The New Eco Footware (VW Bus and Veggie Burrito Not Required)

This month’s issue (May 2009) of Elle Magazine is largely about eco clothing and beauty products. Not that a magazine hasn’t produced a green-themed issue before, but Elle’s take is a bit higher-end and more fashion-forward than the typical organic cotton-and-bamboo fair. Among the pages, an ad for green line Zoe & Zac, available at Payless of all places, jumped out at me. Like Elle, the shoe company is promoting the eco concept with a don’t-you-wish-you-were-as-cute-as-her spokes model: Summer Rayne Oakes.

Tigerlily Espedrille from Zoe & Zac

Tigerlily Espedrille from Zoe & Zac

But Oakes wouldn’t be able to sell many shoes if the footwear looked like a harvest of boiled-wool clogs. Happily, that’s not the case. Pastel wedges and floral-patterned ballet flats anchor the line. The cheery purple Tigerlily Espadrilles feature “an organic cotton upper, an adjustable slingback with a nickel and lead-free buckle and a romantic 3.5-inch espadrille wedge made from natural jute and hemp.”

Simple Shoes is an obvious pick for green footwear, with the the crunchy-ish hemp canvas Mary Janes and the post-consumer recycled packaging. But not everything the company turns out is styled with a Grateful Dead reunion tour in mind. Take the Gazer, a leather sandal in black and burnt orange. The leather is from factories that have been certified environmentally friendly, the outsoles use natural rubber and recycled car tires and even the logo detail is fashioned from recycled metal alloys.

Brazil by olsen Haus

Brazil by olsen Haus

Designer Chloe Jo Berman (founder of Glamazon Living guide The GirlieGirl Army) recently told EcoRazzi.com, “When we look at lines like olsen Haus and we see our options: stylish, beautiful, elegant, just matches everything, but also are fashion forward — there’s no question as to making the switch.” For eco-minded shoppers, olsen Haus is the next step in sustainable style. The totally-vegan line (no animal products used) manages not to sacrifice style for ideology, either. The dangerously sexy Brazil (with a magenta, citron or eggplant-colored 4-inch stilletto heel) is made of “vegan ultra suede.”

Simple Shoes' Gazer sandal

Simple Shoes' Gazer sandal

Finally, like a sign o’ the times, online retailer Zappos has its own category for “Eco Friendly” footwear. It’s a sea of Earth Shoes and Birkenstocks — but that could change with more urban-minded designers jumping on the eco-train. That May issue of Elle? It listed more than a half-dozen designer flats from the likes of Giorgio Armani, Proenza Schouler and Miu Miu.


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