I'm not going to lie to you. It has not been the greatest of summers. Ok, there's been a bit of sun, but overall it's not been t-shirt and flip-flop weather, has it?
Which means, for those of us who find casual is best, jeans and sneakers has been the look of the season. Which, of course, come with their own set of ethical pitfalls. Denim is notoriously water-wasteful–although research is ramping up nicely into ways to make the process less thirsty.
When it comes to footwear, you don't get more ubiquitous than the Converse Chuck Taylor Allstar. Recently revamped for the 21st century with a ton of new features, you see them everywhere. And although they're not bad in an ethical sense (parent company Nike have a surprisingly good record on CSR) you can do better.
Startas + Co began making canvas shoes in Croatia in the 1930s. Through turbulent times and giant geopolitical shifts, their factory in Vukovar made shoes that were iconic throughout Eastern Europe. Clean lined, pure and sharp. A look that defined the times.
In the early 90s, the factory sadly closed as the Berlin Wall fell and borders shifted. But now Startas + Co are back, with the same focus on quality and style at a great price. More importantly, they are produced to strict ethical and sustainable guidelines. Completely vegan, made in the same factory that Startas started in, the shoes are handmade from natural materials. Quirky design touches like differently coloured laces and detachable bows mean that Startas shoes stand out from the wannabes in this crowded market.
The company's recent UK launch focuses on women's shoes, with a curated range of classic looks. If you want to see more, they'll ship to the UK from their international site for a fee. The men's shoes have a certain sunny Euro-flair that I find quite pleasing.
Look, we might get an Indian summer yet. It's not quite time to haul out the heavy boots. If you're in the market for a pair of ethical and quirky bumpers to see you into the autumn, Startas + Co could be just the thing you're looking for.
Here's to the sunshine.