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    Our 5 commandments for a sustainable sneaker

    For a few years now, eco-responsible, ecological or sustainable fashion brands have been flourishing. If these brands are positioned this way, it is because the traditional textile industry does not respect the environment or the working conditions of its employees.

    For Ubac, what do we mean by sustainable fashion or responsible fashion?

    These terms have become generic and completely obscured. This is why we wanted to share with you our 5 commandments, which are always at the center of our reflections when it comes to developing a new product.

    At every stage of development, the thought process is always at the forefront of creation, with one question: how can we have the lowest possible impact on the environment?

    Before we start, we have to define what we mean by sustainable. For Anni Hartsia (who wrote a very interesting thesis on the economics of the textile industry), creating a sustainable product involves three dimensions: economic, social and environmental. Now that we have laid the foundations, let us explain our approach and our vision.

    Pulls à recycler

    1st commandment- Choose a natural material with low impact and as close as possible

    In the choice of the material, we privilege a natural and/or recycled material with low impact with a transformation as near as possible.

    We then inquire about the way it is produced, the steps of transformation which it needs to arrive at a final material and we make sure that it is one of the best alternatives for the environment. 

    For example, we chose recycled wool because it comes from wool sweaters from French and European clothing relays. No resources are therefore taken back into nature. These steps of transformation save water, energy and chemical dyes in comparison with a new fiber.

    - 1st step: reception of woolen sweaters coming from clothing relay stations. These are sorted by color, so there is no need to re-dye the wool!

    - 2nd step: defibration of these clothes which will be recycled by a unique and patented process. It is the result of 10 years of research in partnership with French and Italian engineers.

    - 3rd step: Jean-Michel, the colorist and star of the spinning mill will be able to mix several colors of these defibered sweaters (which now look like new wool) to obtain new ones.

    - 4th step: The regenerated fibers integrate the classic process of a spinning mill (carding + spinning).

    Then, this yarn goes to Castres, still in the Tarn (81), to Pierre who will weave with love to obtain the final material that you find on our sneakers, a soft, supple material but dense enough to be strong and waterproof.

    A source close to our workshop

    At this stage, we will examine the origin of each material that will be used in the manufacturing of our sneakers. We will question the traceability and the place where this material is transformed. It can be a spinning mill, a weaver, a sole manufacturer or a lace manufacturer. We try to minimize the transport between these actors and our manufacturing workshops.

    For example on VOLA and TERRA: Apart from our recycled wool + spun + woven in Castres in France, almost all our other components (soles, laces, labels) are manufactured within a 100km radius of our manufacturing workshop.

    Assemblage d'une basket Terra

    Here is the list of materials and their origins used for the manufacturing of VOLA and TERRA sneakers:

    - Recycled wool + yarn (France)

    - Sugar cane soles (Portugal)

    - Recycled rubber soles (Portugal)

    - Inner soles (Portugal)

    - Recycled PET laces (Portugal)

    The choice and the origin of the materials, it is thus a crucial step for us, but which can prove to be rather complicated, especially in the shoe where several components are necessary. So we take our time and we do not let go, even if it means postponing the release of a product. 

    Also, many fast fashion brands do not ask themselves as many questions and go for the cheapest, even if this choice implies great damage for the environment and the populations. Sometimes, they are not even able to know where exactly the materials they use come from since a large part of the production is subcontracted.

    2nd commandment - Create eco-designed collections

    By "eco-designed collection" we mean both the eco-design linked to the creation of a new model but also the choice of a reasoned production with reduced collections.

    Creating a new model combines design and ecological awareness

    After choosing materials, we have to give them a shape, a style, a life. All this is the work of Adeline, our stylist. She draws the models by combining design and waste. The goal is not to produce with responsible materials to say that we are an eco-friendly company, that would not make sense.

    The goal is to design a minimal sneaker that limits the use of different components.

    PFor example, for VOLA, the entire upper is made of only two parts, which also reduces the amount of waste.

