Ethletic Sneakers

“Buy less!” Or why we don’t want you to buy MORE shoes

We attend trade fairs. We present our new styles. We post them on Instagram and we promote them on Facebook, where now we’re supposed to pay increasingly more for each “Like”. We actively recruit new “Followers”, new customers. We’d love to have more hits on our shop site so we can see that we’re on the right track with the Ethletic project and share this success and good news with our cohorts in our manufacturing countries. But at what price? Doesn’t this simply make us a part of the system we’re actually trying to change?

Organic cotton picker working a field in India: “More” consumption can’t be the goal.
Text: Annika Langhagel

“Buy less.” Every time Vivienne Westwood repeats this slogan, people start talking. A fashion designer calling on us to consume less – isn’t that a touch hypocritical?

Just like companies that claim to be “sustainable” advocates of the environment while enticing us to buy more stuff via new product models, colors, ads, campaigns…just like Ethletic? Armedangels? Bleed? Veja? Dozens of others?

We constantly ask ourselves these same questions, particularly at times like right now when we’re launching the new collection we’ve put so much energy into and hoping so much that you like it. That you love it. And yes, we also hope that it sells!

A dilemma? Maybe an irreconcilable one?

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"Buy less" -Vivienne.

A post shared by Vivienne Westwood (@viviennewestwood) on

Not necessarily, as long as we stay focused on the most important thing:

Namely, that we don’t destroy our planet through senseless, uninhibited consumption.

That’s why it’s so important to us to clearly communicate that we don’t want you to buy MORE shoes. But WHEN you buy shoes, then buy the right ones: Shoes made from sustainable resources in the most environmentally-friendly way possible, giving the needs of human beings, the animal world and nature itself the consideration they deserve.

So we’re very pleased indeed that our shoes are also available now from Otto. This creates an opportunity for people who are normally less concerned about things like sustainability to stumble across Ethletic and find products they like. We hope this will persuade them to choose our “green” alternative to Nike and similar major players.

Is it better to buy Ethletic sneakers instead of a conventional brand name product? Our answer to that question is a resounding “Yes!”. Is it even better not to buy any new shoes at all? Again, “Yes!”.


Ethletic auf
So what’s the ethical alternative? We believe it’s to place our products where they can make a difference.

We all have to rethink each of our purchasing choices: Do I genuinely “need” this shirt, or these sneakers? Would I be replacing a worn-out shirt, worn-out sneakers, that are beyond repair? Or am I really just filling a hole in my own life that a brief shopping high can only fill for a short time, if at all?

It’s not easy to ask ourselves these questions.

Most of us grew up in a society where putting off the fulfillment of material needs is not really part of the plan. Our economic system is largely based on us also consuming without thinking about it too much. It anticipates us buying things we don’t need, or soon don’t even want anymore because we find out we don’t “love” them as much as we thought, or as much as the ads made us think we would.

So let’s practice trying to regain a greater appreciation of the products we own, including the resources used to make them, the work hours that go into them and also the distance they’ve travelled to belong to us.

If we take all of this to heart, then it’s possible to shop with a clear conscience. And when you do, we hope it’s from our Shop. : )

Thank you all for your awareness and your support.

And now, enjoy our new shoe models!

Your Ethletic Team


Further reading: Info on the Patagonia campaign “Don’t buy this jacket” back in 2011.

Photo cotton field: Kathrin Harms
Translation: John Jeffrey Collier