By Morwenna Kearns
The forthcoming Star Wars collection from Po-Zu is getting a lot of people very excited. It won't arrive till August – you'll have to wait till May just to pre-order a pair – but the force awakened by the chance to dress like Rey, Poe Dameron and even Chewbacca is strong.
Po-Zu launched the AW17 Star Wars-inspired footwear collection at a press event in London last week, presented by the brand's founder and CEO Sven Segal and new managing director Safia Minney, who has moved from ethical fashion pioneers People Tree. Star Wars maker Lucasfilm approached Po-Zu a couple of years ago to discuss a tie-in, Segal explained, resulting in a win for the ethical fashion market as a whole.
Segal launched Po-Zu after ten years in the footwear industry, seeing the 'dark side' (he actually said that) of shoe production every day, from the major environmental destruction to the toxic chemicals' effect on workers' health. In his words, he 'HAD to start a brand'. The name, Po-Zu, comes from a Japanese word for 'pause' – a suggestion that we 'slow down, chill out, slip into something more comfortable' – and echoes Japanese 'home shoes' (outdoor shoes are typically taken off at the door of Japanese homes and swapped slippers) and the culture's general preference for natural materials over toxic ones in the house.
The Star Wars collection has the same ethics and innovative approach to sustainable materials as the rest of the Po-Zu range. Many are vegan, and vegetable-tanned, chromium-free leather is used for other styles. Segal says he 'would love to phase out leather one day but there is currently no commercially viable, sustainable alternative'.
Po-Zu is using leather alternatives cork and pineapple-derived Pinatex its main collection, however, in black and white, neutral and even metallic colours. Organic cotton and microfibre are used for trainers, which also have super-comfy soles made from natural latex and coir (fibre made from coconuts – totally tropical!). This natural and biodegradable combination moulds to the shape of the foot to create a mattress that keeps tootsies dry and insulated in both cold and hot weather.
The brand's shoes, therefore, are designed to be totally wearable – and this extends to the Star Wars range (which includes children's sizes). The Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron and Stormtrooper designs are basically replicas of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens characters' own shoes while the Chewbacca style is ostensibly a pair of Wookiee feet, so ideal for a bit of everyday cosplay. Some artistic licence has been afforded for the BB-8 design; the orange and white high-top nods to the beloved, and notably footless, droid.
The AW17 Star Wars collection is just the first of three – expect more in SS18 and AW18 – and Po-Zu hopes it will spread the word about sustainable footwear beyond its existing ethically-minded customer base. Safia Minney noted that 'the UK is a laggard behind Germany and Holland' when it comes to ethical fashion, but she is well placed to change that: the brain and creative talent behind People Tree will drive Po-Zu campaigns with other fashion brands, as well as with green energy provider Ecotricity (also championed by Vivienne Westwood).
Segal also hinted that Po-Zu will open a flagship store in London in the future and has some plans for extending the range to include accessories – Minney modelled a prototype rucksack made using the same materials as the shoes. It's a new market but in many ways ready-made for a shoe brand – Segal notes that bags are easier in terms of sizing. 'Nothing is more difficult than shoes', he said, but he seems to have cracked it.