LONDON — Sustainable sneaker label Good News has joined forces with H&M on a capsule collection of unisex sneakers.
For founders Nia Jones and Ben Tattersall, the tie-in was an opportunity to have their sustainability mission heard on a bigger, more mainstream platform and to experiment with materials that required a level of investment that’s difficult to make as a small brand.
The sneakers, which have a retro flair and feature upbeat stripes and colors, were made using grape leather, fibers derived from banana plants and biodegradable soles.
“We were always familiar with grape leather, but we could never meet the minimums as a small company, so this is where it was amazing to have H&M’s power behind us,” Jones said.
Despite these efforts, there remains a lot of scrutiny around fast-fashion giants and their sustainability claims — which some often dismiss as greenwashing.
For the Good News duo, however, the retailer’s willingness to make changes and its levels of transparency — the Swedish company topped the 2020 transparency ranking by campaign group Fashion Revolution — made the tie-in a step in the right direction.
“Any time you put out a collaboration with a big corporation, there’s a lot of backlash. We really scrutinized this collaboration and want to have an open conversation about our findings, to educate people,” Jones said. “We’ve followed a lot of the high street and whenever we’ve been asked to do collaborations with one of these giants, we’ve always scrutinized everything. With H&M, we’ve done our due diligence and felt like they’re a company who are constantly making themselves better. A black and white attitude will not solve the problem, and we want to be part of the solution, we want to create these conversations even if they can be controversial.”
Tattersall added that amplifying a smaller voice on big platforms like that of H&M is the way forward for sustainable change to take place and these New Age, eco-friendly materials to start being used on larger scales.
“Their resources, contacts and production capabilities are just unbelievable and we could now harness all that. We just pushed them on everything, we looked at how we can improve each component and they really respected that,” he added, pointing to the additional opportunity to use H&M’s mass reach to also remove the stigma of “sustainability being hippy.”
Prices for the sneakers range from 40 to 80 pounds.
When it comes to its main line, the label has amassed a network of top stockists, including the likes of Browns, Selfridges and Galeries Lafayettes. Despite challenging market conditions in 2020, both the wholesale business and the label’s own e-commerce continue to grow.
“Last year was our biggest year yet in terms of year-on-year growth and this year we’re on a trajectory to surpass that as well,” said Tattersall, adding that the plan is to start putting more focus on e-commerce and continue investing in sustainable development, primarily achieving carbon neutrality and being able to offer fully biodegradable soles.
“The world cannot sustain the fashion industry as it is, materials have to be self-sustainable, It has to move this way — there’s no alternative, this will become everyone’s norm.”