“For students, by students,” is the motto behind KANDALS, a San Diego-based, eco-friendly shoe company that originated from a marketing project started at San Diego State University, initially developed to help students learn to create and run their own marketing campaigns.
The idea is not novel. Over the past few years, canvas shoes, made from all natural materials (like the infamous Toms that are the uniform footwear of poets) have been making headway in the fashion aesthetic of hipsters, hippies and granola-wielding yoga moms—saving the planet and helping humanity, one shoe at a time. The idea behind KANDALS is similar. The shoes are made from natural rubber, organic Spanish cotton and are entirely environmentally friendly, free from the use of any animal products. And like the industry pioneer, the San Diego-born company is using their footwear to further help the globe in a partnership with non-profit organization, Trees for the Future.
However, despite the similarities with other versions, the brand took a few notes and made some improvements on the popular canvas-shoe model. Made in Spain, KANDALS has incorporated a double layer of locally sourced, cotton fabric as well as a spongey lining between the canvas to help eliminate the “breaking in” period most are familiar with. The exterior has also been through a vulcanization process, increasing the durability of the rubber while also maintaining its flexibility so they can easily be tossed in a purse or gym bag.
Remember that roommate of yours whose woefully loved canvas shoes, left discarded in the corner of the room at the end of the day, created such an unholy stench that it was beyond the help of any amount of Febreeze or outdoor banishment? Well, they considered that too and thoughtfully decided to dye all of their soles with strawberry essence. Because the scent is engrained in the rubber versus the fabric, it’s meant to be subtle and long-lasting. While this is no guarantee that the foot smell won’t get to it eventually, it’s definitely a help.
Photos Courtesy of Trees for the Future
Aside from the earth-conscious materials the brand uses, KANDALS is further supporting their belief in sustainability with the help of Trees for the Future, which, since its 1989 conception, has created tree-planting efforts throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America. Every pair of shoes purchased plants trees in deforested areas in the world. Recently, customer support through the KANDAL brand has helped to spruce up regions of Ethiopia.
But it’s not just far-off countries the eco-minded brand is trying to help. The company supports a “grass roots” mentality when it comes to business, recruiting outgoing students to help their cause and giving college-aged adults an opportunity to learn about real world marketing and entrepreneurship. Because they are a student-centric organization, KANDALS offers special pricing for colleges and regularly offers ways for students to get involved. To learn more about their vision, visit the company website and read their blog. The two separate women's lines, Eco and Envir Classics, cost between $32 and $34. They can be purchased online, at Graffiti Beach in South Park, at the SDSU Bookstore and the UTC mall.