“The Shoe Creator”: how can we make ethical shoes?

It is a serious challenge to succeed in buying perfectly ethical shoes. This is why Public Eye is launching the  Shoe Creator, an on-line tool that will allow you to design the shoes of your dreams while also respecting human rights. It also highlights the deplorable working conditions in which our shoes are made and describes the sad reality of the factories. Be it in China, Albania or other countries, workers are paid a poverty wage, working hours are unacceptably long, and unhealthy working conditions are part of the daily lot of millions of workers. Companies engaged in this sector are far from transparent, and are responsible for the terrible consequences of a business model that has turned boots and sneakers into disposable consumer goods, to the detriment of our planet and the people who make them.

Swiss people buy an average of one new pair of shoes every other month. “Fast fashion” also applies to the shoe industry. But most consumers are unaware of the scandalous conditions in which their shoes are made, be it in Asia or in Europe. In the tanneries and shoe factories, millions of workers are overworked, with insufficient protection and are in constant contact with toxic chemical products. The results are clear: irrespective of whether the shoes are “Made in China” or “Made in Italy”, and whatever the price paid by consumers, the shoes we wear are made in unacceptable conditions.

Public Eye is publishing new studies today, based on our meetings with the victims of this lucrative but unfair system. In Albania, workers are paid 150 Swiss francs a month to make shoes, which is less that a quarter of the money needed to cover basic needs and live a dignified life. The poor working conditions are also denounced in the video called “Working for GEOX in the 21° century - The case of Serbia” that is published by the Italian section of the Clean Clothes Campaign. The daily life of the Serbian workers in the factory of the well-known brand Geox is marked by intimidation, humiliation, excessive overtime and violations of labour rights.

The “Shoe Creator” allows you to create the shoes of your dreams on-line, based on four models and many different accessories. Public Eye is using this as an opportunity to denounce an industry that has stepped out of line, and raise awareness in young people. At the end of this competition, the winning design will be made to measure for the winner. Each and every one of us can have an impact on a daily basis, by taking good care of their shoes, having them repaired and asking questions about where they have been made, so that the manufacturers finally understand that equity is an important criterion that needs to be taken into account.

For further information please contact:
David Hachfeld, textile and shoe expert, 044 277 79 14, david.hachfeld@publiceye.ch