The solution quickly presented itself: “We wanted to create rain boots that were well-made and -designed while being ethical on a social and environmental level,” Khwaja told Ecouterre.
Made in Sri Lanka from locally sourced rubber, the boots hew closely to Alice + Whittles’s mission to promote self-sufficiency in underdeveloped communities by investing in them.
“Our boots are made using natural rubber tapped from select forests in Sri Lanka that are vetted to ensure they are environmentally responsible, socially beneficial, and sustainably managed,” Khwaja said. We also pay a fair-trade premium for each kilogram of rubber that we source. This fair-trade premium is used for the improvement of the working and living conditions of the rubber communities that depend on the forests for their survival.”
There’s also a great deal of craftsmanship involved. The process of making every pair of boots requires more than 20 different operations.
“We aren’t selling a product cranked out in mass quantities through molds, flying off the production line according to how fast machines can work or laborers can stitch,” Khwaja sakd.
Through its efforts, Alice + Whittles says it has been able to provide its workers with benefits such as subsidized breakfasts and lunches; transport to and from work; an on-site store that sells household goods, food, and drink at a discount; insurance options; and access to loans for housing, education, and illness.
“We may be partial, but we like to think that [our] rubber boots [go] strongly against the grain of the fashion industry,” Khwaja added. “We hope to be able to bring back the texture of authenticity: an option of buying a fashion item that speaks of more than just colors and cuts. An option to find value, originality and exclusivity through the very process involved in making each pair of boots.”