You probably remember that I’ve mentioned Naya before, the a new shoe line with a conscious, creating fashionable, eco-friendly styles that considers everything down tot the packaging of its products. I had the pleasure of interviewing the brand’s designer Kasey Gibbs, to find out more about the process of creating eco-friendly shoes, the brand’s mission, and future goals.
Fashion Pulse Daily: What is your personal experience with being eco-friendly, and what is your past design experience that brought you to Naya?
Kasey Gibbs: Supporting products that are gentle on the earth has always been important to me. My husband and I both make purchasing decisions based on whether or not a product’s packaging is renewable and try to compost and recycle our own trash as much as possible. I also only drive hybrids and can be seen around town in my Ford Fusion or Escape. There are many easy changes that each person can make, whether it’s not purchasing eggs in styrofoam containers or using paper instead of plastic bags at the grocery store.
The footwear industry has been creating eco-friendly shoes that were great for hiking or sitting by the campfire, but Naya understands that women want eco-friendly footwear that fits into more aspects of their life. Women have a desire to help the environment but they also want to express their femininity and style. The home goods industry has been “doing it right” for a while now. From bamboo flooring and sustainable glass to all the recyclable products – they made me see that products could be eco-friendly while still being beautiful. Observing the positive progress of the home goods industry, I was really inspired by the idea that it could be possible in footwear.
This is my first experience designing for an eco-friendly brand, though I have many years of experience in footwear design.
FPD: What was your biggest challenge in creating this line?
KG: The most challenging part about designing eco-friendly shoes was the paradigm switch or change in thought process we went through with our sources. However, it has completely changed the way we think about making shoes. We feel this will eventually be a big change for the entire industry if the consumer makes the choice to buy more stylish, comfortable, eco-friendly products. We know women want to look good, feel good and do good for themselves and the environment.
FPD: Can you tell me some of the key eco-friendly materials in the design?
KG: Naya chooses natural and earth-friendly materials whenever possible, including: vegetable-tanned leathers and linings, fabrics made with natural or recycled materials, foot beds containing natural cork, outsoles made with recycled materials, water-based cements, boxes made with 80 percent recycled paper pulp, soy-based inks and water-based glue.
Naya also reduces consumption by using recycled shoeboxes, reusable shoe bags, shoe forms made with recycled PET (recycled soda bottles) and creating earth-friendly ways to deliver our message.
FPD: Which style are you most excited about for fall?
KG: I love the Bakula, which goes with all of my favorite fall work wear. For the evening, I love Narubi in every color. It is perfect to wear with skinny jeans, leggings and short skirts. It’s so versatile it can be worn with the cuff down or up for that over-the-knee look that is so on trend for this fall.
FPD: I’d love to learn more about the process: finding these materials, manufacturing the shoes, what it was like producing eco-friendly shoes on a larger scale.
KG: Naya uses recycled content fabrics and boxes made with 80 percent recycled paper pulp. Naya shoes with a wedge heel are made from cork and recycled TPR, a material similar to rubber. Naya is also utilizing bamboo and leawood in many of our heels. Additionally, Naya utilizes scrap leather for linings which are part of Naya’s comfort promise, as they make the shoes feel smooth on the foot.
At Naya, our mission is to leave a gentler footprint on the planet and make eco-friendly choices wherever we can. Currently, we are making great strides in the use of eco-friendly materials and design elements, and this makes Naya’s overall carbon footprint smaller.
FPD: Ultimately, what would you like to achieve with Naya?
KG: We’re really pleased with the progress we have made so far as the first eco-friendly shoe line under Brown Shoe Company, Inc. We see this as a journey, with Naya as the first step. We’ve made a lot of progress in finding earth-friendly materials and components and we’re excited about the changes and our ability to make them affordable for women. We hope to generate as much awareness as possible about the importance of softening your global footprint.
FPD: For 2011, what can we look forward to? Will mens or other accessories be added to Naya?
We’re always looking for new earth-friendly initiatives that are important to Naya customers.. During April 2010, Naya partnered with Plant It 2020 for the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. For every pair of Naya Shoes bought on shoes.com, a tree was planted. We met our goal of planting more than 5,000 trees in one month.
This fall we are launching a campaign called Renew Your Soles, in which women can return gently worn pairs of shoes to be donated to people in need or if the shoes are at the end of their lifetime they will be recycled. We will provide you more information on this campaign as soon as possible.
We are interested in expanding the Naya brand in the future, but for now, we are focusing solely on creating the highest quality earth-friendly footwear for women.