Love Sofie from Sweden reflects a kinder way of crafting shoes — the animal-free and durable shoes are ready to lift you into great heights, without compromising comfort and multifunctional craftsmanship. Pairing vegan materials with being all over the heels about footwear, Love Sofie’s loving team takes inspiration from the synergy between nature-appreciative lifestyle and intertwines it with an innovative approach to transparent brand strategy. Love Sofie’s kind, multitasking shoes are here to help your everyday run smoother wherever your steps take you, proving that animal skins in shoe design are surely a thing of the past. These Savant-approved gorgeous pairs invite you master the shoe came this fall, you'll be right ready to slay the audiences with ease.
Words: Hanna-Amanda Pant
Hey, Love Sofie team from Sweden! Emma and Sofie, I would love to start this discussion today by exploring your professional backgrounds prior to Love Sofie that eased the creation of your own brand?
Emma currently runs the brand alignment and strategy at Love Sofie. After years of working for known fashion brands, such as Acne Studios and Whyred, as well as at a big advertising and design agency in Stockholm for about 15 years, focusing on communication within all areas — beauty, fashion, retail, fast consumer brands, food, art and so on, Emma slowly started craving for change. Working in the fashion industry and witnessing its behind-the-scenes is what informed the big shift in her career. “I started exploring my options and could see it was possible to represent better values and stand up for a good cause, and still make good profit, but at least not at the cost of people or the environment,” she says.
“The idea started with a sample from Italy. It was a magic shoe. All grey and the most beautiful piece of art you can ever imagine. It was breathtaking. How could a shoe be this fantastic? What is the fabric? Then the curiosity just collapsed into pieces of sadness. The truth about the grey fabric — it was elephant skin. It was so horrible. I had to leave the room. I couldn’t stand the fact we had a sample made from a dead elephant,” reflects Emma. It was there and then that she decided to become part of a bigger and better fashion brand with kind, animal-free values. Not necessary political values, not so much angry values. On the contrary, it simply had to encompass a more kind way of creating fashion for a well-educated target audience. After all, the art of making vegan shoes is not more complicated than everything you can create in leather. Love Sofie can create the same piece in vegan, animal-free, sustainable fabric. It’s fantastic!
Sofie, who is the designer of the shoes and accessories, had worked as a fashion designer for more than 13 years. She started her own business not to just participate passively, but with a real mission to dedicate time for changing what she felt was wrong within the industry. “As I was employed, I often saw things that I believed were wrong, such as poorly paid workers, bad working conditions and poor respect for the environment, but could do nothing about it. I slowly matured a strong need for change, and decided to start my own business where I could make this change happen,” Sofie tells what motivated her to act upon her dreams.
How did the environmentally friendly brand Love Sofie then materialise with its new values on the basis of previous experiences in the fashion industry, and made you really slay the audiences with that visual vocabulary?
Today, the company Love Sofie stands on a solid ground of being kind all the way from design, to production to interaction with the customers. Love Sofie works with sustainable, animal-free fabrics and creates a harmony in the fact that many parts are reusable, renewable and possible to use again in another creation, if you like. All the fabrics are in high, breathable quality, so you can use your shoes or bags for ages. And they only look better in time. It’s the knowledge of the fabrics, the production and the complete chain of high standards set to product quality, humanity and animal-free policy that creates the motivation and the power to continue.
What are the ugly truths about fast fashion (and fast footwear!) that Love Sofie boycotts against?
There are always companies that make quick money and do not care about work conditions, materials and the production, the entire supply chain. It’s not just present in the shoes industry, it can be witnessed everywhere. For Love Sofie, it is important not to boycott against fast fashion or tell everyone they are doing wrong. People do things for a purpose. Then you can find it right or wrong. It is certainly not our task to tell someone they are wrong. It’s our task to do what we highlight as important. For us it is of utmost importance we deliver 100% kind products. We will not push the limits to get things done in any other way than kind. Sometimes it might take a little bit longer to get things to be made on time, but it is worth it to get the quality required; the standards and the good feeling first in line. If you share our beliefs, then you know you have a kind piece of art in your hand when you buy shoes or accessories from Love Sofie.
“It is great to just have an interest in caring about our world, and the people and animals around you. Every little shift in mindset and action matters when it comes to how you choose to eat, dress and live.”
Sofie describes a life change that brought about a change of course. "New values and perspectives were channeled into creating a life full of meaning and design full of purpose." How did the brand grow out of these new personal-life values?
Sofie went through some really tough times in her life where everything she ever believed in was suddenly being questioned. This made such an impact that her values and beliefs slowly started changing and she started to see life differently. As Sofie herself describes it: “Her transformation led to big decisions, such as moving back to Sweden, and eventually starting her own brand where she could incorporate these new values.”
