Photos: Courtesy of Pauline in Love.
While most people will probably agree in that the work of TOMS shoes is remarkable, some argue that encouraging change in society to avoid poverty in the first place is better than charity. Enter Pauline in Love, a brand from Argentina that produces stylish alpargatas (a very typical footwear from this country) working head to head with workers from cooperatives, many in recovered factories.Actually, the brand grew from a larger project called The Working World Ethical Market, an American NGO based in Argentina and Nicaragua that works with microcredit to empower workers from cooperatives and from factories that have been recovered by unemployed people in the 2001 crisis (a model called 'autogestion' or workers' self-management).
"We work with the workers re-designing, creating new products and also paying attention to details and quality of finishing. Our idea is to help people change their economy so that their products can endure in time and not be taken only as a passing 'ethical chic' trend," says Paula Surraco, who works at the organization and who independently created Pauline in Love recently.
This brand is a project that was developed with a footwear cooperative from the province of Buenos Aires, following the line of changing the look of this typical garment from Argentina to meet today's aesthetics.
Its line of alpargatas includes models with printed canvas and leather in different colors and styles. We'd love to see the use of more sustainable materials like organic cotton and chrome free leather (or, in my case, no leather at all), but it's important to note that the availability of these materials is not as extended in Argentina.
According to the brand, the cotton from the canvas models comes from another local factory in San Luis province in the country, they use cotton and leather scraps, and leftovers from the industry to cover the inner part of the shoes. "We want the whole product to be sustainable as more alternatives become available," says Surraco.
Even though the idea of modern alpargatas might not be groundbreaking, the brand seems like an interesting alternative to the TOMS model and, if you're in Argentina, they're available locally (weirdly enough, TOMS are hard to get here). The shoes are sold online through PaulineInLove.com.
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