Ethically Sourced Leather: What Does it Mean?
Leather has been used for over 7,000 years as a durable & wearable material, and it remains one of the most popular materials for high-quality shoes, jackets, pants, and other articles of clothing. However, leather production can come at a huge cost to the environment. In an effort to inspire change throughout the fashion industry, we make conscious decisions in the sourcing of our leather to create comfy, durable, and ethically made shoes.
For our leather & suede to be ethically sourced, we ensure low-impact methods are used at every step of the supply chain. Here’s the detailed breakdown:
Certified by the Leather Working Group
All of our suede and leather sneakers are Gold-rated by the Leather Working Group, which provides the most reliable seal of approval when it comes to sustainability in the leather industry. The LWG uses strict protocols to audit for ethically sourced leather, so this is the certification to trust when you are purchasing leather goods.
From the Farm
All of the leather and suede used in our shoes – like our signature OCA Low sneakers – is responsibly sourced from the USA, Brazil and Argentina. From the start, the leather used in our shoes is a byproduct of the meat & dairy industries. Our source farms operate in a way that reduces their impact on the environment as much as possible. Most importantly, our leather is never sourced from any area that has been deforested for cattle-farming.
To the Tannery
After the initial treatment of the material, leather is tanned to become the soft, supple material used in our shoes. Ethical practices involve using non-toxic tanning chemicals that won’t harm the environment, as well as ensuring these chemicals are properly disposed of (so as not to affect the surrounding land & groundwater). We also treat and reuse 100% of the water used to produce our leather.
Energy & Water Treatment Methods
We prioritize alternative sources of energy in our leather processing to reduce our carbon footprint wherever possible. Our tanneries use either solar panels or upcycled wood (from the furniture industry) to support that process.
Water must be treated after contact with both the leather skin and tanning chemicals. Our tanneries contain water treatment stations, and re-utilize water after treatment to minimize consumption and divert chemicals from the environment.
Beyond the Sneakers
Our mission to disrupt the wasteful practices inherent in fashion goes beyond ethically sourced & processed materials. All along the supply chain, our partners in production pay their employees fair wages and provide healthy working conditions. As a WRAP-certified Gold rate supplier, we ensure this through traceability efforts, enforced and maintained by experts in the field of human rights.
To complete this cycle, our ethical leather shoes reach you, our customers, in a conscious manner. We created our very own single-box packaging made from recycled and recyclable paper to reduce waste. Considerations like this are well worth the effort to protect our planet.
We also started our own ecological restoration program in our founder’s homeland of Brazil, planting two trees in the Brazilian rainforest with every pair of sneakers purchased.
From the skater-favorite CATIBA Pro to the OCA High, we adhere to the highest ethical and environmentally conscious standards of production. We’re on a mission to make the world greener, one sneaker at a time.