Fast fashion is not sustainable. Mass retailers contribute to our collective destruction by encouraging consumption and paying very little mind to the economic, environmental or social impact that the business of making things quickly and cheaply plays.
Our belief is that a premium needs to be placed on defending fair wages, working conditions and workers’ rights. At Fortress of Inca we produce our shoes, boots and accessories in Peru at small factories and workshops that we audit to ensure that these criteria are met.
Additionally, there is a need to emphasize the ingredients that we create our products from. Similar to the difference between organic foods and foods filled with hormones and pesticides we feel that there is a qualitative difference in the types of components that are used for manufacturing shoes and boots. Eco friendly materials such as leather, wood and rubber are preferable to plastics, glue and paints. Natural materials are naturally better for the environment and minimizing man-made materials in the design and production process helps ensure ecological sustainability.
Anecdotally, we recently reexamined all of the components that we were using to manufacture the Fortress of Inca shoeboxes and decided to simplify the design and eliminate a high percentage of paint and glue. We took the same approach with a popular shoe style called the Adriana Coco and eliminated paint for a natural wood finish on the shoe’s heel. These choices were difficult to come to. Many of the natural components we opted for show flaws and a lack uniformity that goes against any brand’s instinct. However, we felt that our customers would appreciate a wooden heel that they could identify as wood and not plastic and we removed the paint so that it could be more clearly conveyed as part of the design.
Currently, we are looking at other ways we can reduce our environmental impact without sacrificing quality or the attractiveness of our products. We believe that there is a growing trend towards awareness of product components by the consumer and that this trend, much like the organic food trend, will gain traction on fashion runways as consumers demand that brands focus on process and not just on finished product.