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Leon Kaye headshot

Løci Wants to Blow Up How Shoes Are Made Before We Blow Up the Planet

Løci is achieving more than reinventing how shoes can be made, sustainably — the brand is blurring the lines between “sneaker” and “shoe.”
By Leon Kaye

There’s no shortage of “vegan” shoes on the market, but one design house is determined to make vegan footwear the norm, not simply an alternative to leather. Løci is achieving more than reinventing how shoes are made — the brand is blurring the lines between “sneaker” and “shoe.” Celebs and their fans are taking notice: One of the designs, the Løci Nine, has sold out eight times since it made its recent debut.

To start, Løci says it’s determined to stop the use of any animal products within the fashion industry, and it seeks to stem the flow of plastic into the world’s oceans. That pledge is both seen and felt in the uppers of all Løci shoes: they don’t appear to be leather, but they don’t look like your run-of-the-mill canvas or polyester-based sneakers, either. The shoes offer a strength, and a sheen, that together tempt its owners to wear them with jeans — or even with a suit.

Then, there are the shoe’s insoles, and again Løci stands out. The brand uses cork, which under the feet feel sturdy yet soft, secure yet lightweight. Løci says it also uses cork as it is hypoallergenic and allows the foot to mold itself comfortably within the shoe.

Under the insole, Løci says it only uses natural rubber for its shoes’ soles. Bamboo and recycled nylon comprise the lining of the sneakers. Even the eyelets, through which the shoes are laced, have sustainability street cred: They’re made from recycled brass.

Beyond the design of the shoes, Løci seeks out stylists that share the brand’s sustainability mindset. Designers Ilaria Urbinati and Laura Sophie Cox, for example, have recently released an ecologically-focused unisex shoe collection — and more collabs will roll out over the next several months.

So far, the company says it’s prevented 1 million plastic bottles from ending up in the world’s oceans; each pair of shoes contains the equivalent of 20 PET bottles. Løci also donates 10 percent of the profits from all shoes sold online to various wildlife and environmental nonprofits

Løci and other disruptors in the fashion sector are confronting many uphill battles. According to the brand, 8 million pieces of plastic make their way into the world’s oceans daily; more than a billion animals are killed annually to satisfy the world’s demand for leather; in turn, cattle ranching is the largest cause of deforestation and the loss of animal habitat. But considering the A-listers who are snapping up these shoes, Løci could succeed at rounding up some voices who can amplify how the fashion industry is wreaking havoc on the planet — and show how better products can help curb these disturbing trends.

Image credit: Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye headshot

Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.

Read more stories by Leon Kaye