No Saints’ founder Caroline Breure is on a mission to “unf*ck the world, one pair of shoes at a time”. As part of our new series ‘Ten Sustainability’ we’re talking to people who are dedicated to sourcing responsibly and employing sustainability into their designs and products. Next up, Australian brand No Saints. Breure is on a mission to help make leather obsolete, creating unisex animal-free simple, chic sneakers made from apple leather, pineapple leather and aquabase nappa. We talked to Caroline to get the lowdown on her sustainable situation:
10 Magazine: Where did the idea for No Saints come from?
Caroline Breure: “I’ve always treasured my shoes and accessories, but once I decided to stop wearing leather for ethical reasons, I noticed just how few stylish animal free options there were worldwide. I realised it would still take years for mainstream brands to take notice of the increased demand for vegan products and took on the challenge myself. I want to create products that will be coveted by people who have a great sense of style, especially those who would normally wear leather, so our shoes need to be fashionable and top quality.”
10: Why ‘No Saints’?
CB: “Most people think vegans see themselves as being morally superior and better than everyone else. We want to break that stereotype and show you can be a better person without having to be perfect. It also captures our brand personality which is about being bold and not taking ourselves too seriously.”
10: Why did you choose to make sneakers?
CB: “Sneakers felt like the perfect place to start as they’re universal: unisex, comfortable, can be worn at every stage of life and these days are worn in nearly every occasion too. There’s been a big move towards casualisation and streetwear in recent years and we love it. We see our customers wearing their No Saints from work to weekends, on holidays, parties and nightclubs and that is part of being a sustainable product to us: the fact you can get a lot of use out of one pair of shoes rather than having multiple pairs which are rarely worn.”
10: What is your favourite sustainable material to work with?
CB: “They all have their points of difference, but I’m a huge fan of apple leather as it ticks all the boxes for us: it’s made in Italy from the apple peels and cores discarded by the juicing industry, therefore avoiding waste; it’s also remarkably similar to leather in appearance (it’s really hard to tell the difference), while also being soft and comfortable. We are however always on the lookout for new materials, as there’s so much research being put into animal free leathers these days. It’s a very exciting time!”
10: How did you discover Apple leather?
CB: “I put a lot of research into the materials we use and was lucky to come across apple leather from the start. As soon as I learnt more about this material I was determined to try and use it. It hasn’t always been easy connecting with these manufacturers as they are small businesses themselves but persistence has been key for us.”
10: How did you decide on the design of the sneaker?
CB: “I had never designed shoes before, but I knew exactly what I wanted: a minimalistic, chic and universal look for our first style. Something that would look good on everyone and with everything. And I think we nailed it, as we’ve been getting feedback from people with all shapes and sizes of feet saying they find the design super flattering.”
10: How are you sourcing responsibly?
CB: “Firstly we chose Europe to manufacture our shoes because of their tradition and their excellent working conditions, which we know unfortunately is not always the case in the fashion industry. We visited factories in Portugal and chose the one most suited to us, feeling confident that we know where and how our shoes are made and the people who make them. The materials we use are also European made and therefore adhere to strict regulations and standards when it comes to environmental impact and use of harmful chemicals. It comes down to doing plenty of research, choosing reliable suppliers and asking lots and lots of questions.”
10: What is the biggest frustration that comes from sourcing this way for you?
CB: “It can be difficult to get the right level of service, especially when dealing with smaller suppliers who all of a sudden have had a big surge in demand, but ultimately we’re all learning and growing together as eco-conscious businesses.”
10: What have you learnt from designing with sustainability at the forefront?
CB: “So much! Firstly it doesn’t come cheap. Materials that are recycled, biodegradable, sustainable, fair trade etc. cost more, so we’ll never be able to compete in price with companies who mass produce with little regards to the environment and workers. Also, consumers who care about sustainability and ethical sourcing are well informed and will do their due diligence, so we are always open to learning from our customers and improving ourselves.”
10: Will you expand into more accessories?
CB: “Without a doubt! We want to expand our footwear range first and then go into other accessories, but the ultimate goal is to be a complete lifestyle brand.”
10: Who would you love to see wearing No Saints?
CB: “All of our styles are named after vegan celebrities who are raising huge awareness for animal welfare – Miley Cyrus, Joaquin Phoenix, Moby, Paul McCartney, Ruby Rose, Liam Hemsworth and Pamela Anderson – and it would be incredible to see any of them wear our shoes! But if I had to choose just one it would be Miley, as she is fierce, stands up for the causes she’s passionate about and perfectly embodies our brand values.”
10: If the No Saints sneakers had a theme song, what would it be?
CB: “That’s such a fun question! The one that comes to mind is “You Might Die Trying” by Dave Matthews Band. My favourite quote is “To change the world start with one step; however small, (the) first step is hardest of all”. The song talks about taking action to change the world for the better and about persisting at it, no matter how tough it gets.”
10: Who would you love to collaborate on a collection with?
CB: “We would love to do a collab with Mr Brainwash one day. We love his colourful splashes, the positive messages in his artwork and the fact he doesn’t take himself or life too seriously.”
by Roxy Lola