PEKO coop – walking into 2018 in sustainable shoes!
Nowadays we talk a lot about sustainable fashion, environmental responsibility, organic cotton and supporting your local community. We complain about low quality garments, the word trend is almost a dirty word and the touch of polyester on our skin gives us goosebumbs. Well, luckily some brands and fashion designers share the same sentiment.
One of those is Peko cooperative. Slovenian brand with a vision for a better and healthier future. Responsibility, forward thinking and a call for positive change in the shoe industry is notable in their every step.
They advocate fair workers pay, use of healthy and non-toxic materials, high quality of their product and transparency in bussines management. All this got me excited, so I had a chat with Andreja Repše, acting president of Peko coop about their work and vision.
You are claiming that your shoes are “healthy”. What does that mean?
Our shoes are made from vegetable tanned leather. Natural vegetable dyes are non-toxic and without heavy metals. That’s why our shoes are a great fit for people with certain kind of alergies. We are also planning to manufacture shoes from natural vegan leather.
Felt which we use, is made from 100% pure merino wool. Felt is biodegradable and renewable material, it’s moisture resistant, self-extinguishing and known for its thermal insulation properties. Lanolin, the thin waxy coating on wool fibers, makes wool naturally water and soil resistant.
Shoe soles are made from leather, natural rubber and Slovenian wood. Even the shoe laces are made from organic cotton.
Where do you purchase your raw-material which is used in your shoe production?
Italians are known for their high quality leather, so that is exactlly where we went. Tuscany is famous for having a long and local tradition. The production is highly regulated a lot of waist is recycled, they use vegetable based dyes therefore less impact on the environment and no toxins in our bodies. Over time, vegetable tanned leather becomes more beautiful, developing character and patina.
Wool felt is one of the oldest man-made textiles. Felt wich we use is made from 100% pure merino wool and it is made in Germany.
Shoe laces are also made in Italy from organic cotton.
Our goal is to grow our business in a way that we will be able to purchase all raw-materials from Slovenia and make our shoes locally made.
You already sell on-line, but I hear you are developing something new for us?
Yes, we are trying to offer our customers a unique online shopping experience and satisfy every individual. That is why we are in the process of making an on-line designer configurator. So every customer will be able to design their own shoes. From choosing your own colour pallete to adding some accessories.
What is the difference between the “old” and “new” Peko?
Old Peko is gone, it went bancrupt in January 2016. Peko coop is building a new tradition based on it’s cultural heritage with a strong vision to the future. We produce new, sustainable, comfortable, healthy and beautiful shoes.
You decided for a coop model?
Yes, cooperative is “an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.” Cooperative is relatively a rear business model in Slovenia. For us is important to make a movement which has been fueled globally by ideas of economic democracy and expansion of decision-making power from a small minority of corporate shareholders to a larger majority of public stakeholders. Our members have a close association with the enterprise as producers or consumers.
Why should one become a Peko corporate shareholder?
Our members have quite a lot of advantages. At the moment they have the right for a disscout on our current shoe collection and the most exciting thing is that their share in our coop gets larger with every purchase. It doesn’t stop here, they can pich their business or design ideas. We also share earnings which are divided among the members according to their participation in the enterprise.
What is your goal fort he future?
Our goal is to create an awarness about sustainability and realization that what we wear matters.
Today almost every item in the fashion industry is made from undegradeable, synthetic or even worse toxic material, especially in the shoe industry. Dyed with unhealthy dyes and with no afterthought about the waiste and the imact it has on our environment. Every responsible manufacturer and then consumer should think about this.
How much waste one produces with buying cheap shoes wich last only one season, or not even that.
How do they look after one season and how you feel in them?
How does it feel to take them off in the evening and then back on in the morning?
And what kind of working conditions are you supporting by buying from sweatshops?
Well I am not much for New Year’s resolutions but I am all for trying to make our lives better in one way or another. And beeing mindfull about what I buy and what I am supporting with that decision is important to me. Especially because there is much room for improvement.