A Man's Perspective on Eco-Friendly Shoes (and some surprisingly attractive options)
by Seth Sosebee, Guest Blogger
It's time to start that holiday shopping, and ladies, for the man in your life, or if you are one of our male friends who read our blog, Pinik Goes Green would like to help you in selecting some eco-friendly alternatives for men in the world of shoes. Guest blogger Seth Sosebee shares his perspective on finding shoes that are kind to the environment while looking good, too. Seth's expertise runs the gamut from auto racing to men's fashion and beyond. He writes about men's fashion, footwear and other men's lifestyle topics for eBay. - Kelly
I am completely onboard with the idea that each of us should live sustainably, buying products whose manufacturing doesn't harm the environment. But, there are limits to the lengths the average consumer can be expected to go. I'm talking about the problem of eco-friendly shoes - that is to say, they're normally repugnant.
The problem, in this man's opinion? The options marketed as 'eco-friendly' tend to be, well, ugly. I see other guys wearing them and mumble to my girlfriend, "I could never pull those off." But what I'm really thinking is, "Those guys are insane for wearing shoes like that."
Making an environmentally responsible footwear choice shouldn't mean that you have to choose between bulbous rubber shells punched with holes, burlap sacks with recycled rubber soles, or odd-looking sandals. While the unique styling of green footwear is sometimes part of their appeal, most of the time - like when you're at work, or on a date, or not going hiking - you'd rather just look good.
Fortunately, I've recently begun to discover that there are a number of shoe companies who specialize in sustainable shoes that I would be proud to wear. Here are some of the autumn offerings I've discovered from several of these shoemakers.
Timberland - Earthkeeper Boots
If you're vegan, then obviously the Timberland Earthkeeper boots aren't for you - they're leather. However, they're also made with 100% organic cotton and recycled materials. Most importantly, they look great. There are many styles of Earthkeepers, but there aren't many better looking than the 6-Inch Zip Boot.
They have a deep brown full leather upper, a memory foam insole, and a tasteful cork layer between the footbed and sole. There's also a toe cap on the boot, but with the seam moved back on the shoe, the boots don't look overly formal. Like all quality leather, the 6-Inch Zip Boots will only look better with age, but with a shoe shine kit and a little love, they polish up nicely too. This is a great boot that looks equally dapper with a flannel shirt or Oxford and tie.
Patagonia - Men's Javelina A/C Shoe
Patagonia's massive brand success can be attributed to their putting out good looking, long lasting clothing and footwear that's responsibly made year after year. This strong tradition continues with the Javelina model.
The Javelina A/C Shoe
is rare in that it looks great with jeans, slacks and shorts. The shoe's styling appears to be an attractive hybrid. The upper of the shoe is shaped and cut much like running shoes from a couple decades back, but the lacing, wide tongue, substantial sole and reinforced toe recalls a skate show. Whatever the folks at Patagonia did here, it works.
As its name suggests, the Javelina A/C Shoe is extremely breathable and moisture wicking, so comfort is maximized while odors are suppressed. The shoes also come with excellent, stiff Vibram soles that allow the Javelina to perform equally well on the trail and at a tailgate.
Keen Shoes - Jackson
Remember those alien-looking sandals I referred to a few paragraphs back? Well, Keen has long been a guilty party in selling these. However, Keen's Jackson sneakers may well be their redemption.
Like Patagonia's Javelina A/C shoes, the Jackson model blends several styles, namely the cut of the classic Adidas Sambas and the low profile of Reef's Cloudbreak model. The brilliance of the Jackson shoe is the subtle variety of colors that make the shoe interesting without compromising its understated appeal. It's a shoe that looks great with jeans or khakis, and Keen has a sterling reputation so you know they'll last.
Good Guys - Ayita Beige
The desert boot has made a real resurgence over the last couple of years, but if you're vegan, chances are you've missed out. For some reason, desert boot styles always look better in a brushed suede leather. Commonly seen in a light gray or even tan, desert boots are popular choices in warmer seasons and look great with darker shades of pants, like navy chinos.
Beige shoes are made with vegan friendly materials that don't detract from the classic, simple look of the desert boot, replicating the look of real leather with impressive accuracy. As their name would indicate, they're available in a deep beige with a ruddy, orange outsole. Sustainable and stylish, the Ayita Beige boots are the best of both worlds.
Look Good, Feel Good About It
See, you don't have to forsake your sense of style to find good-looking shoes. You, sir, have the Internet, which means you have access to nearly every shoe made. No longer is it necessary to suffer ugly shoes gladly.