NAE is a brand that stands for No Animal Cruelty, and aims to make sustainable vegan leather shoes. While the brand may provide a healthier alternative to actual leather shoes, the majority of the materials - mainly microfibers and PU leather - are not sustainable.
The Jenny Hidden Laces Combat Vegan Boots are made from 90% Microfiber and 10% PU leather. One good thing about microfiber is that it is absorbent and requires less water than cotton. However, it is made out of plastics and is not biodegradable or recyclable. Plastic pollution remains a huge and growing problem today, so this is highly unsustainable.
I thought it was interesting that some of the materials in NAE’s other shoes include Piñatex, a natural and biodegradable fiber made from pineapple leaf fibers. There is a link with a decent amount of shoes made with Piñatex, but these also use microfibers and PU leather which seem to be the main materials of the brand. PU leather is usually derived from petroleum, contributing to the use of fossil fuels, and is generally not biodegradable as well. One good thing though is that the PU leather is OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certified, meaning the product is certified as having no materials harmful for human health.
NAE shoes are handmade, with 4 factories in Portugal and 2 in Spain. Their products are sewn in using cork material, instead of using glue, as a way to make their products high quality and last longer. NAE calls itself “Slow Fashion” to emphasize slow, handmade quality over something that is easy to reproduce quickly in mass quantities. This brand also states that it has 100% recyclable packaging. More importantly, the packaging is made out of recycled cardboard and wrapping paper, although I’m not clear on if it’s 100% made out of recycled materials.
NAE puts a lot of detail about their values and sustainability on their website. I found it interesting that NAE was transparent about their factories and has more details about their worker treatment, such as no child labor (18+ only) and the right to strike. However, the materials page talks about sustainable materials such as Piñatex which were not abundant in their actual products, so I felt a bit lied to as I looked into NAE thinking it would be a more sustainable brand. Ultimately, it is great that the brand does not harm animals and seems to be a healthy alternative to actual leather shoes, and their packaging and factories seem to be doing a good job, but their materials are not as sustainable as they claim they are.