6 cool shoe brands you’ve probably never heard of

But I went to a footwear trade show and hunted them down for you!

I spent last weekend in Milan…not for my usual reason – fashion week – but at a footwear trade show called MICAM (full disclosure, I was invited by the Italian Trade Agency, who paid for my trip, but I was under no obligation to post anything about the exhibition). I’d never been to an event like this before. If you’ve been to a wedding fair, though, it’s basically the same thing but for shoes. And with less women drinking champagne and looking at veils. And it was VAST! I walked over twenty thousand steps each day specifically to find some great new brands for you lot. Aren’t I nice?!

Asportuguesas

Asportuguesas

I have much good news to bring from MICAM. Flats were definitely top of the agenda. Obviously there were heels there, but they weren’t as predominant as I’d expected, given that the majority of brands were Italian (and we all know how much those Italians love a bit of glamour – the less said about the amount of fur on shoes the better to be honest). Hiking boots are 100% still going to be big news for a while – the styles I saw this weekend were for autumn/winter 2019/20, and as such I wasn’t allowed to take pictures of them, but I can tell you that our favourite hikers were everywhere, in bright colours and leopard print and even rubber Wellington versions!

Panafrica 2.jpg

Panafrica

The best news, though, is that I found a load of new brands that I’d never heard of before. So I thought I would share them with you. Most of them aren’t stocked in the UK, but they do ship to the UK, so there’s no problem there (at least, until Brexit is resolved). So if you want something a bit different; something that you’re almost guaranteed to never see anyone else wearing, these are the brands you need to know…

1. Henry & Henry

Henry and Henry

I promised you rubber hiking boots, and I give you rubber hiking boots! This Italian brand specialises in rubber shoes, and as well as these beauties (which will be coming in lots more colours in the future), they do loads of sandals, including ones with Velcro straps that are like a more waterproof pair of Tevas. These particular boots aren’t available at the moment, but you can register at henryandhenryshop.com for them to email you when they are back in stock.

2. Caval

Caval 2

Caval ‘Pink Night’ sneakers, €165 (caval.fr)

This has to be my favourite discovery of the weekend. Caval makes sneakers that are slightly different, but still match. A very similar concept to my favourite socks brand, Oybo, in fact, who I told these guys about immediately when I met them (a collaboration is on the cards there, surely!). These mismatched kicks are unisex and come in 7 different guises. Designed in France, made in Portugal.

3. Genuins

Genuins

Genuins ‘Tika’ sandals, €25.50 (genuins.com)

I was really REALLY taken with some styles from Spanish brand Genuins that sadly I won’t be able to show you for a while as they don’t launch until September. But they are gorgeous, and are very big on using recycled products. Watch this space for those. In the meantime, take a gander at these on-trend animal print sandals.

4. Asportuguesas

Asportuguesas

Asportuguesas clogs, €69.90 (overcube.com)

As you know, I am on a sustainability drive, so I was thrilled to discover Asportuguesas amongst the eco-friendly brands at the exhibition (see Genuins above, and keep reading for even more!). They are quite a distinctive style but it’s one that I really like, and they have excellent environment credentials. The soles are made from a blend of cork and rubber – cork is great because it can be used without the tree having to be cut down. The felt uppers are mostly made from natural materials, apart from the McNamara collection, which is made from recycled bottles and donates €1 from every pair sold to McNamara’s surf school for disadvantaged children. I have contacted the brand to double check that they ship to the UK but they haven’t replied yet, but as a European brand I’m sure they do!

READ MORE: THE RESPONSIBLE FOOTWEAR GUIDE

5. Another Project

Another Project

Another Project boots, 758DKK (around £90; anotherproject.dk)

This was the first brand that caught my eye, mainly for some AMAZING hiking boots that I can’t show you yet! But it’s worth nothing that they have some in the sale at the moment. Another Project is a Danish brand – always good in my book – and the designs are lovely. Don’t be put off by the currency; I’ve worked it out and they’re really reasonably priced.

6. Panafrica

Panafrica

Panafrica sneakers, from €75 (panafrica-store.com)

This ethical French label has its heart in Africa, as the name suggests. The beautiful fabrics used on the sneakers are made using traditional wax techniques, which Panafrica is helping to preserve in Ivory Coast through a partnership with Uniwax. The brand also has a partnership with Africa Tiss, which supports women in the handmade textile industry who are disadvantaged. Not only that, it donates 10% of the profits from every pair of sneakers sold to charity. Oh, and the shoes are GORGEOUS.