Fashion is a strange and fickle animal. Styles come and go, value and craftsmanship vary across brands, and artistic taste travels alongside industry and business. Major names and style houses tend to dominate the landscape and many cases reach across global markets. In the shoe industry, sweatshop work conditions, social and environmental exploitation, and outsourcing of labor have become the accepted practice of footwear giants such as Nike and Adidas. Thankfully, there are alternatives for those who want to stand up to the culture of rampant consumerism and still sport a quality pair of kicks.
Blackspot Shoes from Adbusters Culturejammer Headquarters lets you have some pride in your stride. Created by the popular magazine, the brand is open-source and can be used by anyone, free of charge and copyright laws. The shoes themselves are made of hemp, vegan leather, recycled tires, and produced in fair-trade factories. Blackspot come in either a classic sneaker or boot design, created by John Fluevog and hand-painted with a large spot. They are compliant with vegan standards and are monitored by Robin Webb of Vegetarian Shoes in the UK. Each pair is part of limited or small runs, ensuring quality and integrity.
Currently, all Blackspot shoes are fabricated in Addah, Pakistan by Talon Sports where workers receive an eight hour day with fair pay, overtime, vacation, breaks for lunch and prayer, sick leave, and opportunities to advance within the company. Talon is governed by an elected body that offers micro loans and medical services. Fifteen percent of the price of Blackspot shoes go to a fund dedicated to improving the living conditions of the workers and their families.
Blackpots are available online, or at a number of independent retailers worldwide in order to bypass industry conglomerates and foster a network of grassroots businesses committed to sustainability.