woman in yellow miniskirt leaning on gray panel

Komrads shoes were once a symbol for anti-capitalism. They were created in Soviet times in 1950s by the Czech Boot Company as a response the West’s shoe revolution. Komrads quickly became a cult favorite, but they were forgotten in 2009 when production was stopped due to industry slump. Greet and Mark Vandevelde, a Belgian couple, revived Komrads in 2015. They made a sustainable version from recycled cotton.

“The more we learned about production processes, the more we asked questions about the fashion industry. How polluting does this industry really seem? Consider the Rana Plaza tragedy and the many sweatshops. How about the fact that less then 1% of fashion material is recycled into new clothes? Climate change is another issue.” The founders explain that every year, 18 million hectares (a region the size of England or Wales) of rain forest are felled. They are replaced by large swathes palm oil trees and rubber plantations.

woman in yellow miniskirt leaning on gray panel

“And so, that was the beginning of our dream. It was a dream to create a fashionable and comfortable sneaker that doesn’t cause any harm to the environment. We don’t have to use natural resources for this sneaker. A sneaker made entirely of re-used or recycled materials. Vandevelde and Goegebuer both say that they truly want to make the planet a better place.”

The new Komrads have been updated to be more modern in quality, design, and sustainability. However, the names of the models are a reminder of their turbulent past: the low-top model was called “Spartak” while the high-top model was called “Partizan”.

The soles of both models have a distinct look and the toe cap is grooved. The seams are mostly wavy and there is no metal eyelet to make it more minimalistic and cohesive. The sneakers are now available in pastel colours, such as pink and light blue.

Ex-Soviet sneakers can now be vegan

The 100% vegan, PETA-certified Icns collection’s uppers are made of 100 percent recycled cotton. The sole is made from 100% recycled rubber. The recycled polyester and cotton used in the inner linings and laces of the Icns collection are used for the laces. The insole can be removed and is made of recycled carbon (Arnetech). Komrads are made in Portugal and designed in Belgium.

Komrads’ Icns collection includes high- and low-top sneakers in a variety of colours. They are available in EU sizes 36-46 (approximately US 5-13 and UK 3-12). Spartak models are available for 75 euro (around 84 US Dollars / 63 British Pounds) and Partizan models for 85 Euros (around 95 US Dollars / 71% British Pounds).

The Apl collection is made of apple leather and it’s available in addition to the Icns line. The low-top model is 139 euros, or around 156 US Dollars /117 British Pounds. The high-top model is 154 euros (around 173 US$ / 129 British Pounds). Ocns is currently developing a collection of recycled marine plastic models. It will be available soon.