Aequa Eco Chic: Shock Campaign for Eco-fashion

The ads appearing in Italian journals are impossible to overlook: a pair of bloodied feet, no shoes in sight; the logo "Fashion Senza Victims" (Fashion without victims). The campaign by Young & Rubicam introduces the "Aequa-eco chic" line of shoes. With 5 million euro (6 million US dollar) financial backing and the name recognition of Bologna Soccer backer Gazzoni Frascara, the firm Gazzoni Ecologia has enlisted designer Alberto del Biondi to create a stylish footwear sensation which can rival traditional materials but is a completely recyclable shoe made of only natural and recycled materials, using methods which minimize the wastes associated with manufacture. You can see the Aequa "City" and learn more across the fold...
The name Aequa derives from the Latin "Aequum" meaning equal or just, but was also selected for its connotations of transparency, purity, and cleanness associated with the Italian word for water. Perhaps unintentionally, it also brings to mind the two plastic water bottles recycled into microfibers for each pair of shoes. The shoes are approved by the Ecolabel mark, which seems insufficient to reflect the research and commitment to using only practices and materials which do not cause injustice, nor produce any negative impact on the environment, while emphasizing reuse and recycling of materials.

The shoes are claimed to have uppers as flexible, water resistant yet breathable as traditional leather although the materials used are only vegetable fibers and microfibers of recycled PET. The soles are recycled industrial rubber (scented with verbena) and inserts are breathable coconut fiber. Lifespan can be extended by washing and the firm is planning to take the used shoes back for recycling into shock-absorbing pavements at the end of their life.

All this of course is secondary to the first principle of Italian shoemakers: fashion. Aequa places emphasis on the harmony of form and purpose in a contemporary, cosmopolitan style. Also consistent with the idea of fashion without victims, the Aequa shoes are designed for comfortable, free, unimpeded movement of the eco-sensible customer. Two models, "Dancing" and "City" are available for Autumn 2005 and a line of accessories is anticipated for Spring of 2006.

The business plan was conceived based on new market research which suggests that the target market is over 10% of the population (mostly 35 to 44 years old) who are educated, activist, on top of the trends and fashions, well-informed--and most important: willing to pay to achieve improved psychological and physical well-being in their consumer activities. But are they willing to pay €130 (US$ 160) a pair (family three-pack for €298 (US$360))?

::Alberto del Biondi