How does Love Sofie support sustainable fashion, relying on the core values of the brand?
The DNA of Love Sofie brand is to wake up every morning knowing we contribute to a more kind world. For Love Sofie, a more kind world is the one where you highlight sustainability. Where you only produce the amount of shoes the target audience asks for. Where you only work with fabrics where standards of sustainable, recyclable, renewable, animal-free and possible-to-wear-for-ages quality have been met and are in sync. All the fabrics must be produced with care, with sustainable standards, and be certified. We also must keep up with the same, high standards when it comes to employees. At Love Sofie, we always work with as little deliveries as possible. We try to keep the delivery chains as tight and logistics-positive as possible. Everything to save the environment as much a possible.
Is there anything particular that has informed the founders' love for shoes?
Of course, we all love shoes! Shoes are such a big part of a sustainable lifestyle. When you wear a really nice pair of comfy shoes you have a complete look in place. You can use your shoes and mix and match them in whatever ways you want. It’s a great way of being sustainable in your styling — by having really nice shoes and keep reusing them.
“It’s in the collaboration of being close to a nature-appreciative, urban lifestyle and the synergy between the location and people where you find the inspiration for Love Sofie.”
Is there a pair each member of your team absolutely cannot live without? Explain why they're favourites.
To pick out the goodies from our autumn collection, Sofie would always pick sneakers. Billie is the favourite with it’s cool origami heart studs, as well as conveys a really soft and chic look. Emma, who prefers heels, wears Nice almost every day and night. They are perfect to work in, head straight to school with to pick up the kids, and then out to attend events and do networking in the evening. Nice are just the perfect shoes. Anders will always go for heels to pick out favourites to his girlfriend. Hard match between Jazz and Palme, to pick just one style.
The speed of fashion now is terrifying. Collections change so rapidly, in an instant. It seems like it only takes a nanosecond from the latest trends being ripped off straight from the catwalks and sent into production by fast fashion companies. Why should we end this cycle and support transparency in both fashion and footwear production?
This is always a sad truth. It’s very hard for all the hard-working designers who create the innovative and breathtaking new collections. For us at Love Sofie, will we always lean on the saying of the legendary Coco Chanel. She said the biggest reward for her great designs was when people started to copy her work. So, we can only turn off this feeling of sadness and do better, push the design even further, not feel stressed about other brands copying, and for the process running too fast. We have to stick to our DNA, our belief system. We can only run our brand, and what we believe in. We can only keep on inviting people into our world, and our way of creating a kind and sustainable community where we have excellent design and transparent production of our products to offer. We can only be part of the change by being an example of a better way of buying excellent shoes and accessories.
How does your brand's geographical location perhaps direct the design of the shoes design at Love Sofie?
Love Sofie is situated in the city center of Höganäs. Just between the ocean, the landscape and the never-ending work of hundreds of interesting entrepreneurs. This makes the life and inspiration around us so various. You have the possibility to be in the middle of everything since you meet people who travel all over the world. They buy and bring the most fantastic design back home, as well as the ones who spend more time close to nature. It’s in the collaboration of being close to a nature-appreciative, urban lifestyle and the synergy between the location and people where you find the inspiration for Love Sofie. The need and the demand for shoes for work, for beach, for party and for the smooth running of the everyday life. The inspiration also lies in the need for a shoe you have the possibility to wear for a long day and a long time. Also, to spice it up with a heel to look feminine and beautiful. It is important for Love Sofie to give every person a possibility to feel cool, beautiful and comfy.
How have you solved the matter that always persists: production of less popular sizes?
From a brand’s perspective, we will also try to produce smaller sizes and bigger sizes because of the growing demand. It’s in the DNA of being kind; of being able to produce sizes that are rarely common. We work on it. But it takes some time, since we have to be innovative and push the limit of what is standard. So, in the future, hopefully we have worked out a great way in a kind collaboration between our producers and factories.
What are the exact innovative eco-friendly materials you are using? Do the materials you use restrict the production in any ways at all?
We prefer staying away from plastics as much as possible. We never use PVC. Our synthetic leathers are always of the best quality. Plant leather is one of the most innovative materials of our time. A material that lowers the carbon footprint of our products without sacrificing style in any way. Our plant leather is made by mixing PU with corn and seed oils. This mixture is laminated together in layers to create something that feels and acts like animal leather. This vegan option doesn’t harm any animals and is breathable, strong and water repellent. We also choose recycled materials whenever possible. For example, all our prints are in recycled polyester. It takes much less energy to make recycled polyester than it does to make virgin polyester. Recycled polyester has a 75% lower carbon footprint than virgin polyester.
