Image of Judy Heels in White

By Annie Davidson

The word sustainability carries a lot of weight, yet its meaning can’t be summed up under one textbook definition. It’s a hypernym under which many other words, interpretations, and practices fall. Take one fashion designer, for example, who believes that there is no perfect sustainable material. Others believe that sustainability doesn’t end at the product, but should be practiced holistically from manufacturing through packaging. What all these designers can agree on, however, is that making the effort to be more sustainable, whatever that means to them, is important. Here are a few of the most innovative materials designers are working with that have allowed them to create while thinking of the effect on the planet first and foremost.

Wine Grapes

While Mirco Scoccia is experimenting with many sustainable materials for his new vegan shoe brand O2 Monde—including pineapple leaf, a corn-and-cereal concoction, wood, and more—the most uncommon is called Vitigna, or used wine grapes. Crafted exclusively from wine industry leftovers, this “wine leather” is both eco-friendly and vegan, coming straight from Tuscany’s famous vineyards. “I’m committed to creating luxury, sustainable shoes in a vegan and clean way,” Scoccia says. “To achieve my goal, I’ve been researching a lot, and I reached out to hundreds of vendors even from different categories (including furniture and cars for wood). I wanted to use plant-based materials and also work with traditional Italian manufacturers.” And for this designer, sustainability goes beyond the grapes: “To me, it’s not only about making beautiful vegan shoes, but also making sure the entire supply chain will respect certain higher standards in respect of eco-sustainable practices.”

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