Recycled Saree Sandals by Mohop Shoes

Recycled saree fabrics bring new meaning to a well-heeled existence.

Following on the heels of Louise Lagosi’s in-depth investigation into the destiny of cast-off clothing, it seems fitting that a query into summer sandals of the endlessly chic variety would be essential fashion beach reading.

I never know how to identify the perfectly stylish sandal that will last beyond one season. Given the wear and tear that I put my trusty shoes through, a durable heel with some amazing flirty detailing seems like the impossible find. Enter Mohop Shoes and their new ready-to-wear Saree Collection. Crafted out of recycled saree fabrics from a bold non-profit enterprise in India as well as sustainably farmed Pará rubber tree wood, these interchangeable lace-ups are all about empowerment for the user and everyone along the way.

Designer Annie Mohaupt takes on sustainable fashion in fearless style

Sandals are an age-old fashion staple, and now that the gladiator sandal is old news, it’s time slip on some heels that really take you places, both on foot and in mission. Annie Mohaupt of Mohop Shoes has considered every last detail when it comes to her goal of creating the most eco-friendly shoe available. This architect turned shoe designer has had her toes in the soil from the very beginning, as her upbringing on a small sheep farm one hundred miles west of Chicago primed her for life as a some one attuned to the resourceful use of materials as well as the life cycle of her designs.

Mohop Shoe’s high wedge sandals with recycled saree fabric

When I asked Annie what makes her shoes such knockouts, besides their chic design appeal and the cool versatility of the interchangeable saree ties that easily lace up through elastic loops, she had this to say about each of Mohop’s Saree Collection components:

Recycled Saree Textiles

“The Saree Collection is pretty exciting due to our new collaboration with Jhoole, a non-profit social enterprise in India. Each saree sandal tie is made from re-used sarees, which are brought to life again as colorful, scarf-like ties for our sandals. Indian women receive fair-trade wages for this textile production work, enabling them to support their families and educate their children. Mohop also donates 100 percent of the price for the saree ties towards the construction, maintenance, and training required at the computer lab for girls and women at Jhoole’s new facility in Maheshwar, India.”

Pará Rubber Tree Wood

“Our sandals are composed of wood from Pará rubber trees. Our trees spend the years prior to their pre-footwear life cleaning the atmosphere of CO2. Pará trees are grown on plantations in tropical regions. The trees are tapped just like maple trees for their latex, which is used for rubber production. After twenty-five years or so, the trees can no longer produce latex, so the wood is reused for a secondary purpose: shoes.

Pará rubber tree plantations are an income-generating crop for families in tropical regions, discouraging locals from clear-cutting forestland for livestock or other less-sustainable crops. Rubber wood plantations mimic indigenous tropical forests and provide a natural habitat for plants and animals, some of which are severely threatened or endangered.

The rubber wood undergoes very minimal processing to be carved into footwear, and all scraps and even sawdust is re-used. Our shoe wood is colored with water-based dyes and will eventually decompose naturally (after its life as well-loved shoes). Additionally, most of our other footwear materials and packaging contains recycled content.”  –  Annie Mohaupt

The complex and textured story behind sustainable design is an increasingly important part of the environmentally friendly and conscious fashion equation. In order to reach beyond a checklist of materials and mission guidelines, it seems essential that designers also engage their followers in the process of what it takes to get dressed or accessorized.

Mohop Shoes takes this one step further by making sustainable fashion interactive and even playful in an effort to bring us back to the source of what “well heeled” really means. A display of true wealth comes from both stylish decision-making and ethical fashion awareness. It’s all tied up, no matter how you choose to look at it.

Images: courtesy of Mohop; designer portrait via Archinect