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The evolution of the white trainer: from Converse tennis shoe, the dad-sneaker trend thanks to New Balance and moving swiftly onto Adidas’s Stan Smiths (8 million pairs sold in 2015). And who can forget the clumpy Balenciaga Triple S? This may be one of the most basic shoes out there but thanks to the category of luxury streetwear, it isn’t going anywhere. Now we can expect to see the classic casual elevated… quite literally. We were no stranger to platforms last winter, just think of those Prada boots and Doc Martens. It makes sense that the shoe with a ‘lift’ could be the next big thing. So here are the best white platform sneakers available to buy now, alongside customers’ feedback, collected via Instagram. Also, look out for The Haute Heel’s new grading system, the Mindful Monday score. This will factor the brand’s social responsibility, materials and transparency about its supply chain. Importantly and unlike many scales out there, it’ll also consider the general quality of the product. Making change is in the hands of the consumer, which is the greatest influence on brands to improve.
Mindful Monday Score: 5/5
We don’t want to give high scores to luxury brands, just on the merit that they’re expensive and people are less likely to have a flippant attitude to the products. They’ve still got to work for it! Prada has transparent and clearly visible sustainability practices that really show it’s part of company culture. It’s way more than using quality materials and taking care of the environment – inclusivity is a huge part of change too. Prada proudly employs a female majority across top executives and other staff. And where the zero hour life is rife in the fashion industry, 88% of their jobs are comprised of permanent contracts. As for their environmental contribution, the high fashion house uses 100% renewable energy. This is across their corporate headquarters, industrial sites and retail spaces. The use of solar energy also means that they have saved on 723 tonnes of carbon emissions, according to their last report in December 2019. Clapping hands emoji.
Sizing: General consensus is to size down if you’re in between.
Mindful Monday score: 4.5 /5
Axel Arigato is one of those brands that doesn’t shout about their sustainability, it’s just part of who they are. The Swedish footwear brand is all about culture and an affordable price point in the luxury space. Shoes are manufactured in Portugal, in family-run businesses. Instead of releasing new collections every season, this is a slow fashion brand that prefers to focus on its four bestsellers and the ‘Drop of the Week’ concept. This isn’t necessarily a new model of shoe but a chance to highlight their existing offerings (as the website says, giving it an “equal chance to exist and sell out”), thereby limiting waste. As for materials, rubber is sourced from 20% post-industrial waste, and leather comes from local suppliers to the factory and in occasionally, Italy.
Sizing: True to size, but go down if you’re in between. I’ve received recommendations to try different models on in store as this can affect the fit.
Mindful Monday Score: 3.5/5
Here’s one of the most desirable platform sneakers that looks both inconspicuous and yet, way too chic to not be designer. It’s definitely one of the higher price points but with a cult following and evergreen model, it’s easy to see why. Can the hype be backed up with any sustainability commitments? The Alexander McQueen brand is part of fashion giant Kering, who have enlisted the help of tech company Oritain to verify trace the leather through the supply chain, which the brand says is to “ensure integrity”. There are also aims to have products join the circular economy, “by promoting the extended life and reuse of garments among a community of consumers to be connected through this MYMCQ peer to peer platform”. To us, this sounds like some kind of resale or rental space which brands such as Vince and Urban Outfitters have capitalised on to seem a little more Millennial and Gen Z friendly. While it sounds great, in comparison to Prada and other designers on this list, the commitment pales.
Mindful Monday Score: 4.5/5
Veja (Portugese for ‘look’) is widely known as the sustainable sneaker brand, thanks to High Snobiety calling it the ‘World’s Most Ethical’, but is it really so? Feedback from my community suggest that while the designs are effortlessly cool – and at an accessible price point – the French retailer’s products aren’t long-lasting or particularly comfortable. But let’s take a step back and hear about their mission. The brand sources fair trade, non-GMO cotton from Brazil and Peru, and pay higher labour wages than the industry standard. Veja makes a big statement about choosing production that’s three times more expensive ($18 a pair versues $3.50) than what most mainstream brands might opt for, in China. They’ve also banned PVC as a material from their supply chain and the plastics they do use are made from recycled bottles. The efforts don’t stop at manufacturing, back at head office in France, they are known for using green energy. I’m persuaded to be a future customer, as I love how much passion the founders clearly have for bringing a better product to the saturated, dirty footwear space. But considering not one person stood up for this brand’s quality (as opposed to the others who had advocates), Veja hasn’t scored full marks.
