Bridging the Gap Between Sustainable Fashion and Skinny Wallets

833.jpgIn what some might dismiss as a opportunistic play for the burgeoning market for green fashion, Payless Shoesource will be launching a line of green shoes, clocking in at an average of $30. But look a little deeper, and you’ll see that Summer Rayne Oakes, the iconic poster child of green fashion, whose good looks may distract you from the fact she’s deeply qualified to consult on both what’s most sustainable and at the same time fashionable, is on board here.
The commitment is not a fleeting one, as she is in a multi year contract with Payless, serving to ensure thoughtful choice of materials, while keeping up with current trends, a synergy sure to help this line make a deep impact.
This move is monumental for many reasons:

Green fashion, while worthy of many kudos for its innovation and use of less impactful fabrics, has typically meant a substantially higher price compared to the conventional option. While that may be seen as justified in the eyes of many, or simply a matter of scale as compared to the higher quantities of the typical fabric options, this breaks with that logic, providing both a sustainable option and a price that meets the expectations of the everyday consumer.
When this happens, those that would not have otherwise sought out green options when shopping may now see it as more accessible, possible, and have new eyes that will now more likely see other examples of where going green doesn’t have to mean spending more green.
The shoes will be out in 500-1000 of their stores by early next year, depending on the style.
Readers: What other examples have you seen of bridging the green divide out there?

Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio School of Management in San Francisco. His overarching talent is “bottom lining” complex ideas, in a way that is understandable and accessible to a variety of audiences, internal and external to a company.

Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations about, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media marketing. || ==> For more, see

4 responses

  1. Great catch — I’ll be blogging it at Stop Global Warming on
    SRO is doing important work her, if the shoes are truly sustainable across their entire life cycle.
    Green fashion advocates have seemed blind to critique over the high prices for these clothes, which repel a lot of otherwise enthusiastic adopters.

  2. I agree @cchiovitti, I was at first skeptical and then saw they seem to really be doing it right. This reminds me of the prefab house company that I came across earlier this year that gave themselves a budget constraint within which to create their green models. And succeeded in bringing affordable greener homes to more people.

  3. i don’t see how a big company such as payless (who owns a lot of smaller brands) can make a small line of shoes and call them sustainable. sure, using more sustainable materials in their shoes or production methods may help but in the big picture it’s just marketing … and in trend to come up with some kind of ‘green’ story. what about all the other styles they produce. the verdict will be out to really see just how they come out. hey, ask is payless uses PVC in their shoes or packaging !
    shoe making, even at it’s simplest level (like sandals), is not very environmental minded at all. think of shoes and all the components/parts and what is wasted afterward! i don’t know of any shoes that can recycled after use either b/c of all the different parts/materials used.

Leave a Reply