    Vola Bleu Marin

    2 collections per year VS 52 collections for fast fashion

    In order not to fall into the rhythm of fast fashion which releases about 52 "capsules" per year (a capsule is a collection, so we count about one every week) and not to make you consume more than necessary, we realease 2 collections per year. This reduced range with few products concentrates the essential: a good mix between a reasoned production and enough choice.

    This way we avoid overproduction, a real environmental scourge. Also we often provide our new products on pre-order, this allows you to benefit from a reduced price and us to produce what you really need on demand.

    The result: products that are well thought-out and qualitative. They have been designed to please you and follow you for a long time, not for you to keep them in the bottom of a closet after being worn four times.

    In addition, you should know that for each shoe model created, a new pattern and a new last must be made for each size, which adds a considerable cost to the production, but also to the planet if you don't like the shoes.

    This is also why your opinion is so important and why we have created the "Coming soon" section which allows you to co-develop our future products.

    3rd commandment- Manufacture in Portugal and France

    Humanizing the entire production chain allows us to realize the impact of our manufacturing. It is also a great way to create encounters based on mutual respect and trust.

    We regularly visit our manufacturers which allows us to understand their technical constraints and the way things are made. This also creates a lot of flexibility and allows us to innovate easily.

    To summarize, here is a list of the benefits of manufacturing locally:

    - Manufacturing in France and Portugal

    - The respect of the working conditions of the craftsmen

    - The fair remuneration of everyone

    - Trust and mutual respect

    - Innovation

    And when you think about the definition of "sustainable", this social point is extremely important. We want to guarantee you sustainable products, not only for the environment, but also for the people who make them.

    Karine Renouil et Mathilde Blettery
    Macareux Moines

    4th Commandment - Donate a share of your turnover to environmental protection

    For each product purchased, we donate a portion of our profits to a nature conservation organization.

    The League for the Protection of Birds (LPO)

    With more than 57 000 members, 8 000 active volunteers, 400 employees on the national territory and a network of local associations active in 83 departments, the LPO is today the first association of nature protection in France.

    It works daily to

    - protect the animals and plants to preserve biodiversity.

    - preserve the spaces, in particular through the creation of natural parks.

    - educate and sensibilise on the environment through a variety of actions such as LPO outings, digital campaigns and magazines.

    In France LPO is the official partner of BirdLife International network (120 representatives and nearly 2.8 million members worldwide).

    Financing the LPO allows to act for the protection of the biodiversity everywhere in France with a very particular care granted for the safeguard of the birds.

    5th commandment - Always be consistent with the small details that make a difference

    Creating responsible sneakers also means taking care of their packaging and shipping, so here again we can work to reduce our impact.

    Shipments designed to limit over-packaging

    We ship all of our sneakers directly in their boxes, thus avoiding over-packaging and unnecessary waste.

    We also take care to use recycled and recyclable kraft tape. Of course our boxes are made of recycled and recyclable cardboard. They are manufactured a few kilometers from the workshops where our sneakers are made.

    No express delivery to avoid an extra heavy impact

    We do not offer express delivery. "Delivering in a hurry, in small quantities, and multiplying trips increase fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions", underlines the Ademe in its report "La face cachée du numérique" (The hidden face of the digital world) of January 2021.

    Boîte à chaussure Ubac

    Our 5 commandments are not exhaustive and only reflect our commitments in their entirety. So, committing to sustainable fashion is not just about explaining what we are already doing. It is also to look for solutions to improve constantly.

    We try to do well, but above all to do better, by always improving our manufacturing processes, by looking for suppliers and manufacturers who help us produce the most sustainable footwear possible. There are always many ways to improve: for example, our sugarcane soles are made in Portugal, but the sugarcane comes from Brazil. We hope that in a few years, this material will come from European beet sugar.

    This approach, which pushes us towards constant improvement, is an essential point to offer you products that are always more responsible.


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