NYC-based Starch Slides is a unique footwear brand that has mastered crafting the perfect slide-on shoe, whereas proudly pairing the sustainability element of up-cycling men’s shirts with vegan leather. At Starch Slides, individuality is the key — no other pair for ‘the girl on the go’ looks the same, ever. Savant talks shoes and sustainability with its founder Shannon Crowley.
Particularly considering the environmental impact, what informed the creation of Starch Slides?
As I come from a retail buying background, I wanted to bring a brand to life that was eco-friendly without looking entirely “granola”. I woke up in the middle of the night with the idea of up-cycling men’s shirts as shoes, and I sketched [my vision] and took it from there.
What's your personal relationship with sustainability? How much does it reflect in your brand?
Starch Slides is very much my personal style — they are cool, effortless, comfortable and original. I have always been aware of green living, watching my waste and hoping others do the same. I think even doing little things make a huge difference over time, and not being sustainable is irresponsible at this point. Little things, like skipping the plastic produce bag when buying oranges, using a refillable water bottle, and washing and reusing plastic Tupperwares when ordering take-out can make a big difference.
"I have thought I dislike many styles of shoes, then I see a woman rocking them and looking totally cool. This has taught me not to judge."
Your design philosophy is to create a unique, one-of-a-kind pair of shoes that no one else has. Describe the woman who starts her morning routine wearing Starch Slides…
The Starch Slides girl is a girl of any age — our audience ranges from 17 to 60. The prints of a men’s button-up shirt resonates with all ages, as the shirts are so classic. A big trend has been for mothers and daughters to each get a pair (different styles, of course), the style of slides is so simple that the shoe really changes personality based on the shirt we used to make it. They are for the girl on the go — simply slip them on and run out. Also, they come in a reusable backpack and take up little room in a suitcase, so they are a perfect travel shoe. I bring at least 4 pairs to every vacation I take.
Could you elaborate on the concept of 'vegan' leather?
Vegan leather is made of polyurethane — it is durable, playable and breathable. We use vegan leather because we want to have as small of a carbon footprint as we can possibly get. We bind the fabric from the shirt to vegan leather so your foot stays secure and the slide is very durable. Trust me, I am bashing through the streets of NYC and I have yet to wear through a pair, and I am not easy on shoes.
"Little things, like skipping the plastic produce bag when buying oranges, using a refillable water bottle, and washing and reusing plastic Tupperwares when ordering take-out can make a big difference."
What's your opinion on the fashion and footwear industry exposing itself to a greater degree of transparency? Is there still a long way to go to acting completely green?
I think that consumers are doing a great job of asking questions, this is leading brands to expose the truth behind the process of their factories. I do think many brands are taking strides where they can to become green, which is a wonderful thing to see. We have a long way to go, but I think we will get there in time.
What do you hate the most about the mass production of shoes? What makes creating a sustainable shoe difficult?
I hate the cheap prices of mass produced shoes. It’s hard to work so hard to make sure your shoes all have their own, unique personality, then walk in a store and see shoes on sale for less than lunch. People need to continue to remind themselves, “who is getting paid?”, when they see prices that are too cheap to believe.
What's the type of shoe you hate to see or wear? What makes a shoe beautiful?
I have thought I dislike many styles of shoes, then I see a woman rocking them and looking totally cool. This has taught me not to judge. I definitely have my own style, it is rocker/boho. When I am not in slides I am in sneakers or motorcycle boots. I live in New York City and always need to be in outfits that transition from day to night, [that are] easy and understated. So Starch Slides are the perfect shoe choice for this girl on the go.