advocates says, ‘Nature knows what works, and what is appropriate, and what lasts here on earth’.
Termite mounds and their sophisticated air flows and cooling systems inspired the design of the Eastgate Centre in Harare, Zimbabwe. The natural air flow that is generated by the design of the building means that air conditioning is not required and uses about 35% of the energy required for temperature regulation in conventional office buildings.
The kingfisher inspired the design of a bullet train. The engineer, Eiji Nakatsu, a keen bird-watcher, asked himself the question “Is there something in Nature that travels quickly and smoothly between two mediums?” And the answer that came to him was the kingfisher. He modelled the front end of the train after the beak of the kingfisher – and the resulting train is not only quieter, but is also 15% more energy efficient and travels 10% faster.
Biomimitician Fiona Fairhurst worked with the Senior Fish Curator at the National History Museum, Oliver Crimmen, to create the now infamous ‘shark skin’ swimsuit for Speedo, which Michael Phelps wore in winning a haul of medals at the 2008 Olympics, and which was subsequently banned for being too performance enhancing. She explains how, ‘through a process of evolution, the shark has developed ridges on its skin, known as denticles. These reduce the amount of water that comes into contact with the skin, thereby lessening the drag force on the shark." The swimming suit she designed featured a textured surface similar to these denticles.
As Michael Pawlyn, an architect and another leading proponent of biomimicry says, “You could look at nature as being like a catalogue of products, and all of those have benefitted from a 3.8 billion year research and development period. And given that level of investment, it makes sense to use it”.
Asking nature’s advice is perhaps something that we could all try to incorporate into our lives a little more; ‘What would nature do?’ Nature has some pretty smart – and sustainable - answers if we care to listen.