‘Sustainable fashion’? What’s that you may ask? Well, there’s myriad ways of defining it, but here’s one woman’s take on sustainable shoe design.
Helen Furber, a recent graduate of Cordwainers London College of Fashion, has created these futuristic wedges that challenge the consumption and disposal of fashion from the very beginning of the design process. End-of-life disposal is something very rarely considered in any design process but particularly in today’s world of ‘fast fashion’. On the contrary, Helen seeks to challenge this phenomenon by creating shoes that have not just longevity and timeless appeal but also are completely recyclable. Each part of Helen Furber‘s shoes can be disassembled post-consumption for recycling, and the stalactite-looking heel is actually made of bio-resin, which is a material derived from sunflower oil and is used for casting and laminating.
Launderette caught up with Helen to hear more about how she goes about sourcing materials. “I spent a lot of time and effort researching materials and sourcing… In so far as leather is concerned, as a past vegetarian I’m particularly conscious about the use of animals in products – from testing of cosmetics to meat. Now, I make a point of buying Organic meat only. I felt that there was a missing parallel in the leather industry, and set out to find it.”
Helen uses ‘natureally‘ organic leather, the only tannery worldwide to guarantee the Soil Association‘s highest standards of animal welfare. Each unique piece of leather is sourced from Organic British rare breed cattle and is free of toxic chemicals such as chrome, varnish or other plastic coatings. On the ultimate luxury level, Helen explains that “the ‘exotic’ skins in my designs are from animals killed for meat – fish and ostrich, and come from Atlantic leather tannery in Iceland, which still use traditional tanning techniques as well as local geothermal energy to power their plant.”
Acne eat your heart out. Your wedges may be coveted amongst the current fashion set, but I reckon Helen Furber’s are the must-have pair of the future. The ‘Icica’ wedge is not only more sustainable but equally (dare I say more?) awe-inspiring. It’s like actual ice sculptures are holding you up – minus the melting part.
Unfortunately, Helen’s collection is still at the prototype level, and Launderette will be the first let you know when they go into manufacturing. In fact, I’ll hopefully be one of the first with a pair of these beauties on my feet!
In partnership with the Y-3 Adidas team, the wedge units were made from rapid prototypes, which were then moulded and cast in collaboration with Studio van der Graaf, a resin and perspex specialist company based in London.
Watch her video to find out more about the technology behind each pair’s construction: