When shoes look good, you like them. When shoes feel good, you love them. And when shoes do good, you just can’t but help to love them even more. For Spring 2011, Reef is bringing some sandals to the market that spread love each and every step of the way. The Ugandal3 features the recycled craftwork of displaced women in Uganda, while the Ah-Sy-Ee uses the leftover seed of the açaí berry. Both of these sandals use stylish, eco-conscious design elements, but I think it’s quite notable of Reef to not only create to help the environment, but also to provide justice for women and children. For Women’s Equality Day, educate yourself on this sandal and be inspired to not only celebrate the justice for ladies in the U.S., but for women all over the globe working towards equality.
The Ugandal3, the third sandal in the Ugandal collection, features one of my favorite forms of paper arts, the rolled paper bead. If any of you ladies ever rolled up your old fashion magazines into jewelry, then you know what I’m talking about. Reef cleverly utilizes this sustainable form of craft in the embellishment of their sandal. These handmade, colorful paper beads are made by a group women from Gulu, Uganda, and then purchased through fair-trade from the humanitarian organization, 31 Bits. Because of this partnership, the team of women has multiplied from 5 to 60 since the first sandal release in Spring 2010! These women, once displaced by war, now have jobs that can provide food, shelter, and education for their families.
The Ugandal3 is also part of the Reef Redemption Program, meaning that not only are the beads green and eco-friendly, but the hardware is recycled, the adhesives are water-based, and the leather is chrome-free. To top it all off, portions of proceeds from the sales go back to help the environments and communities of the beaches and reefs, proving that Reef is committed to sustaining the surf heritage where they come from.
While I love the concept of these shoes, I especially love the look of the sandal. Every bead comes from a different page of a magazine, making each bead as unique as the women who made them. The soft leather comes in either white or brown, and the slingback ruffle in the back makes it easy to wear. Currently, the Ugandal2, the Summer 2010 release with a simple white strap and row of beads, can be found in shops. Expect to see the Ugandal3 in stores January 2011, retailing for $60.
That’s not the only conscious collaboration for Reef this season, as they have also teamed up with Açaí Roots to release the Ah-Sy-Ee sandal. This sandal features the seeds of the powerful antioxidant, the açaí (pronounced Ah-Sy-Ee) berry. The seeds are otherwise discarded when the fruit is harvested, but Reef saw the potential for reusing this bi-product and painted the seed to adorn the strap of the sandal. The final product is another well-crafted sandal with a story to tell. Reef and Açaí Roots both extend their focus on humanitarian efforts, because this collaboration has already provided a positive impact on the land and the people of the Amazon. Not only does Açaí Roots utilize sustainable farming practice and jobs for farmers, 100% of the profits from the purchase of the seeds for this project go directly to Rhythm of Hope, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of underpriveledged city children of Brazil. Reef, thank you for realizing that fashion should never be at the expense of anything or anyone else, and that it could be a means for providing more than just wears for the people.
Those are only two of the up-and-coming sandals from Reef for Spring 2011. If you’re familiar with Reef products then you know that they have a focus on comfort. Another sandal worth mentioning is the Sweet Dreams sandal, a sandal that will make any tired, hard-working woman in this world feel like they’re walking on a bed of clouds. The insole features a cushioned, soft-pillowtop, while the straps are lined in a soft satin. For the ladies that don’t get enough sleep, this sandal might be the closest you can get to sleepwalking! I’m also loving the sandals with mood-changing beads, available for both women and children. If I were to wear these sandals right now, you would be able to tell that I’m so happy to see companies doing good deeds while making good products.