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Footwear Brands Weigh in on Sustainability


The Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America released its new 2021 Sustainability Benchmark Report, which surveyed more than 100 shoe professionals about what their companies were doing, measuring, and focused on when it comes to sustainability.

The report provides insights into common challenges facing shoe companies — the FDRA says the results of this year’s survey showed some continued trend lines seen in prior surveys but also provided interesting revelations from behind the curtain.

Here are some key insights highlighted by FDRA in the report’s executive summary:

  • Employees at footwear brands increasingly hear questions and messaging from the c-suite on sustainability. Over the last three years, the intensity of these discussions remains a 7 on a scale of 10.
  • Nearly half of those surveyed do not think the marketing hype from shoe companies matches the actual execution, but 63% do think their company is doing better than others in living up to their marketing.
  • Shoe companies are increasingly working to measure environmental impacts. 38% of workers say their company is tracking impacts, with another 48% saying they will do so within the next 12 months.
  • Nearly half of shoe companies are asking material suppliers for certifications, pointing to a rising need for traceability. A significant percent, or 69%, of companies plan on using some type of bio material or recycled material in upcoming lines.
  • The biggest constraint to sustainability remains cost. Budgets are always tight but new spikes in supply chain costs are likely making it even harder for companies to invest in sustainability, which could be why the 2021 survey saw an increase to 80% of respondents who find cost to be the biggest issue.
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Oct 20, 2021


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