Interview by Yazar Zuhal Sengul
Would you like to wear someone else’s skin? How terrible does it sound when you say that? As people learned about the dark realities behind the leather production industry, more and more people started to prefer ethical leather alternatives. As consumers reject real leather, more well known brands have started to be a part of this ethical change by adding vegan leather options to their collections. The Italian shoe designer Mirco Scoccia, who has worked with giant brands such as Bottega Veneta, Cole Haan and Tory Burch, has made his dreams come true by creating a shoe brand that is completely natural and vegan. The formation phase of vegan leather, which is produced with great care and effort and is certified by the world’s largest animal rights organization PETA, is quite interesting. But is it really possible to produce quality leather that does not harm animals and the environment? Mirco Scoccia, who managed to bring this genius idea to life has the answers. I leave you with this very special interview.
What made you think of creating a vegan shoe brand?
After working for more than 20 years for top luxury and contemporary brands, I wanted to come up with a disruptive footwear project, while combining the best of my experience with today’s consumer values. I’d like to permanently shift the luxury accessories paradigm by offering design-forward, truly sustainable, cruelty-free and exquisitely handcrafted footwear that honors the Earth’s heritage and protects its future. The ‘O2 Monde‘ project is the synthesis of my experience.
My main goal is to make effortless, expressive shoes that benefit both people and the planet. I want to create timeless, limited edition designs that are also impeccably handcrafted in Italy from the newest and most sustainable eco-materials.
Nowadays, it’s popular among big brands to manufacture in countries where cheap labor is legal, which results in far too many human right’s disasters. I wanted to go back to my roots and produce vegan footwear collections in Italy with fair labor, adequate wages and better treatment of factory workers. Additionally, I started researching alternative materials to traditional leather, with the highest percentage of renewable plant origin (like pineapple, wine, wood and corn) and the lowest environmental impact of its raw materials and manufacturing processes. Because the footwear industry is so bloated with cheap goods already, I firmly believe it’s ethical and sustainable to concentrate on producing fewer shoes of higher quality. And because there are also plenty of other aspects involved in establishing an eco-conscious business, I’d like to pay attention also to every single detail, like shipping methods. For example, instead of packaging my product in unnecessary plastic, I’m going to use recycled materials.
Finally, a few words on the inspiration behind the name of my brand, O2 Monde, since I was thinking of a name that could speak to this ethos. O2 represents pure oxygen: the third most common element in the universe and a building block of life. Monde means ‘world’ in French. It also refers to people and community.
What material do you make the shoes from?
I’ve been researching the most innovative materials available and their vendors for the last few years. 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.
That is why every element of O2 Monde shoes – from insoles and lasts to adhesives and uppers is made from sustainable, plant-based materials sourced from the world’s most innovative eco-materials manufacturers.
I’ll also be using 100% of all materials (whereas traditional leather shoes use only a percentage of a hide, due to natural imperfections). Further, cutting scraps will be captured and recycled, and skin finishing will be minimal because plant-based materials are naturally perfect.
Using textiles such as Freska, made from a mixture of corn and cereal, Pinatex, from pineapple, Vitigna, a leather-like material derived from grape skins, Bioveg made from sustainable vegan leather which combines recycled polyester reclaimed from water bottles as well as natural and real wood.