Emma, how do your days differ now when your compare your days working as a brand consultant, and now, when taking the Love Sofie brand forward with a kinder message to the world?
A lot! To work with a kind message and a product I really believe in, is just fantastic. To have the possibility to work with the brand alignment all the way, from strategy to production. To know every detail we communicate is anchored in reality. There are no ugly secrets I cannot talk about. All the contrary. The brand alignment and the possibility of living the brand full-on is a dream. It’s a fantastic and inspiring journey. Very unselfish and very free from negative connotations.
Often when you believe in a brand and work with a brand, time and budget ends. You have to leave your beliefs for someone else to realise. As a consultant, you are willing to do so much more and lift a brand to the sky. But there are limits for the brand owners. Which is of course understandable, yet frustrating sometimes. Now, with Love Sofie, there are no limits. I have the possibility to rock my own expertise and show it to the world. My biggest fear is not to reach out as wide and large as we possibly can. If something is unclear, I have tried to peel off everything that goes without saying, and just focus on a clear, kind message. It brings so much happiness and joy back to everyone.
Name a few reasons why we should always opt for sustainably made shoes, and not support the use of animal skins, although they may look pretty.
The primary reason to go for vegan and sustainable fabrics in shoes and accessories will be the top quality. There’s no reason to not go for a better option than animal skin. There are so many possibilities in fabrics today — they are awesome and it is easy to create beautiful, multifunctional designs out of them. They are also comfortable and come in breathable, flexible varieties.
What are the simple things, the no-brainers, we can all do to end any kind of exploitation taking place in the fashion industry?
It is important we altogether work and highlight the questions regarding environment, as well as how to treat our animals. All of us must focus on a more slow and balanced everyday life. You don’t have to be an activist or have political reasons to care. It is great to just have an interest in caring about our world, and the people and animals around you. Every little shift in mindset and action matters when it comes to how you choose to eat, dress and live.
What are some of Love Sofie's personal tips for curating a more lasting shoe collection and avoid waste? What are the simple 'shoe rules' we can all follow?
Buy and wear comfortable shoes. They must fit on your foot. It’s better to go for one size bigger and add a sole than to buy them one size too small. Buy shoes in good quality that help you to create a nice silhouette of your body. Buy shoes that are wearable and multitasking. Shoes you can wear at work, for relaxing after work and at weekends. To spice it up and create a beautiful emotion, buy a pair of heels. Practice at home. Walk in heels and find your comfort zone where you walk in heels and feel beautiful. If you find it hard, start with more easy heels, like our Nice. That kind of heel is on your foot. They are designed to follow your step. So, practice. Start out with a pair that is more easy and then in just a little time you will party all night long in really cool heels, like Jazz or Jeune. Promise.
Geographically, it seems that Scandinavia is much ahead with eco-conscious thinking. Why do you think the Swedes have particularly embraced that mindset and reportedly care about the environment and the concept of recycling?
Probably because we learn and speak about a ‘sustainable living’ from an early age, and it gives space for reflection. It touches upon different areas, for example, political parties focusing on environmental protection is an ever-growing part of politics. The infrastructure and knowledge are based upon the fact that it works. Often when great and kind things happen and really make a change more people are willing to catch up. That’s a snowball effect for you. So knowledge, interest and many people affecting each other must be some of the reasons. Probably there’s many more.
“There are no easy ways out or quick fixes, you have to walk the extra mile in every detail, every day.”
Are there any great failures you have had to go through and appreciate in the process of launching Love Sofie? How have you embraced that failure as a learning-curve and moved on?
We haven’t completely failed at anything (yet) in the process. Of course, we have learned a few hard lessons. For example, we believed in a large client who turned out being a total fraud, and cost us almost everything we had in the budget. Sometimes you just have to go for it and believe in people. But often, when it sounds to good to be true, well, then its effect is often just like a balloon that will eventually pop along the way. So, we are more aware of people who just speak, they must prove themselves to be serious before it’s time for a collaboration and real business.
Another tricky part for a new up and comer is to get the earned respect from the producers. We are not just lucky number 10. We are here to stay. We will continue to push for the certificates, for great fabrics, for innovative solutions and fantastic design. We will stick to our DNA: we will continue to wake up every morning knowing we contribute to a more kind world. There are no easy ways out or quick fixes, you have to walk the extra mile in every detail, every day. Everything for being able to speak up, and create a more kind, vegan, sustainable, trustworthy community.
Which are the absolute must-have shoes from your collection for this fall?
When it comes to heels, no doubt: NICE
When it comes to sneakers, no doubt: BILLIE
When it comes to flats, no doubt: COCO