When it comes to shoes, though, the situation can be more tricky. They are, by definition of use, subjected to heavy abuse on a daily basis. A cheap pair of shoes will maybe only last you a season. For blokes, it can be easier--a decent pair of shoes or boots can be repaired many times. If you're a member of the trainer brigade, maybe not so much, although the big brands are looking at ways of making their bumpers more easily recyclable.
What if shoes were made of more obviously hard-wearing materials? Sure, the Dutch have their clogs, which, apart from the ugliness of the design, are eminently suited to a landscape that's only been precariously rescued from the sea--waterproof and able to float. But the clog is hardly a high fashion item (although with my sense of timing, let's see what Cara, Kate and co. are clomping down the catwalks in this autumn). Which is where the House Of Borgezie comes in.
The Riviera Stiletto is an elegantly crafted strappy number crafted entirely out of silver and stainless steel. The shoe is specifically designed not just to look good, but to feel comfortable. Fully lined with silicon insoles, the machining ensures that the sloping edge of the steel actually curves away from the feet. The potential for the shoe to chop off your toes and rub your heel to tatters is simply not there. It's being advertised as "the world's most comfortable stiletto."
The designer, Birmingham-based shoe designer Chris Shellis, claims that the Riviera Stiletto is a heirloom investment, easily passed down from grandma to mother to daughter (or son, depending on proclivity and shoe size). It's built to last: he claims that the materials will withstand normal wear and tear for anything up to a thousand years. I guess you'd better really love it, because if you buy the Riviera Stiletto, you're going to be living with it for a loooooooong time.
There's an element of parody behind the House Of Borgezie, but their wry commentary on the transitory nature of the business cuts to the heart of the discussion about ethical fashion. If we're serious about it, then we need to consume less and make the most of what's already in our wardrobes. The clothes we buy and wear need to last, not for a couple of seasons, but for years. With that in mind, the notion of a steel stiletto stops sounding like a joke, and more and more like a very good idea.