With the rainy season soon approaching, it's time to think about swapping out your winter boots for some rain shoes. While there are a lot of fast fashion options easily available, it's a little harder to find rainboots that are sustainable and socially conscious. Alice + Whittles is an ethically-made rainboot brand, and it is perfect for shoppers who have made the switch to conscious fashion.
A+W recently released its D'Or Collection, which features sustainably made ankle rainboots. The rubber booties come in three colors: black, sand, and mustard. The shoes are also stamped with gold brushed hardware, giving them a luxurious feel. While the rainboots are a stylish option for any fashion-conscious shopper, the way the booties are made is what makes A+W special.
The brand is run by a husband and wife duo named Sofi Khwaja and Nick Horekens, who met as UN refugee aid workers in Tunisia. After witnessing the effects of war in the region, the duo founded A+W as a way to create positive change in the world. The way A+W does that is two-fold: it cares both about the environment and the people who make the product.
"For Alice + Whittles, creating permanent and positive change means considering the unique and varied interests of all communities we work within — taking responsibility for our complete supply chain all the way back to raw materials while partnering with people and factories who share our values for sustainability and human dignity," Khwaja tells Bustle.
When Khwaja and Horekens began to create their brand, they had a few options when it came to manufacturing. They could either use synthetic rubber, PVC plastics, or natural rubber. If they chose synthetic rubber or plastic, it would help cut costs for the bottom dollar since it was easy to produce.
But there was something unethical about manufacturing petroleum-based shoes, especially for former UN aid workers who watched the oil industry destroy countries.
While natural rubber was a renewable resource and a better choice out of the three, manufacturing it wasn't exactly eco-friendly. Natural rubber plantations could be catastrophic to biodiversity, diminish water resources, and even violate child labor laws. To avoid that, Khwaja and Horekens looked to harvest their rubber through the Forest Stewardship Council, which is an organization that sets the standards for what is a responsibly managed forest, both environmentally and socially. FSC-certified forests follow a strict set of principles, including respecting indigenous people's rights to the land, and restoring the ecosystems that are used.
A+W uses sustainably-sourced rubber from the FSC-certified rainforests in Sri Lanka to create its shoes. The brand provides fair wages to its workers, and contributes back to the communities where the collections are made. In addition to providing living wages and safe factories, A+W also provides its workers with benefits like subsidized meals for breakfast and lunch, transport to-and-from work, a welfare shop where workers can buy their household goods, and even access to loans for things like housing and schooling.
While A+W is paying more for fair-trade, that doesn't mean its shoe prices are jacked up. Most of its minimalist rubber boots clock in under $100, making them comparable to mid-range boot companies. And people love A+W's slow-fashion approach. So much so that A+W's signature boot line has sold out five times in the past six months.
If you're looking for a sleek, fashion-conscious rainboot that doesn't harm the environment or the people who made it, then look no further than A+W.