If, like me, you’ve entered the nether regions of the year sans appropriate footwear, and you’re sick of trawling the high street for look- alike boots and shoes that will go out of fashion before you’ve even worn them in, then despair not – I have comforting news. I can tell you where to get individual and affordable shoes, and guess what? They’re all from the same place!
Terra Plana is the logical answer to an omnipresent question: how to be simultaneously stylish, individual and ethical all in one go? Their website is stuffed full of brilliant footwear, from boots to shoes and men’s to women’s, bright and colourful to demure and conservative. Their production philosophy is simple – give back to Mother Nature what you take away, and try not to take away very much in the first place!
Their contribution back to the environment is matched by their attitude to our feet. While they admit that in an ideal world we would all be running around shoe-less, the guys at Terra Plana have understood that in order to avoid regular tetanus and discomfort, shoes are really a must. With this in mind they have applied a host of funky features to bring us as close to the no-shoe experience as possible, while still technically being fully clothed. Among their most inspired ideas is the use of memory foam – the stuff they make the best mattresses and the inside of space suits with – to cushion and proportion weight effectively. Bed for my feet? Amazing! Then there’s the Vivo Barefoot design, which employs a durable and thin fabric that allows all the freedom of a bare foot with none of the previously mentioned tetanus. Brilliant!
All this and the products actually look great! Top of my list is the Romero bag, made of recycled seat belts (a safe buy, then) and just the thing for a shopping trip or long-haul train journey. Then there’s the Juniper shoe – a delightful little court number with a high wooden heel and a charming round toe that would look brilliant with skinny jeans or a full, feminine skirt. And then the boots, which are so much more to look at than anything I’ve seen in stores. Lauren, with its chic heel and muted palette is a sure-fire hit from autumn to spring and comes in a variety of prints and leathers.
There are loads for the boys too. The Bike shoe – made partially from recycled bike tyres – is a wonderful alternative to the over-exposed high street designs, and Derida looks as though it would be the sort of shoe he would never need to take off. My trainer-obsessed male friends went a bit dewy eyed when they laid eyes on the Nova Ski high-top trainer, which could have come straight out of 1980s America, and even my perennially casual boyfriend had to admit that he loved the Saturn veg tanned leather boot. Neither too bulky, nor too feminine, it is the perfect accompaniment to a pair of skinnies.
All of these little gems sit happily alongside a range of woolly boots, sensible flats, outlandish heels and fabulous fabrics. What the modern ethical shopper can’t find at Terra Plana isn’t worth having.
A quick word, then, about my absolute favourite thing, not just from Terra Plana, but possibly this entire year. Po-Zu. Not only fun to say in your head (or out-loud when among friends) this coconut cream cleans your shoes. Then when you’ve finished cleaning your shoes you can pop a bit on your hair in place of a conditioner. While this is soaking in, why not dip in a finger and have yourself a wee snack? That’s right – it’s a shoe cream AND a tasty morsel. At only £5 it’s cheaper than a store-bought sandwich. Happy lunchtimes here we come! Perhaps strange looks in the street here we come as well.
Far from being of the Bono school of preachy self-awareness, Terra Plana go about their business quietly, making lovely footwear as responsibly as they can. They are affordable and ethical, stylish and individual and may well be finding themselves under several of my good friends’ Christmas trees.
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