Can the production of handmade footwear become sustainable?

Wearing a handcrafted shoe is certainly a small luxury, that evokes the idea of an ancient world made of slow and precise gestures, of an equipped laboratory that produces a few pieces without waste. However, the reality is a little different, because today’s artisan shoe factories still work with an organized assembly line and rely on a supply chain that can also be very long and complex to ensure the success of the processes and the supply of materials.

Considering the growing attention for products that ensure a reduced environmental impact, the world of footwear is also increasingly striving to find solutions that permit to combine formal perfection with greater product sustainability.

How can handmade footwear become more sustainable? There are so many options that don’t compromise at all the production of high quality shoes.

Italian leather and sustainability

Although leather is undoubtedly an animal derivative, the real leather used to produce footwear can also be sustainable. The quality standards ensured by the production in Italy and usage Italian raw materials, in fact, guarantee that the leather responds to major characteristics of transparency and that it is processed with respect for the workers.

Furthermore, 99% of Italian leather derives from the residues of the food industry, and not vice versa, thus leather is a raw material included in the circular economy.

When you opt for local suppliers, even better. The supply of raw materials at or near 0 km makes it possible to optimize transport and consequently consumption.

The most refined color is green

Usage of natural-based colors, return to handcrafted coloring techniques that have perhaps been lost over time in favor of faster chemical processes, is a way to guarantee handcrafted footwear not only a minor impact on the environment but also a unique and timeless look.

This type of leather processing often has no place in the industrial production, while the situation in the world of handcrafted shoes is different, because hand coloring reflects the detail-oriented approach to handmade shoe, enhancing its value.

Shoe factory and energy

Sustainability is not only about careful selection of the raw materials and processing them with limited usage of chemical products: to make handcrafted footwear more sustainable it is also possible to intervene on the production system. This means, for example, reviewing the energy supply of the structure to rely on non-fossil sources, or optimizing processes in order to reduce energy consumption and cut emissions.

Alongside this process, it is also possible to intervene on logistics by choosing more virtuous distribution systems or even review the packaging of footwear to make their recycling easier or to reduce the amount of material used.

Every action is useful in order to find maximum sustainability: to reduce their environmental impact, shoe factories can operate jointly on several fronts.

A controlled supply chain

Selecting suppliers who care about respect for the environment is essential for any artisan shoe factory that wants to make its production more sustainable. So, for example, collaborating with companies physically close to your headquarters allows you to reduce emissions related to transport, and choosing tanneries that not only carry out eco-friendly tanning but which have also reduced their water footprint are two excellent ways to produce footwear with a reduced environmental impact.

Finally, there is an inner characteristic of handcrafted footwear that makes them sustainable: their durability.

A product with attention to the smallest details and made with excellent materials and workmanship is made to last for years, always maintaining a good looking aspect even when it is a little “worn”. Disposable products are the main enemies of the environment, especially if the waste produced cannot be recycled in any way. Durable design, like that of the most refined handcrafted footwear, is synonymous of  sustainability.

In Fratelli Borgioli footwear, the tradition of Tuscan craftsmanship and technological innovation blend together to accompany the owner of these shoes for a lifetime.

Selling Fratelli Borgioli shoes means to be confident that you are offering your customers a product with all the features that surprise them with lasting beauty and superior comfort.

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