You’ve all heard of TOMS, right? The one for one footwear? When TOMS came out, it seemed like the best thing I’d ever heard of in footwear – shoes that gave back. Well now something even better has arrived.
Allow me to introduce you to Oliberté fair trade leather footwear. The world’s first fair trade certified footwear company is based out of Ethiopia, where the shoes are produced by hand by locals. The leather used to make the shoes is free range and sourced from local tanneries, one of which has the world’s only chrome recycling program. Oliberté claims to be a zero waste company, which means they strive to use as much of the leather as possible, a.k.a. waste as little as possible.
THIS IS MY DREAM COME TRUE. Free range leather goods that are fair trade, locally sourced, and sustainable. What. I am freaking out a little bit! Oliberté also participates in the 1% for the planet initiative, where 1% of all proceeds go towards sustainability and protecting the environment. They even attempt to use as little packaging as possible, and avoid “extraneous fluff.”
You may be wondering why I am promoting something made of leather when I am usually strictly against leather items and meat or eggs that are not free range. Well let me explain. My problem with most leather items is that they are often made of leather simply for luxury and/or fashion purposes. My problem with meat/eggs is that we consume so much of it and want it so cheap that animals are often forced into horrible living conditions in order to make our food cheaper. So buying free range meat/eggs starts to address this problem. I don’t have an issue with eating animal products in general, but I do have a problem with treating animals poorly. Similarly, I don’t actually have a problem with using leather goods, so long as it is done responsibly. In my mind, this means free range leather, and made for the purpose of producing a quality item that will last for many years, which also cuts down on fast fashion waste. For example, I have leather boots that I bought several years ago that I still have today, because they are good quality leather. Only now they need to be polished and resoled, but I will probably have these boots for many more years, as they are still in excellent condition.
So anyway, back to Oliberté.
Of course I bought a pair to try out (and have already purchased another pair… I do not have a problem!). I also bought the all natural waterproofing Gorilla Wax off their website, so as to keep my shoes in top form. I put the Gorilla Wax on my shoes before wearing them, which darkened the leather a little, but not very much. As long as you spread the wax evenly, it’s only noticeable if you’re specifically looking for it.
I wore the shoes around yesterday to do some grocery shopping and make a coffee run. The shoes started off a little too snug, but quickly loosened up, which is what I expected given that they’re leather. I think it will take a few more wears to fully break them in, but so far they are quite comfortable.
The price of these shoes is comparable to Aldo. Most pairs of will run you somewhere in the $100 – $150 range at full price. If you’re unsure what you think since you’ll be buying online, maybe buy a pair that’s on sale so you can try the brand out before serving up the big money. That’s what I did, and now I’m addicted so you can see how that worked out. Plus at the end of the day, peace of mind about what your purchase means for the world and high quality shoes are priceless.
You can also watch their video below, and check out their online store to get your own pair!