They’re the flats a certain one-time duchess changes into after a day in heels and are good for the environment. Emma Markezic walks a mile in Instagram’s cult shoes.
We all have hobbies — yoga, reading, rock climbing, even extreme ironing, if that’s your thing.
Personally, I’ve been known to spend a lot of my downtime knee-deep in my obsession with cults. Not just your dysfunctional families with a charismatic leader, either. There’s the cult of the Kardashians, the cult of clean eating, the cult of tidying up. Then there’s the things that want to be cults — the Korean sheet mask, the vagina candle. That last one, because what on God’s rapidly less-green Earth were you thinking, Gwyneth?
Some objects, however, actually seem to make it to that coveted pedestal in the capitalist sky. Rothy’s is one of those products — shoes made from discarded plastic bottles. Based in the US, as of today, it’s recycled more than 47 million bottles. Which is pretty impressive … until you find out one million water bottles are sold globally every minute. But we need to start somewhere. By golly, do we need to start — especially when you find out 91 per cent of the world’s plastic isn’t recycled at all.
There are a few footwear brands on the recycled-plastic bandwagon — Vivobarefoot, Saola, even Nike and Adidas have their versions. But the only one really making waves in fashion circles is Rothy’s. And when I say fashion circles I mean inner circle, as in Meghan Markle has a pair (or two?).
But as one of the largest consumers of the world’s water supply, the fashion industry has a reckoning coming. Which is why I’m pleased these shoes have already jumped the fence to cult status. And looking at them I can see why — they’re not overly mumsy or hippy, they come in various shapes and there are at least two dozen colours to choose from. I went with a pair of leopard-print points, but there’s everything from solid black to green camo.
Once selected, I paid what seemed like a lot for a pair of non-leather flats and sat back and waited for them to arrive. Which was several weeks, it turned out. Shipping sometimes takes longer than they say because the company tries to only make enough stock to keep up with demand, and when I finally pulled them out of the box I was unsure. The sole — or as they call it, the bio-based algae strobel board — looked like it lacked arch support of any kind and seemed flimsier than a Kraft Single. The shoes also looked very narrow. So narrow, I couldn’t see how my non-petite feet were going to fit.
But I was so very wrong, because holy baked macaroni if they weren’t by far the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever tried on right out of the box! They stretched to fit my feet like some kind of magical Cinderella loafer. The tight knit actually felt quite supportive and the sole was spongy and by no means as princess-and-the-pea as I expected.
The real test came after a day of sightseeing, which I’d had planned for that weekend. I have never — and I mean never, not even in sneakers — been able to walk around town touristing all day and not feel some discomfort. “My feet are killing me, let’s go back to the hotel,” is my standard, if clichéd, day-killer. But paint me completely converted — these shoes were gloriously comfortable. No blisters, no rubbing… my dogs were purring like cats.
It seems that after years of studying them, I have finally joined a cult. Well and truly. In fact, after also finding out I could put them in the washing machine as much as I wanted, after that weekend, I immediately purchased another pair. Let it be known I paid full price, too. No kickbacks here. While I’m sure they’re not environmentally perfect, join us over here at Church Rothy’s and you’ll be doing better on the single-use plastic front than most. And what’s good for the environment is good for all of us. Something we’ll do well to remember from time to time. Well, all the time, actually. But like I said … we’ve got to start somewhere.
WHAT: Eco-friendly shoes
FIND IT: rothys.com
HOW MUCH: Shoes start from about $207, with free shipping and returns.
I LOVED: Being able to work extreme ironing into this story… if you never have, Google it immediately.
I SHOULD ALSO MENTION: Rothy’s shoes are 100 per cent recyclable as well. Which is worth the shoutout when you learn more than 300 million pairs of shoes end up in landfills around the world each year.
Emma is a comedian, writer and b+s’ intrepid trend guinea pig. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @markyknowsbest