Blowfish dives in, feet first, to sustainable spring–summer style
The flash and glamour of Jimmy Choo, Roger Vivier and Manolo Blahnik may be the stuff of footwear fantasies, but in the real, non-red-carpet everyday world, most women choose to keep their feet firmly planted on the ground—especially as the lines often blur between loungewear, athleisure and smart casual pieces. This description also fits the way many southern California women approach their wardrobes. So much so, in fact, that casual shoe manufacturer Blowfish Malibu has built their company and collections around that idea.
Another thing its designers (such as eight-year veteran Marcy Cail) and principals (such as marketing VP Karen Bueno) are keenly aware of is that the California æsthetic and values—sustainability, good vibes and effortless chic among them—have spilled over into the rest of America and abroad. The current campaign for the spring–summer 2021 collection further gets its point across by using the pool area of the trendy (but affordable) Saguaro Hotel in Palm Springs as a colourful backdrop. According to Cail and Bueno, Blowfish Malibu fans like to be feminine but do not want to wear stilettos most of the time. They seek a fresh middle ground between fashion and function.
‘Unlike collections from previous years, designing (this one) was a challenge due to the pandemic,’ said Cail. ‘However, challenging times brought us a surge of creativity. It also inspired us to create a real “feel-good” collection taking cues from 1970s retro styles with colours and patterns that ran the gamut from mellow, neutral hues to pops of citrus colours. In general, I love reading customer reviews—such as “comfortable out of the box”. We put great deal of detail into the design and manufacture of our shoes considering our price. So much so that I could talk 30 minutes about just one shoe style.’
When introducing this summer’s collection, Cail drew attention to the fabrics used to make the sandals and trainers. For example, in some of the sandal styles with textiles that read to the eye like genuine leather, the materials not only feel good against the skin, but almost customize themselves to the wearer’s foot. Buckle the strap on the most comfortable hole, and as part of the strap is elastic, she points out you would never have to unbuckle it again.
In 2021, the company is taking that commitment further by introducing popular styles such as the Granola and the Marley styles that are certified vegan. The new 4Earth collection further lowers its carbon footprint, as all styles in this line are designed with uppers made from recycled plastic. Along with the launch, Blowfish Malibu collaborated with Oceana, an international ocean conservation organization, making sustainable fashion accessible to the average person. The 4Earth shoes collection features some of the same styles and prices found in the other collections.
‘Going vegan prompted us to explore new materials,’ continues Cail. ‘Research was done to ensure all of our dyes, glues and fabrics would pass all the required tests when we submitted them to the Vegan Board to pass certification. [With 4Earth styles] the uppers are composed of recycled plastic, and we’re (moving to) painting designs instead of printing them so excess ink will not flow into the world’s waterways.’
‘Vegan shoes like ours are a catalyst for conversation because they look, feel and wear like high-quality leather shoes, showing you don’t need leather for a durable, versatile and stylish shoe,’ adds Bueno. ‘We understand the environment is an issue with many of our customers who support conservation, animal rescue and plant-based diets, and it forces us to reassess how we can be better as a brand in terms of social responsibility. This is how can we be a part of the conversation and make a difference through how we approach making our shoes beyond a literal reduction in the carbon footprint.’
Other highlights of the collection include shoes with the bold-but-versatile Blue Moon fabric, the Rainwater pattern, which echoes a tie-dye technique applying colour with ice cubes, as well as sandals and ‘flatforms’ integrating subtle animal prints and beachy linen-style accents. Check out the conscientious collection (including styles sized for toddlers, girls and pre-teens) at Famous Footwear, DSW and Zappos, as well as Amazon.com and numerous boutiques throughout the US. Read more about the company’s philosophy and philanthropy at blowfishshoes.com.