Are these shoes really sustainable? Shoe designer Simone Gronchi gets this reaction again and again because his N.O.R.A. Collection of Italian shoe design par excellence signals that nobody can imagine that it was made almost entirely with organic materials under fair conditions. Made in Tuscany and 100 percent recyclable.
We met the shoe expert from Italy (digitally) and talked to him about his collection and his goals.
GREENSTYLE: What is the idea for N.O.R.A. developed?
Simone Gronchi: As part of the team, we had often exchanged ideas about sustainability in the shoe industry and then it was Petra, our Business Development Manager, who got into the topic in more detail. After a market investigation, it became clear to us that really sustainable shoes cannot be found in the conventional shoe market, but that there are some good approaches from manufacturers. In the end, it was important for us to offer a product that meets the highest standards, both in terms of sustainability and quality and style. So we were looking for suitable partners here on site to implement sustainable production with selected components so that we can offer a shoe that can ultimately be recycled without harming the environment. With N.O.R.A. we wanted to create a basis to prove to our customers that it works and how it works.
In the end, it was important for us to offer a product that meets the highest standards, both in terms of sustainability and quality and style.
GREENSTYLE: Which feedback excited you the most, which irritated you the most?
Simone Gronchi: I was most enthusiastic about the reaction of people who see our shoes. Anyone who sees the collection reacts very positively and surprised. Many do not expect that a sustainable shoe collection can also be fashionable. It irritates me when we have discussions about the sustainability of leather. The leather we use comes from the meat industry. A waste product that is treated and dyed organically and sustainably and, when recycled, does not harm the environment. Some vegan products that are not made with sustainable polyurethanes are much more harmful to the environment.
GREENSTYLE: Why are you looking for partners on the German market?
Simone Gronchi: We are established as a design studio in the international shoe business and so far we are not known in the sustainable fashion market. As a team player, we would like to get involved in the network and bring forward the issue that sustainable fashion can be absolutely fashionable. Making shoes is very complex and we can learn from the clothing standards that have been achieved so far and support each other.
GREENSTYLE: What are the next steps?
Simone Gronchi: Our business should develop sustainably. With our brand N.O.R.A. a start-up and as a design studio an “open source” for potential partners who want to develop a sustainable shoe collection with us. In the long term, we are considering our N.O.R.A. also to sell directly to end customers. But everything step by step.
We are “open source” for potential partners who want to develop a sustainable shoe line together with us.
GREENSTYLE: What do you want for sustainable design?
Simone Gronchi: I would like further scientific research and innovations to be developed in the area of sustainability. So that, together with the manufacturers of the components and the production facilities, we reach an even higher level. Because from my point of view, sustainably produced shoes should be the standard in the future.
Thank you very much, Simone for talking to us. We very much hope that you can find like-minded partners for your project. In any case, you’ve already won us over as fans.