Moxi is a woman owned skate brand that single handedly revived the long lost art of roller skating. I have these skates myself, and I love them. They are light, comfortable, and so easy to skate in. Unfortunately, everything that makes them a great skate makes them bad for the environment: the easy mold to my feet is because they are cowhide and the lightweight feel is due to the plate made of oil. To make matters worse, looking deeper into Moxi’s girl-power vibe has left me disappointed. Moxi seems to go just far enough that they have a woke appearance, without having to make any changes themselves. That being said, Moxi’s size range in their clothing and their diversity is commendable. But it’s not enough to offset their lack of transparency and their significant contributions toward pollution.
The boot of this skate is made out of bovine cowhide. While most leather comes from cows that were killed for the meat industry, Moxi does not specify where their leather is sourced. Its most likely sourced from factory farms, where millions of tons of waste is generated that contaminates the ground and water, as well as millions of tons of methane is released into the atmosphere. Factory farms also require a lot of fossil fuels to keep running, rather than smaller, family farms. They require a lot of chemicals that pollute the water as well. The Global Fashion Agenda listed Cow Leather as the most environmentally damaging textile. It’s important to note that leather is listed as way more damaging than vinyl, the leading alternative to leather.
The plate, which connects the wheels to the shoe, is made of nylon so it can remain light while maintaining its structure rather than traditional aluminum. But, nylon is a plastic originated from crude oil. It is not biodegradable, and creates nitrous oxide in its production: a greenhouse gas that is 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
The skates’ final major component is its wheels, which are comprised of polyurethane. It a compound in between rubber and plastic, and does not change the pH in soil or water. However, I am not totally impressed by Moxi’s choice to source this material, for it is the only compound that will make wheels that are hard enough for indoor use and soft enough for outdoor use.
Moxi skates are manufactured by another larger skate brand, Rieddel, who has a factory in Minnesota. Rieddel lets their customers know in depth how their skates, including Moxi skates, are made. They are made by hand, and take three days to make. First the boot fabric is cut into its pattern, then the boot is sewn together and eyelets, tongue, and other features are installed. Next, the boot is molded and the sole and heel is added. After, the boot is sent to Moxi, and Moxi adds the plate and wheels. Since they are made by hand, the production’s main use of carbon is when it is shipped from Minnesota to California, where Moxi is based. The production also uses chemicals that runoff into the water during the molding stage. Rieddel does not acknowledge this or how they could lower the impacts of the production process at all.
Moxi gives no information about how their wheels are made, and there is no information on who the manufacturer is. The industry standard involves using an aluminum mold to hold liquid polyurethane. This is baked in an extremely hot oven to solidify. This process uses a lot of fossil fuels, as the oven is extremely hot and it used for 40 minutes per batch. On the bright side, aluminum is infinitely recyclable, and the most eco-conscious choice for a mold.
Moxi is such a big brand in the skate world, so even though they source most of their components from other companies, I know that providing a peek into the industry and showing how skates are made would excite consumers. More importantly, it would allow consumers to hold Moxi accountable if needed. Currently, there is a deep chasm between the information customers know and information Moxi is willing to share.
These skates are made by hand in America, but we are given no more information on the benefits and treatment that employees receive. However, I would like to see at least the word sustainability on Riedell’s website. They have no commitments to making their production more sustainable or equitable, which by default means Moxi’s production as well. On the other hand, Moxi’s website is very different. They carry up to the equivalent to a xxl (their sizes are letters instead of the traditional small, large, etc) and their models are diverse in race, size, and hair type. They also have a page dedicated to promoting the art of black women with links to their shops. This is something that I have never seen a company do, and I love how they put their money where their mouth is in terms of supporting black creators.
However, much of their work seems performative, even their page for black creators. There is no place saying that they donated to charities or hire any of these women, and the page is hidden behind many links. Their link titled #blacklivesmatter takes you to Moxi’s personal linktree, which has no information on the BLM movement. I think that this page is a great start, but it needs to have more attention, and the responsibility should not be on the costumer to buy from the creatives alone, but also for the company to donate in tandem.
This performative allyship continues on their sustainability page. The only notes that the company gives on how they themselves are sustainable is their dedication to rollerskates. Their high quality skates last long, so they don’t need replacing, and many workers skate to work instead of driving, as well as reusing packaging from other companies. While all of these actions are good, they are what I expect of individuals, not what I expect of a company that sells out of their skates as soon as they are in stock. While companies have very large environmental impacts compared to the individual, they also have the power to make wide scale changes to their business such as using recyclable materials. The rest of the page tells the consumer what they can do to help the environment, like buying their vegan skates, skating to work, or cleaning up litter. It feels wrong for a company that has such a large impact on the environment to tell a consumer that they need to fix the environment, especially if one of the solutions is buying their product. One good thing Moxi does do is sell their skates and products that aren’t perfect, like a sample sale, at a reduced price. They spin this as a sustainability effort, but I am not totally convinced. This is a normal practice in the fashion world. I commend Moxi for doing this, but it does not come close to offsetting their huge carbon footprint.