UBAC: a French eco-friendly sneaker brand
Ubac is a French company, which, like more and more brands, manufactures products (whether clothing or shoes) by caring about their quality, but also about the origin of materials, the conditions of production in the workshops, and more generally the environmental and social impact so that you can shop without destroying the planet. But, why do we call our pieces sustainable, and how do we prove it?
The challenges of a French brand
Being a French brand implies different points that one would not necessarily think of, but which are nevertheless part of the social and environmental responsibility of a company in France.
First of all, having a company in France means paying taxes in France and having a French head office. It is often forgotten, but it is one of the first proofs of good faith and transparency that can exist. This also has an impact on the price of the items, as you can see in our price breakdown of our brand, the VAT represents 20% in the French system. To be a textile company in France, it is to practice fair prices for everyone, from the worker (French, Spanish or Portuguese) participating in the manufacture to the customer.
Many fast fashion brands relocate their headquarters from France to tax havens in order to lower their prices and encourage over-consumption, among other questionable practices.
For Ubac, being a French brand located in France also means working with local workshops (French, Portuguese and Spanish). The goal is to create goods as close as possible to the consumers, so that each collection is not part of the ranking of the most polluting products in the world.
Moreover, this allows us to regularly visit the workshops (whether they are French or not), to meet each man and each woman who works for our production, in each factory, to ensure their well-being. We will always prefer a human-sized company located in France or in Europe, since the goal is to be as close as possible to the workshop that makes our shoes and clothes.
For example, the production of our sweaters and hats is ultra-local: we work with the Jean Ruiz workshop, a French company on a human scale that is located 1600 meters from our offices in Roanne (Made in France) and, of course, with French recycled wool.
Concerning our other accessories like our socks, we manufacture them in Limoges (made in France). Obviously, our wool is always French because it is recycled, spun and woven in the Tarn (made in France). For our sneakers, we had to make a compromise between proximity and quality: the manufacturing is made in Portugal, one of the best countries in the world for shoes.
We would like to be able to offer a Made In France sneaker, but the relocations in recent history do not allow us the possibility of modification and evolution of our sneakers in a French factory. The trademark of France is especially the leather.
At Ubac, our articles are made of materials that are more difficult to work with, which is why we have chosen to make them in Portugal. One of the other challenges for an eco French brand is to find good factories within a reasonable distance to offer products that are less impactful, but also more resistant, and therefore more durable. Ubac choose to be made in Europe.
Why do we create eco-designed products?
Before knowing the reason for the eco-design of our products, let's start by explaining what we mean by this term and how Ubac applies it. You can find these ideas in more detail in our article "Our 5 commandments to create a responsible sneaker".
The first point is to create French products with few different materials. This way, it is easier to trace the origin of each component for our brand. Our sneakers generally have between four and six components, which is very little for a shoe. Our project is to recycle our parts via a made in France system eventually, which is made easier when we have a minimal brand production.
As explained above, we also choose the least impacting elements possible. At the origin of these choices, there is a huge sourcing work done in our French offices. For example, we chose recycled cotton because it is made in Spain, shortening the journey to Portugal, where Koto sneakers are made.
In addition to the choice of quality producers, the community of Ubac customers also helps us in the design of each product. Thanks to development questionnaires, everyone can communicate their needs and feedback. This way, we know what you are looking for when shopping and all the clothes, sneakers, socks and other accessories are designed to meet your expectations. We can also know which colors to offer for women and men to avoid overproduction.
But then, why eco-design? For a brand, it allows to register as a sustainable house. Producing in France or in Europe, with natural and recycled materials, while being careful to select each manufacturing workshop, makes fashion more virtuous, all at a fair price for everyone. Moreover, it is also a way to revalorize the history of French fashion textiles and its know-how before it disappears. Working with a French or Portuguese company has a price, but these euros are well invested because they allow to value the made in France, the made in Portugal or the made in Spain, in short: the made in Europe is on the money !
For the woman or man who wears the brand, it is the promise of products designed in France, with the trademarks of resistant, comfortable, durable and less impacting clothes for the world. In short, it's a shopping experience that we will be proud to wear, with pieces that will remain for a long time in the classification of favorite clothes.
Eco-design is, as we said above, paying attention to the materials that the brand uses. But why choose natural materials?
Ubac interested in natural materials
The origin of our components is also a major issue: wool and cotton are good examples, they often come from the other side of the world (Australia for wool, Asia for cotton) and bear the marks of their carbon footprint. Can a product really qualify as eco-designed if the raw materials come from the other side of the planet?
It is not enough to turn to a European production to do better, because a large part of the environmental impact of clothing and accessories comes from the material used and the way it was grown. Creating recycled fashion pieces allows us to use materials already present in France and Europe, which are considered as waste, while once revalorized, they create superior quality items.
Let's take the example of our recycled socks: our collection comes from clothes collected in France and in Europe. These old products are then sorted by color, defibered and recycled in the Tarn region to become spools of yarn. We then send them to Limoges to create new socks, which allows us to greatly limit our impact: we avoid shearing new sheep, loading new containers ...
The icing on the cake: these fibers have already lived and passed the test of time. All the components that are too short, too weak, or the excess of dye have already been eliminated during the previous uses. So you end up with a fiber of the best possible quality!
Natural materials have incredibly virtuous properties for clothing or sneakers, which is why they are often favored by responsible brands. French recycled wool and hemp are known for their purifying, insulating and thermo-regulating properties. These two materials, like recycled cotton, are very comfortable and provide unequalled resistance.
Ubac, our commitment to transparency
Being part of the sustainable French brands implies a price, but also a commitment to transparency from the manufacturing to the marketing of the product, whether it is for women or men. You can learn more in our article "Transparency at Ubac". Transparent brands are not irreproachable, but they at least show their efforts, their limits and their will to progress.
Les ateliers et certifications
As mentioned above, we take great care in our manufacturing. That's why we visit each workshop regularly and stay in touch with each company to ensure the quality of our fashion items (whether they are made in France or Portugal). This also allows us to guarantee that the textiles we use are GRS-labeled for example. Beyond the control of our quality, we can also ensure the working conditions and the wages of the workers to the nearest euro.
On ubac-store.com, we try to give you as much information as possible, because we believe that this is what responsible brands are all about. This ranges from the exact composition of the fashion products, through the map of our suppliers or the distribution of our prices to the nearest euro, but also with more comprehensive information. Via our blog, we answer the most frequently asked questions in a comprehensive way: why we don't make only Made In France, what is the history of such and such a material... The goal is to reveal everything.