Shoes you feel good in: when social innovation meets “upcycling”

upcycle (ˈʌpsʌɪk(ə)l/) verb; gerund or present participle: upcycling : reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original. Origin: 1990s: blend of up- and recycle.

Juta Shoes is a Shoreditch-based social enterprise taking the concept of “upcycling” fashion up a level. Juta Shoes was founded in 2016 by Johanna and Sabeha to support socially isolated and unemployed women at St Hilda’s East Community Centre, London. Sabeha has worked at St Hilda’s for 12 years, leading women’s community projects and working to reduce social barriers for marginalised women, while Johanna met her at the centre while she was at her frontline placement with Year Here, a charity whose mission is to assist some of the most vulnerable in society. In Tower Hamlets, where they are based, over a quarter of the residents are income deprived and women are even more likely to be unemployed. With a mission of fighting financial and social isolation by providing well-paid, flexible employment opportunities for women, Juta Shoes produces beautifully handcrafted espadrilles made from waste leather offcuts. The uppers are made from waste leather offcuts, sourced from local factories and saved from landfill or vegan materials. These are upcycled and handstitched onto soles made from jute – an eco-friendly, plant-based fibre grown in tropical Asia and imported from family-owned factories in Spain.

Are you thinking about a new pair of summer shoes? Or would you be interested in learning how to make your own pair of eco-espadrilles? If the answer is yes, then check it out: