Hangers are ‘fashion industry’s plastic straw’, says designer

A recyclable clothes hanger has been developed by a fashion designer in an attempt to end the use of plastic ones.

Roland Mouret says plastic hangers are the “plastic straw” of the fashion industry and has developed what he says is the world’s only sustainable brand.

They are made out of 80% recycled plastic recovered from the sea and 20% recyclable plastic, and they also feature aluminium hooks.

Current plastic hangers are hard to recycle because of how they are made.

They can include a combination of up to seven different plastics as well as metal, and many hangers end up in landfill where they can take up to 1,000 years to break down, according to hanger recycling company First Mile.

Mr Mouret offered 300 of his new hangers for free to most designers at last month’s London Fashion Week. However, only about 20% accepted them.

Coat hangers
Image captionThe new hangers are slate grey, which shows they have not been tampered with by chemicals during the production process

Mr Mouret, who created the hangers in collaboration with the firm Arch and Hook, told BBC Breakfast: “A beautiful garment has to be hanged on a hanger and has to be carried by van to the store.

“In that travel, we use single use plastic hangers that we throw away straight away after, and they’re all polystyrene and polystyrene is not recyclable.”

Mr Mouret says his hanger is “fully sustainable”.

“I think it’s stronger than a normal hanger, but at the moment, if you break it, it’s completely recyclable.

“You can have something that becomes so circular that nothing goes back to the sea.”

There has been growing concern about the environmental cost of continuing to use plastic hangers.

Over the summer, Labour MP Angela Smith said shops should be banned from giving them out, while John Lewis is inviting its customers to bring in old hangers for reuse or for in-store recycling at its store in Oxford.

And an Aberdeen shopping centre has created a scheme where customers can leave plastic hangers in a designated area in its car park entrance for others to reuse.

Mr Mouret also blamed the desire for fast fashion for environmental problems.

“One of the trends of the 90s was the must-have [item of clothing], and the must-have was treated as an addiction,” he said.

“Every time if you don’t buy it, you’re going to be unhappy and if you buy it, you can throw it away.

“We thought it would carry on, it fell apart. It’s falling apart now and that’s why we have to make a change.”


Your shoes are made of plastic. Here’s why.

The shoe that changed everything, according to designer D’Wayne Edwards, was the Nike Air Max 1.

It was like nothing the young Edwards had ever seen. The designer, Nike’s Tinker Hatfield, had been an architect before he became a shoe designer, and he modeled his 1987 Air Max 1 after a famous building: Paris’s Pompidou Center, which wore its piping and structure on the outside of the building, rather than hidden inside.

Hatfield used the same principles for the shoe to highlight a new, special technology: a puffy inflatable bladder filled with air that sat under the wearer’s heel. In the never-ending quest to build the best, lightest, strongest shoe for the athletes who were pushing the limits of human performance, the bladder was Nike’s way to soften the pressure of a hard landing on a basketball court, and was also a way to save weight, because what could be lighter than air?

“As a design, it was so new and cool,” says Edwards. And, he says, it symbolized something meaningful in the history of shoe design: “This could only happen,” he says, “because of plastic.”

Worldwide, more than 24 billion pairs of shoes were made in 2018, with over two billion pairs sold in the U.S. alone. That’s more than seven pairs per person each year filling up American’s closets, piling up near doorways, and eventually making their way to the trash.

Many components of modern shoes are made of plastic materials, from the soles to the uppers to the eyelets.


Most of those shoes are partly, or in many cases completely, fabricated from plastic and plastic-like materials, from the squishy soles to the pointy heels to the knit polyester uppers to the brittle eyelet holes. Because of their construction—usually, their many components are stitched and glued and molded together in complicated ways—they’re almost impossible to recycle. So your feet are only a short stopover in their long, long lifetimes, before they pile up in landfills and float down waterways, often living on like zombies for hundreds of years.

The first stirrings of a shoe revolution are fomenting, though, and the industry is starting to look hard at the ways it can build a better, more sustainable mousetrap for your feet. But to understand how big of a challenge that is, we have to understand how we ended up in a world where most shoes are a soft, squishy mess of plastics.

Shoes for leisure, shoes for sports

Until the middle of the 1800s, shoes were made from materials found in the natural world. Wood for heels. Tanned leathers for uppers and straps. Soles were rubber, or cork, or sometimes hunks of wood carved to cradle a foot. But shifting culture and materials science were coming for shoes, as they came for everything else.

In the late 1800s, factory labor emerged as a dominant work type in Europe and the U.S. Once a year, usually in the summer, the factories had to close down for repairs, releasing a flood of workers out into the world, many of whom flocked to the seaside. This was the first glimpse of modern “vacations,” a new kind of leisure time that required a new suite of accessories. Instead of work boots, vacationers wanted light shoes that could withstand the damp of the beach.

Around the same time, sports and leisure culture was developing. Croquet players in England wanted sticky soles to keep them steady as they aimed at their wickets. Lawn tennis players needed shoes that wouldn’t slip on close-shorn turf.

The solution? Rubber. A new chemical process that kept rubber stable at warm temperatures, called “vulcanization,” was invented in the middle of the 1800s. That stable rubber material quickly made its way into tires, as seals on steam engines—and onto the soles of shoes for the athletes and vacationers of the time.



Around 40,000 years ago, human started using footwear, archeological evidence has found. The oldest pair in the world are around 9,000 years old and were found in California. In 1832 the first pair with rubber soles was patented, and by 1870 canvas and rubber shoes started to be called sneaks, or sneakers.



Plastic is used to make laces, heel, and linings.

Fort Rock sandal

9,000 years old

Made of shredded sagebrush bark.


Rubber or plastic





Did You Know?

In 2018 in North America, each person bought an average 5.6 pairs. In Africa it was 1.7 pairs.

Sneakers can be ground up into crumb to create play surfaces and tracks.

Almost half of the footwear exported in the world is made of rubber or plastic.





“The most significant development in shoe technology in the last century was vulcanized rubber,” said Nicholas Smith, the author of a Kicks, a book about the cultural history of sneakers.

The original vulcanized rubber wasn’t what we now think of as plastic. But by the middle of the 20th century, “natural” rubber products had been replaced nearly wholesale by synthetic rubbers—a close relative of the materials we know as plastics. Today, about 70 percent of all rubber used in manufacturing is synthetic, according to the American Chemical Society.

(Read about the history of rubber and why we can’t live without it).

With the rise of rubber and leisure time—and along with it, sports like running and basketball—came a cry from athletes and shoe designers for more cushioning, more springiness, more support, less stretch. By the first few decades of the 1900s, the market for athletic shoes exploded and designs multiplied.

Shoes for fantasies and fashion

“Fashion is a thing that often drives innovation. It’s a product of desire and design,” says Elizabeth Semmelhack, the curator of the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto. “The capabilities of this new material to augment design pushed fashion forward, and vice versa.”

As hemlines rose in the early 20th century, shoes—which had often been hidden under long skirts—became a part of the visual language of women’s fashion. In the 1920s, Jazz Age tastes for embellishment and sparkle were answered by plastics, from t-straps covered with fake crystals (themselves often made of plastic) to ultra-shiny celluloid finishes on evening shoes.

Simultaneously, women started entering the American workforce en masse, a movement that only grew during war times and beyond.

“These were really interesting cultural moments, when women were starting to make their own money and buy more clothes and to become more trend aware,” says Marie Brennan, a design historian at Norwich University and shoemaker. The variety and sheer number of shoes being bought for fashion, rather than purely practical purposes, grew.

Plastics were making it easier and cheaper to fill that new market.

By World War II, high heels had taken on strong symbolic power, says Semmelhack. U.S. soldiers serving abroad latched on to heels as a sign of idealized femininity, hanging posters of pin-up girls in sky-high heels and painting stilettoed women on the sides of their fighter planes. At home, most heeled shoes tended to be platforms or wedges made with natural bases. But those styles were not popular with the soldiers.

“When the war was over, the platforms and wedges got thrown out, and that era of wartime fashion ended for women,” says Semmelhack. “Fashion sought to align women with the erotic ideals of how women were presented during the war effort. So the high heel returned with a vengeance in the postwar period.”

The practical problem with high heels was technical. The heel spike had to support essentially the entire weight of the wearer. Steel worked, but it was expensive and heavy. Wood wasn’t strong enough. But new ultrahard thermoplastics were, and they could be coated with leather—and later, vinyls—to hide the ugly interior.

Designers drove a subsequent explosion in the quality and types of synthetic materials available. Among them, Ferragamo designed wedges based on Bakelite and sandals that used wide strips of Nylon for the uppers, and Roger Vivier sold clear plastic booties to fashionable clients. Seventies-era disco-goers could buy sky-high platforms; one design incorporated little fishbowls in the heels.

Newly unfettered by design limitations, shoes began to reflect the culture around them, including the 1960s obsession with the clear materials and plastics that were driving the space race at the time, says Semmelhenk.

And the rise of skate culture in the western U.S. in the 1960s and 70s—driven in part by a spate of droughts that forced homeowners to drain their backyard pools—was nudged forward by new ways of building shoes that could withstand a skateboarder’s beatings.

Athletes: ‘more performance!’

Simultaneously, worldwide sports culture was exploding. Running records were being set at every new world championships and Olympics, and companies like Adidas and Nike fought to get the top athletes to wear their cutting-edge designs. The same thing was happening on the basketball court.

Athletes wanted shoes that wouldn’t stretch, and they wanted shoes that would give them whatever little bit of a boost they could get. Rubber soles weren’t going to cut it, and leather uppers flexed too much.

“Leather is flesh,” says Edwards. “It’s always going to move with a body.”

In 1972, Nikes dropped the “Cortez” sneaker—a new design for runners that they promised would revolutionize the experience. They added a foam layer between the outsole and midsole made from “Phylon,” a composite of little ethylene vinyl acetate foam pellets that were heated and then cooled into a soft foam wedge. The squishy, springy foam sole was born.

Around the same time, designers got excited about using leather look-alikes for the uppers. Those materials were usually made from polyvinyl, a type of plastic. Players liked that they were flexible like leather but deformed less. Designers liked that they could produce a much wider range of colors, textures, and finishes than they could with natural leathers.

From then on, springy foam technologies and vinyl-esque uppers became the name of the game. Companies hired squadrons of designers and materials scientists to tweak the chemistry or shape of their materials to eke out a tiny bit of color from the upper, or extra energy returned to the runner from the soles.

“It was the obvious thing to do,” says Edwards. “You got improved strength, visual options, and easier production.”

Today’s foams kick about 70 percent more energy back at their wearers than the proto-foams of the 1970s; many runners think it translates to a noticeable increase in speed, though the science is still out on that. No matter what, new technologies have changed the way feet move and running motions develop. Some scientists and athletes think that technology like energy return foams were critical in Eliud Kipchoge’s sub-2-hour marathon record last week.

Shoes for the future

Plastics and plastic-like substances have completely reshaped the footwear landscape, says Nicoline van Enter, an expert on shoe design who focuses on sustainability issues. They’ve made shoes better, lighter, faster, more comfortable, and more accessible to foot-havers worldwide. So the big question now is: Can they also be made in a way that uses less planet-choking plastic?

Some shoe companies are looking to the past to excise plastic. Sevilla Smith, for example, builds each pair from only natural materials—strips of leather, wood, and metal nails—designing each shoe with the minimum of materials so they can be resoled or repaired nearly indefinitely.

The current trend in athletic footwear design, says van Enter, is less, less, less: Think Nike Flyknits, with their stretchy knit uppers. That slimmed-down design, says Edwards, is partly inspired by aesthetics, but also by economics, because it’s much cheaper to make a shoe that requires fewer pieces to glue or sew together.

That design also offers an interesting opportunity, says van Enter. Any shoe that uses mixed materials is tricky, if not impossible, to recycle, she says. So a shoe that uses only one material offers at least some hope of being recycled eventually.

Adidas is working on making a shoe that fits these principles. Their “Futurecraft Loop” sneaker, in development now, is made of one single material (thermoplastic polyeurethane) that can be at least partly recycled. Simultaneously, they and other brands are making shoes out of recycled ocean plastics.

But the limits of plastic recycling are currently hard. It takes energy to collect the materials, remake them into their second existence—and in many cases, that second life is their last, so recycling extends the process but doesn’t solve the underlying problem.

The solution? “We’re just going to have to buy and consume a lot less,” says Brennan.

Or, maybe, the future looks stranger. Edwards, laughing, explains his dream about the shoe of the future: A liquid material you’d dip your feet into when you leave the house each day, making a perfect mold of your foot. Then, when you come home, you dip your feet into another thing that breaks down the “shoe,” recycling it and getting it ready for the next day. It’s a dream for now, but creative solutions will be necessary if we’re going to kick our plastic habit.


Kate Middleton’s $85 shoes from Aldo are the best part of Wimbledon

(Photo by Victoria Jones - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Kate Middleton and Prince William stepped out this weekend to enjoy the tennis match at Wimbledon, but it’s the Duchess’s shoes that caught royal watchers’ eyes.

To complement her totally chic bespoke baby blue Emilia Wickstead dress, Kate opted for $85 heels from Aldo with an on-trend ankle strap.

Getty Images
Getty Images

The Duchess opted for the shade bone, but the shoe is available in six other versatile colours.

Take a look at the exact shoes Kate wore as well as other cute ankle strap heels!

Aldo Nicholes


From Wimbledon straight to your feet. Get these heels that Kate wore before they’re gone!

SHOP IT: Aldo, $85

Naturalizer Vera Ankle Strap Sandal

Naturalizer Vera Ankle Strap Sandal
Naturalizer Vera Ankle Strap Sandal

Show off your pedi all day with the signature comfort Naturalizer is known for.

SHOP IT: Nordstrom, $135

Sarto by Franco Sarto Ronelle Heeled Sandals

Sarto by Franco Sarto Ronelle Heeled Sandals
Sarto by Franco Sarto Ronelle Heeled Sandals

These two toned sandals will keep your feet comfy all day with a chunky block heel and elegant straps.

SHOP IT: Anthropologie, $120

Faux-Suede Braided-Strap Block-Heel Sandals

Faux-Suede Braided-Strap Block-Heel Sandals
Faux-Suede Braided-Strap Block-Heel Sandals

The braided strap on this heel elevates it to a summer staple.

SHOP IT: Old Navy, $35

Kota Ankle Strap Pump

Kota Ankle Strap Pump
Kota Ankle Strap Pump

A demure stiletto heel topped with a skinny ankle strap and styled with a leg-lengthening pointy toe in a gorgeous colour.

SHOP IT: Nordstrom, $135

Emma Go Navy Ankle Strap Heels

Emma Go Navy Ankle Strap Heels
Emma Go Navy Ankle Strap Heels

As well as the stunning scalloped pattern, this shoe is locally sourced and crafted in Alicante, Spain.

SHOP IT: Anthropologie, $200

Call It Spring Mynah Dress Sandals

Call It Spring Mynah Dress Sandals
Call It Spring Mynah Dress Sandals

A block heel is the perfect foundation for your wardrobe. Chic, sturdy and guaranteed to win compliments.

SHOP IT: The Bay, $30

Jewel Badgley Mischka Giona Sandal

Jewel Badgley Mischka Giona Sandal
Jewel Badgley Mischka Giona Sandal

Sparkling crystals embellish the toe strap of an elegant evening sandal.

SHOP IT: Nordstrom, $135

Raphaella Booz Jute Heeled Sandals

Raphaella Booz Jute Heeled Sandals
Raphaella Booz Jute Heeled Sandals

Delightfully feminine, this pastel pair infuses any outfit with sweet, sun-faded color.

SHOP IT: Anthropologie, $140

Style & Co. Paycee 2-Piece Dress Sandals

Style & Co. Paycee 2-Piece Dress Sandals
Style & Co. Paycee 2-Piece Dress Sandals

A sassy pair of red heels are a must for any wardrobe!

SHOP IT: The Bay, $40


M&S’ £50 summer shoes that sold out in just THREE hours are finally back in stock (but they’re already being snapped up so you’ll have to act fast)

A pair of M&S shoes that sold out in just three hours are back in stock.

The Fran, designed around a statement bow, proved a hit with shoppers and disappeared from shelves in just three hours when they were first introduced back in February.

The stylish pair of shoes was born from a M&S collaboration with influencer Fran Bacon from Instagram account Fashion Lift.

But act fast if you want to snatch a pair – the shoes are already selling out and have been snapped up in almost every size online, from size three to seven.

They're back! M&S restocked The Fran, its popular spring shoe designed by Fran Bacon of the Fashion Liff

They’re back! M&S restocked The Fran, its popular spring shoe designed by Fran Bacon of the Fashion Liff

The brand announced the Fran’s triumphant return on its Instagram page this morning.

The post read: ‘Sound the klaxon, our sell out Fran shoes from our “The Collective” shoe collection are back in stock.’

‘They sold out when they launched and by popular demand we have bought them back.’

A spokesperson for M&S told Mailonline that the shoes would also come back to ten selected stores across the UK too due to their popularity.

The £49.50 shoe (pictured) sold out in just three hours when it was first released back in February

The £49.50 shoe (pictured) sold out in just three hours when it was first released back in February

But online, some customers struck out while trying to get their hands on the Fran.

One wrote: ‘Added to bag, get to checkout to be told out of stock.’

‘I’m so disappointed that I’ve missed out again, when I went on ten minutes after you posted,’ regretted another.

The £49.50 feminine courts, released next month, are designed around a beautiful statement bow at the tow and boast a soft – and highly wearable – colour palette of nude and pink.

‘These court shoes will provide a feminine and stylish addition to your footwear collection,’ reads the M&S website.

The leather shoes (pictured) are adorned with a statement bow, in pink or nude, and a delicate ankle strap

The leather shoes (pictured) are adorned with a statement bow, in pink or nude, and a delicate ankle strap

The shoes are designed to be as comfortable as pretty, with their special sole built into the design.’ The Fran is part of The Footwear Collective, where social media stars design their own dream footwear for M&S.

The Instagram star styled hers with a pair of torn blue denim jeans and a sumptuously soft dusty rose velvet bag.

‘I love how feminine they feel,’ Fran said upon their initial release. ‘It was important that they represented my personality, and I think it has been captured so well.

Fans of the shoes tried to get their hands of a pair, but the item is already selling fast on the brand's website

Fans of the shoes tried to get their hands of a pair, but the item is already selling fast on the brand’s website

‘The neutral colours mean they can be worn with anything, dressed up or dressed down. I’ll be wearing ‘The Fran’ all summer,’ she added.

The high street stalwart unveiled its Footwear collective back in February.  They collaborated with seven stylish Instagrammers, who boast a combined following of more than 700,000 fans.

The women, all based in the UK, each designed their own shoe to reflect their personal style, whether it be a playful slide, statement heel or sporty sandal.


Masters 2019: The special edition shoes pros are wearing at Augusta National

olf shoe companies are getting into the Masters spirit by giving their players custom styles inspired by the tournament to wear at Augusta National. From Rory McIlroy to Mark Leishman, tour pros are showing some personality and Masters spirit on their feet. A few of the custom styles the tour pros are wearing are even available for purchase.

Brandt SnedekerG/Fore Gallivanter

G/Fore’s limited edition Gallivanter has all the technology benefits of the Gallivanter line—like the waterproof upper, the lightweight sole, and the cleat configuration. What makes the shoe limited edition is in the aesthetics. The pink and green colors make it a fit for the Masters, and spring in general.

Brooks KoepkaNike Tour Premiere

brooks shoes The Masters - Round One

Andrew Redington

Koepka isn’t the only Nike athlete wearing Masters-specific shoes. This version of the Tour Premiere features a light green snake skin pattern and the praying hands, a reference to Amen Corner, on the heel.

Marc LeishmanCallaway LaGrange

leishman_masters shoe_profile.jpg

This custom version of the LaGrange has the names of his children on it and a kangaroo for the Australian, as well as thematic coloring.

Rory McIlroyNike Air Zoom Victory Tour

rory's shoes The Masters - Round One

Mike Ehrmann

The snake pattern is the same as the Tour Premiere’s Koepka’s wearing. McIlroy helped in the designing of the original Air Zoom Victory Tour, which he’s been wearing different versions of since January.

Webb Simpson:FootJoy MyJoys

The beauty of MyJoys is that if you can’t find a color or style that you’re looking for, you have the option to just make them. Simpson’s version of the MyJoy features a new print that gives the shoe an old school vibe.

Austin Johnson, Dustin’s caddie: Adidas

The team at Adidas took inspiration from Georgia peaches for this limited-edition version of the Crossknit 3.0 — Georgia peach ice cream sandwiches to be specific. The sandwich itself can be found at concessions stands at the Masters. The insole features images of scoops of ice cream.

Bubba WatsonG/Fore Disruptor

gfore masters shoe.JPG

G/Fore collaborated with custom shoe company Nomad Customs to make these shoes for Watson to wear at the Masters. Each shoe is hand painted.


Fad Or Fixture: How Relevant Are CGI Models To The Fashion And Beauty Industries?

Balmain campaign

Balmain campaignBalmain

Lil Miquela has 1.5 million followers on Instagram. She’s 19-years-old, based in Los Angeles, a model and a musician.

The thing is, she’s also not real.

This computer-generated supermodel is the digital brainchild of an LA-based agency called Brud, which has recently received around $6 million in its latest funding round, led by Silicon Valley investors including Sequoia Capital.

That comes off the back of the fact that Lil Miquela, otherwise known as their resident “influencer”, make-believe though she is, is receiving real work.

Out front hiring her and various others that have been created, is the fashion industry, with brands from Balmain, Dior, Prada and Louis Vuitton having all jumped on the virtual avatar train.

Most recently, Lil Miquela featured in UGG’s 40th anniversary campaign, blending in seamlessly alongside two real-life influencers as though she were a natural part of the cast. For the unsuspecting onlooker, it’s not immediately clear she’s not.

The question is, do CGI models hold true value for such businesses, or is this just a fad? On the latest episode of the Innovators podcast by TheCurrent, I debate the topic with tech expert, Liz Bacelar