A scrappy footwear label is giving Brazil's billion-dollar leather industry a run for its money. In defiance of its country's reputation for tanned goods, Insecta Shoes, based in the southern city of Porto Alegre, makes its vegan-friendly sapatos from a blend of vintage clothing, post-consumer recycled plastic bottles, and reclaimed rubber. Everything is produced locally in small batches, which means that each oxford, slipper, and boot is few, if not one of a kind. "Our keyword is reusability: increasing the life cycle of what is already out in the world," the company writes on its website. "Insecta is unique, handcrafted in limited numbers, and is never repeated, ever."
Despite Brazil’s worst recession in more than two decades, Insecta made its first million reais ($300,000) just this past year, according to BBC News.
Owner and co-founder Barbara Mattivy credits this to the shoes’ “eco-sexy” nature. The designs are meant to be seasonless and genderless.
Insecta mostly retails in its native Brazil, but you can also find it at MooShoes in the United States.
Beyond shoes, the company has explored collaborations with kindred firms such as Colibrii, whose artisans make backpacks and wristlets from secondhand denim and other castoff materials.
Color and conscience? Yes, please.