Vegan Shoe Addict is always on the lookout for exciting vegan shoe brands to share with you. Today, I’d like to introduce you to Ontems.
Who are they?
A small family run brand of vegan sneakers based in Portugal, with a truly inspiring sustainability ethos.
What do they make?
At the moment, just one type of sneakers: the 87s. These are chic, durable unisex sneakers in classic white or matcha green. They are 100% vegan.
Why you should love them
Ontems use only natural materials in their sneakers, which are made of canvas, microfibre and rubber. The beautiful, handmade sneakers have a classic shape, a low profile (with minimal, subtle branding) and surprising durability for canvas footwear, thanks to an extra layer of reinforcement on the uppers. They are designed to be timeless and long-lasting but are biodegradable, so when they eventually die, you can be happy in the knowledge you won’t be contributing to the earth’s ongoing plastics crisis. They are smart enough to go with your smart casual outfits and casual enough to look at home with your beachwear – the perfect everyday sneaker.
The company is committed to being vegan friendly and environmentally friendly and is constantly researching new sustainable materials, manufacturing and recycling methods.
Usually €150. Currently on special offer for the holidays at almost €50 less.
Where can you get them?
You can get them online directly from Ontems
Vegan Shoe Addict spoke to James Shannon, one of the Ontems founders, to find out a bit more about this awesome brand and its eco-friendly ethos.
What made you decide to start a vegan footwear company?
“We actually didn’t intend to start a “vegan” company per se, although we had no intention to ever use any animal products, our focus began with plastic waste (and is still a core part of our ethos).
We won a grant for a project we initiated to investigate the feasibility of upcycling plastic debris into footwear or for the footwear components sector. After over a year of work, the upcycling process was for this application entirely viable from both a mechanical and economical standpoint as well. But we became increasingly concerned that environmentally, the final product didn’t coincide with our efforts.”
There’s a lot of talk nowadays about upcycling and recycling plastics in the fashion world. What made you decide it wasn’t right for you?
“The process was both energy intensive, and merely prolonged the life cycle of harmful plastics, only to have them end back up in landfill or the sea. The circular economy for footwear, at least at this time is still in its infancy. But, we are positive! There are cool initiatives being made to develop the necessary facilities to treat footwear, thus making it more repairable or recyclable at the end of its life cycle! Great news!”
Can you tell us a bit about your manufacturing process?
“We only produce in one, very small, family owned factory here in Portugal that we personally verify to meet our standards. We are a small family business ourselves, and still learning! They often say here that shoemaking is like piecing a puzzle together, and can become a complex web trying to source from all the different distributors. We want to test more biodegradable sole units, and particularly the interlining sock, and laces, are tough. But again, things are moving in the right direction.”
Do you have a vegan footwear brand you’d like featured here? Contact me and let’s talk!