With the ethical fashion movement gaining more and more momentum it seems there are more ways than ever to give back to our planet. And now we’ve got our wardrobe’s sorted, Po-Zu is a footwear brand leading the way in ethical shoes. Founded in 2006, it’s no wonder that Zo-Pu are ranked the number 1 shoe brand by the Ethical Company Organisation.
That’s quite a reputation to live up to…
Launching their new collection for summer 2017, Po-Zu have intertwined style, function, craftsmanship and sustainable materials to present a collection that will put a bounce in your step.
The collection features a range of fun flats, wedges and trainers that all use materials committed to sustainability. One of their strongest components is the use of Piñatex – one of the most viable ecological alternatives to leather, using pineapple fibres. Add to this cork, natural shock absorbing latex and responsibly sourced beech wood, and it’s clear that Po-Zu are firmly committed to sustainable footwear.
We caught up with Safia Minney, who recently joined Po-Zo as MD.
PlusMinus: Hi Safia, thanks for taking some time to tell us more about Po-Zu. Tell us, what inspired you to join a sustainable footwear brand?
Safia Minney: Sven Segal started Po-Zu 10 years ago and we met when I was running People Tree. I have always been fascinated with footwear and how to make it sustainable.
Also, even though I have been vegetarian for most of my life, I never understood why making plastic shoes that don’t bio-degrade for hundreds of years is sustainable. If we could use other materials and then better leather from a sustainable meat industry that would make more sense to me. Over the decades I visited leather tanneries and was shocked by the horrendous stench, toxic pollution and total disregard for the workers, their health and the environment.
The true cost of footwear production is well documented in the True Cost movie. The fashion can’t continue as it is. We have to find solutions urgently and cut back our consumption. As CEO and Creative head for People Tree for over two decades I had always found it difficult to find great ethical footwear to style with for our shoots and films. That’s why when Sven asked me to work alongside him and help grow the company I was so delighted to join.
Researching and writing my new book Slave to Fashion gave me a huge opportunity to rethink the huge transformation that all businesses, capitalist and cultural systems need to go through to eradicate modern slavery and become sustainable.
I love helping in my small way.
PM: How are your experiences and expertise going to benefit Po-Zu?
SM: I bring a lot of experience leading teams and developing ethical brands internationally. Actually, I hate the word ‘brand’ – I mean ethical companies, products and supply chains.
I like to work with people like myself who strive and don’t compromise on the best ethical and sustainable practice and are passionate about delivering real impact and change. Like me, Sven is an ecologist and we have a similar approach to ethical fashion.
I led two design teams and developed the first ethical supply chains in organic and Fair trade cotton and manufacture, whilst meeting the design and quality expectations of the Japanese market was a great way to about sustainable design. It’s great at Po-Zu to use this experience and learn about a new sector and making shoes is even more complicated than making sustainable clothes, but we hope to revolutionise the footwear industry. “Turning the footwear industry upside down” is our new campaign.
I have been building Po-Zu’s profile and helping to tell the unique story through film and photography and other media projects. Making shoes in the way that we do in Portugal, by hand, is just so incredible – it’s poetry.
PM: We are very excited about your upcoming Star Wars Collaboration. How did that come about?
SM: When Star Wars contacted us there was a lot of excitement in our office. They loved the look of our shoes for the new films. The new Star Wars and Po-Zu collaboration will be available on the Po-Zu website on May 4th (May the Force Be With You) for pre-orders.
The collection is utterly brilliant, with organic cotton Resistance high tops sneakers, chrome-free leather boots and the tweed Rey all on our natural rubber latex soles and coir foot mattresses to give you extra comfort – for kids, women and men.
PM: What is your vision for Po-Zu?
SM: I would like to make Po-Zu the go-to ethical footwear brand and I think the force is with us!
The new Po-Zu x Star Wars collection will be available from May 4th.