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Is making sustainable footwear in India easy?

The first modern footwear industry was started in 1887.Over the years, the product quality, material used, finishing & new designs have evolved. The focus has always been to product good designs in bulk which is called as a fast fashion. The impact or the way the product is disintegrated after use was never thought of. Focus on using sustainable materials has never been there. Also, the effort to add sustainable products into the footwear packaging has not been done in a significant manner.

The factory setups and manufacturing capabilities have been built in a way to improve efficiency or outputs. In the past few years, in the developed markets like the USA, new sustainable brands like Allbirds, Rothys etc have gained popularity. People are showing a lot of interest in brands which use environment friendly materials.

In India the footwear Industry has been in existence for more than 100 years. The production setups are not focussed on using sustainable materials. Design, production output and low pricing products have been the focus areas of large brands in India. Brands have either been in low price-low quality segment, or else high quality-premium segment.

Lately few young brands in Indian footwear industry have started to use recycled plastic in their sneakers. Some other have started portraying as if they are using eco-friendly materials. Even though we appreciate their steps in this sustainability journey but we feel they are too small and will not help. These products are very highly priced and only small percentage of people in India can afford them. If sustainability remains for a selected few, it will never have a positive impact on the environment!

When we at NoStrain started finding eco-friendly/ sustainable materials for our footwear and packaging, we realized how difficult it is to develop. The industry setups, materials and working ethos cannot be changed overnight. For example, the sole making factories mainly focus on EVA in India. For every 1 EVA factory, you could find 5 other factories copying the designs and making the same sole in AIRMAX (PVC). It is less than half the price, but 3 times as heavier than an EVA sole. Obviously much more environment damaging!

It is a difficult process to find factories which understand why you are asking for the best and eco-friendly costly when you can get cheaper materials! At NoStrain we find it extremely daunting to find factories which prepare good quality materials and also focus on sustainability. We are on a long haul and we will make a big change! Sustainability should achieve new heights with NoStrain.

The way is tough but as we move along we are seeing sustainability target clearer and clearer 😊 !