Payless To Launch Green Footwear With Zoe & Zac and Summer Rayne Oakes

summer rayne oakes photo
payless zoe zack green collection photo

Summer Rayne Oakes and a purple ballet flat from Zoe & Zac
Image credit: Cohn & Wolfe
Payless ShoeSource, the discount footwear retailer, will launch Zoe & Zac, their first "green" line, as part of their Spring 2009 collection. Summer Rayne Oakes, Planet Green's fashion and beauty adviser and author of Style, Naturally: The Savvy Shopping Guide to Sustainable Fashion & Beauty, has been brought on to serve as an Eco Consultant for Payless' eco-friendly venture.

Continue reading for our conversation with Summer Rayne Oakes and details on the Zoe & Zac line! The line, complete with jewelry and handbags, will offer colorful alternatives to "muted" green color schemes and includes pinks and purples. Summer hopes that instead of green being "the new black," it will be "the new invisible" in that brands will embrace sustainable standards, and Payless' footwear line can't hurt that hope.

Summer explained that in creating the Zoe & Zac line they looked to "sustainability as a source of innovation." The main idea behind this line was to make green fashion affordable (the average price will be under $30) and available to the masses. Zoe & Zac is like "Jack & Jill" in that "everyone can do it," Summer says. Payless goes a step further and promotes it as "The first-ever affordable green footwear brand." This is not entirely true as we have seen Teva, Timberland, Toms, Nike, and Patagonia with sustainable standards and comparable prices.

When asked how the Zoe & Zac line is sustainable Summer explained that because there are no industry standards defining what makes a product "green" this venture has been and will be a "learning process for the consumer and company." Standards the company are currently following, in their first attempt at green footwear, include the use of organic cotton, at least 20% recycled rubber, eco foam, and nickel-free metal and hemp. The line also boasts "eco-smart packaging" which we will have to see for ourselves when the line is available in Spring 2009. I asked whether or not Payless would incorporate these products into their other lines and Summer said that was their hope, but again they are still in the beginning stages.
The shoes will be available in 500 stores with select styles in 1,000 stores and will be available on

What are your thoughts on Payless' incorporation of a green line on to their list of brands? Do you think this is mere greenwashing or do you think that every effort helps?

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