US footwear brand Steve Madden, which is based in Long Island City NY, recently launched a sustainable and ethical footwear brand called Cool Planet. The range is starting out small by offering on-trend sneakers and sandals in a variety of colours for Spring and Summer. Prices range between $50 to $80, and you can see the full range on the site. Like many fashion brands and retailers these days, there is a genuine attempt to produce and distribute in a way that is kinder to our planet. These are big steps in the right direction.

To quote Steve Madden: “Our shoes are for a generation that believes in a world where fashion and sustainability live together. Where using less, reusing more, and being transparent defines the status quo.

With Cool Planet, Steve Madden is leveraging the power of fashion to be a global force for good. They are making their sustainability reports public too.

Steve Madden is committed to incorporating better materials into their products and packaging, reducing and offsetting carbon emissions across their supply chain, and reclaiming used products once they’ve served their purpose. I particularly like their recycle footwear programme, which encourages you to drop off unwanted shoes in their Shoecycle boxes for recycling. On the packaging side, their boxes and bags are made of post-consumer waste, and are 100% recyclable. The brand also did its bit by generously donating PPE to our COVID-19 healthcare heroes, and helping out at homeless shelters, all this despite being hard hit themselves as a retailer surviving the global pandemic. Impressive.

I’m thrilled that a big footwear supplier like Steve Madden is making sustainable and ethical changes to their business practices, AND keeping their prices on the more affordable side. Many of the sustainable and ethical footwear brands are three to four times the price, which makes things tricky. It’s my hope that Steve Madden will make the entire brand sustainably and ethically over time and continue with their price points. If the Cool Planet brand is not to your taste at the moment, keep them on your radar anyway because you never know how a brand’s handwriting will change over time. Generally, Steve Madden footwear is too wide and not sufficiently cushioning for my own low-volume feet. But in the spirit of leaving no retail stone unturned, I will happily keep looking at their styles because I appreciate their new business model.