The Price of Sandals
We are proud of our handmade, premium leather sandals because we know exactly how much work it takes to make something that is beautiful and long lasting. Yet, the other day seeing an article about shoes of the summer by Who What Wear and seeing amongst others pair of US$46 sandals from Zara (p.s. a blatant copy of a YSL style) and $32 New Look ones, it was hard not to become disheartened and made us question what we are doing. Are we pricing competitively enough? Should we maybe try to find some cheaper leather to cut costs? Do people actually care about what they wear or do they just want the novelty of something new they can throw out in a Marie Kondo inspired joy sparking closet cleanup next year?
After a few days of anxious mulling this over made us more determined than ever before to stick to our guns because we know what we are doing is what the future of fashion needs to look like. We know that these prices are too good to be true. It’s a bargain because we don’t have to see behind the curtain to see what’s really going on. A future where the materials we purchase work with the environment as opposed to harming it, where we respect the people who make our clothes / accessories and they are paid a fair wage for their effort and one where we can be proud to wear “this old thing” again and again because it’s long lasting. If this crazy hot summer in Australia has shown us, what with record temperatures, mass fish killings due to mismanagement of one of our most important rivers as well as fires in Tasmania and other severe weather events, is that climate change is happening. Moreover, we can see around the world people in economic distress and we believe that our choices as consumers can provide a tangible solution to these issues.
Our ethos is simple - making something beautiful that is environmentally friendly and socially responsible. To do that we have chosen all the materials that go into making a pair of sandals with the utmost care to ensure that it is environmentally friendly, traceable and socially responsible. As previously discussed, we chose to use vegetable tanned kangaroo leather. As a native animal to Australia, it has less environmental impact than bovine leather (check out a previous blog post in more detail here). Additionally, it is beautiful soft leather that doesn’t need to be broken in and is very strong. We also use rhinella marina, aka cane toad which is an introduced pest to Australia. We are also adding lectae hevea heel grips (with a bit of trial and error) to help you keep your balance on our 100% leather soles. It has taken 2 years to get to the point where we are today and we will continue to improve in areas where we think we could we can find a more sustainable or responsible choice.
With that being said, let’s get back to the topic at hand and talk money. The majority of our sandals cost between AUD$175 - AUD$200. Certainly not given away but, in our opinion, a worthwhile investment. This is because all of our premium, vegetable tanned leather is sourced in Australia from tanneries that are certified sustainable. This costs quite a lot more than using imported cow hide. Our biggest cost by far is that of labour. We hand make all of our sandals in Australia, from cutting the soles by laser at a factory in Noosa, Queensland to cutting and assembling in Cherbourg. Each sandal takes about 4 -5 hrs from start to finish. We pay the Australian Award wage and will continue to increase it as we expand.
But why should you care or spend your hard earned money on our sandals as opposed to just buying a pair from Zara?
Well, as explained, we definitely can’t compete on the price. The price of a Zara or any fast fashion brand sandal says a lot. It’s a bargain because generally they use inferior materials (chrome tanned leather, synthetics such as vinyl or pleather type material) and they work on economies of scale with massive minimums to factories in developing countries where they can pay very low wages due to the cost of labour being lower. With little choice, many people, in particular woman, take jobs at these types of factories where they have little power or recourse when abuse does happen c.f the Rana Plaza tragedy and workers in Turkey placing calls for help in garments being made for fast fashion groups.
So what we will continue to compete on is the longevity of your sandals and most importantly the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you are contributing to creating a new economic model and, in turn, the type of world you want to live in.