After being founded in 2010, Soludos quickly rose in popularity and stood out from their competitors due to their creative and colorful shoes ranging from $75 to $149. Although Soludos claims to produce leather sustainably on their FAQ page, I am saddened to see that Soludos does not have a page dedicated to sustainability, nor do they have a sustainability statement or any goals they hope to achieve for limiting environmental impact. After reviewing Soludos' production and sourcing processes for their Rainbow Wave Sneaker, I was saddened to see the lack of transparency and unsustainable use of leather in the sneakers. At the moment, Soludos does not seem entirely trustworthy or sustainable; for them to take a first step towards improving in their sustainability practices, I would like to see them being open with the manufacturing and sourcing process for all their sneakers. It seems like Soludos may think they are doing their part in sustainability by using chrome-free leather, but just the use of chrome-free leather does not mean Soludos’ job is done; like all other corporations, Soludos should be actively attempting to minimize their impact on the environment.
For this review, I focused on one of Soludos’ best selling shoes, the Rainbow Wave Sneaker. Costing $139, the upper part of the Rainbow Wave Sneaker is made of tumbled leather with colorful embroideries, while the sole consists of rubber. The general production of rubber is unsustainable, as it is derived from oil and after its use, tends to pollute and persist in ecosystems. Soludos uses chrome-free leather, making their shoes slightly more sustainable than traditional leather containing chrome. The elimination of chrome from Soludos’ leather tanning process protects the health of factory workers and reduces potential metal pollution in water and the surrounding environment. Furthermore, Soludos’ leather is rated ‘gold’ according to the Leather Working Group (LWG). LWG is a group of professionals in the leather industry that inspects companies on their sustainability standards and performance capabilities, and Soludos received their highest rating. Although Soludos uses chrome-free leather, the overall production of leather releases a large amount of greenhouse gases from livestock production. Deforestation and agriculture for livestock feed that is necessary for leather production must be accounted for as well, and the process of leather tanning still uses harmful chemicals that can contaminate groundwater and disrupt the environment.
For popular shoes like their Rainbow Wave Sneaker, Soludos does not detail the actual manufacturing process. The sneakers have an Ortholite molded insole, with rainbows and sun rays embroidered on the outside. I noticed a pattern on Soludos’ website, where they would disclose many more details about shoes that had conveniently sustainable production and sourcing processes. For example, looking into Soludos’ more sustainable Ashore collection gave me much more information, where I could easily see that these sneakers were made from four consumer recycled bottles. From a consumer standpoint, it feels like Soludos utilizes the term ‘sustainability’ as a marketing ploy and trendy term to draw in unsuspecting customers. It gives the company a stronger reputation and certain shoes a better overall look while in reality, many of Soludos’ popular shoes show little to no efforts to be sustainable. Disappointingly, Soludos states that their materials like leather, rubber, and insole are “sourced from all over.” Such a bland and general statement takes away from the company’s credibility and gives no actual information on sourcing. Furthermore, because Soludos is based in New York City and their factories are all located in various places, the carbon emissions from shipping and transportation of materials and products must be considered.
Soludos has factories in China, Brazil, and Portugal, but no further information on who exactly produces the shoes. The FAQ further mentions that Soludos production staff “routinely” visit these factories to ensure safe and ethical working standards. Using “routinely” to describe how often Soludos staff regulate working conditions at their factories is too vague, and is frustrating to hear. It would be better for Soludos to specify how many times per week, month, or year staff visit to ensure fair treatment of workers. Soludos further explains that they have third parties that ensure proper labor regulations at the factories at least once a year. From a consumer perspective, this is concerning, as Soludos does not detail who the third parties are, how they ensure fair working conditions, and “at least once a year” does not feel like enough regulation to properly enforce consistent and fair working conditions.