Fairtrade shoes in Lausanne

I have definitely got fed up with my old tennis shoes.

In fact, I never actually liked them at all. I found them in Borsec in 2004. They were the only pair in the only shop and were supposed to be original Pumas though they only costed about 6€. They were also designed for larger and longer feet than mine. I wear 42 (UK 9) and they reach the incredible length of 46 (UK 11). A mere detail.

One might think I’m not that fussy when it comes to buying shoes… As a matter of fact, I am.

When I got those in Romania, it was either that or happily strolling down in mud with flat shoes. I had no other choice, and blaming myself for always forgetting to pack important stuff -such as walking shoes- when I travel wouldn’t help.

Procrastinating, as often, behind my laptop in Lausanne, I decided I would get a new pair of sneakers before I went home. That’s when I thought of the poor slave kids in Asia and decided I wouldn’t go for international brands. I was done with procrastinating, I had a challenge: find fair trade sport shoes in Lausanne for a decent price.

In fact, that was too much of a challenge. The start wasn’t bad: the web first revealed that they are a few makes of ethical shoes but that the trend is really recent. But I had to shift the threshold of what I consider a reasonable price, upwards, needless to say.

After a very active 2-hours surfing I now know all this on the topic:

Nosweat is an alter-globalization activist American brand. The shoes look great, very Converse-like, but will definitely not be acquired by Nike that soon. It looks like they’ve been victims of their success, my size is out of stock, I’m not going for a 46 again, and anyway you can’t find them in Lausanne, not even in Switzerland.

New Balance don’t surf on the bio/fairtrade wave but are nevertheless manufactured by adults in the US and the UK. You can even find them in Lausanne, but the price is a little over my budget. Nothing to do with urban sport shoes though, these are real sports shoes I could really do with (as my actual goal is to avoid blisters when I go jogging).

Veja is a Franco-Brazilian make. Really 100% green and Fair Trade, they are probably going to be my new jogging parters before long. A little expensive though… And I hate the luxury shop which is their only retailer in Lausanne… And there are no high-top models in the current collection… Not to mention the price… We’ll see.

Eventually the Ethletic sneakers and the Canadian Adbuster’s vegan Blackspot Sneakers also seemed quite cool, but there’s obviously definitely no way of getting them in Lausanne without paying an extra 50% of the price on shipping fees…

So… I’m not quite happy with what I have found so far on the web… I shall have to go and see for myself in the local shops…

I never imagined that finding sport shoes that don’t imply ill-treating of the kids and of the planet could be that tedious… The conclusion is so alarming that I’d rather not write it down. Let’s see the bright side: there is an offer! It is just beginning, but it exists: if you really want sport shoes you can be proud of, you can. And this simple fact is great! Even though it’s a little more true if you live in London or Paris than if you live in Lausanne.

Updating soon, hopefully…

Oct. 19 2007 update:

I’ve tried 4 shoe shops in town today, none of these brands is available! And “Bon Génie”, which supposedly sold “Veja” in Lausanne, has only got the line for women.I did find the New Balance in one of the shops, and they are really cool. But the first price starts at 190 CHF, and I’ve eventually found out that they are not quite as perfect as I would have liked them to be, for that price, since they are criticized by Oxfam for their lack of transparency in labour policies and for not publishing factory and supplier addresses online. (Source: The Green Guide). Isn’t it appalling that you can’t find sport shoes made in decent human conditions in one of the wealthiest places in the world?

Feb. 17 2008 update:

Eventually found them! Though not in Lausanne… Read more…

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