Sizing: True to size.
Mindful Monday Score: 2.5/5
This is no secret, Common Projects is one of my favourite trainer brands for its subtle, elegant and unisex design. However, according to Good On You, the company is listed as “not good enough”. Ouch. The reasons for that may be the lack of transparency, where there is virtually no information about production and materials. From light desk research and reading up on articles, it seems that founders Peter Poopat and Flavio Girolami still produce in Italy. Perhaps in the original factory that dreamt up their classic sneaker, with those beautifully subtle gold-tone numbers across the side. While I still love the brand and its timeless designs, the Mindful Monday Score just can’t go higher.
Mindful Monday Score: 3/5
In 2019, Keds launched the The No-Waste Shoe, in collaboration with sustainable apparel brand Ace & Jig. Materials were obtained through typical shoe production waste and thankfully, not made to look like it was. The project was to create a classic trainer that was made of ethical materials – amazing. However, the brand has rightly pointed out that they don’t believe in ‘going green’ for the sake of it. While I love the authenticity, especially in a space where labels are clamouring for the title ‘sustainable’, we can’t afford to give them a higher Mindful Score. Furthermore, Ked’s repertoire is mainly canvas, which typically doesn’t last as long as leather.
Mindful Monday Score: 3/5
My first impressions of Golden Goose is that they are so damn cool. The LA-born baby comes with an Italian lineage, a nod to its craftsmanship and “artisanal” flair. In terms of feedback, I’ve heard nothing but good things about comfort and longevity. Because let’s face it, if you’re going to own a pair of these quirky, deliberately ‘grubby’ trainers with a price point like this, then there’s no mistake about it being your style. I own a pair of cowboy boots from the brand and wear them to death during the colder months – they still look great. Good On You give this company a very low rating, because they don’t claim to be sustainable or seem to have made any visible effort. However, the Mindful Monday Score heavily relies on the quality of the product, which can really help consumers to not just save money but be more conscious of their purchases.
Sizing: If in between sizes, go down.
Mindful Monday Score: 3/5
My first memory of Converse was working at Ralph Lauren and almost being man-handled into buying a pair for uniform. By the time I was working at Abercrombie & Fitch, I was dying to wear those lace-ups over braided leather flip flops. Since my early 20’s, it’s safe to say I haven’t lusted over them since. But they’re undeniably timeless and I’d be lying if I said they didn’t go with everything. In terms of sustainability, Converse have a Renew line which are denim and canvas shoes made of recycled materials. As for their supply chain, there’s not a huge deal of information available but then again, they’ve never claimed to be a conscious brand. There is however, a focus on eliminating forced labour, human trafficking and slavery in their supplier factories, which is backed up by internal and external annual audits.
Sizing: True to size.
Mindful Monday Score: 2/5
Started in Turin, Italy in 1911, the classic tennis shoe company is best known for the 2705 style. The brand’s platform sneaker has a slightly different design but is as discreet and versatile as the rest of their collection. As for their sustainability agenda, there doesn’t seem to be any. Without any information about how they source their rubber soles or canvas for the body, we can’t score them much higher.
Mindful Monday Score: 4/5
Nike has to be one of the most controversial brands to talk about, especially on social media. It either receives admiration or outcry over allegations of sweatshop labour in the supply chain. However, the brand has released a lot of information and goals around becoming a more responsible company. Let’s begin with materials, the signature Flyknit (one of my favourites) is made of recycled plastic, where 31 million water bottles were saved from the landfill. Flyleather reduces traditional footwear waste by 50% and uses recycled leather. Furthermore, since 2008 Air soles have been manufactured using 100% renewable energy, and 90% waste is reused to create the cushioning the brand is so known for. Then there’s cotton, the material that we most believe is sustainable in spite of the pesticides, labour and immense amount of water involved in transforming it into a fibre. Nike began its 100% sustainable cotton goal in 2010 by using certified organic cotton, recycled cotton and the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI). They score high on the Mindful Monday score because of transparency and longevity. No one brand is perfect and it seems that Nike is firmly on the path to do better. Not to mention, when it came to your suggestions for sustainable white platform sneakers they were the number one must recommended and have the most diverse size range!