Saye Modelo ’89 Vegan Mango Sneakers

overall rating:



Jian Hong Shi
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The Modelo ’89 Vegan Mango shoe is a sleek, minimal shoe that has the potential to be marketable to a wide demographic. I like that its actual design isn’t centered around screaming that it’s sustainable, because that can turn a lot of people off. The price tag comes in just under $200, which is more than twice the price of a Nike Air Force 1 and is quite steep. Though it’s understandable if sustainable sourcing and practices are more pricey, Veja sneakers sit around $120 and are very sustainable. I think Saye is a great new brand that gives consumers another trendy, cool alternative to non-sustainable sneakers. By increasing the number of eco-friendly companies, you widen the net of who you’ll catch because you’ll be expanding designs and therefore appeal. I’m impressed with what I found out about Saye, their transparency feels authentic and I appreciated how easy to navigate their website was–they literally have a tab titled ’Transparency.’ However, there were some missing statements about manufacturing and sources that should be filled in as soon as possible or they risk that authenticity quickly fading. It was great to hear how conscious Saye is about sustainability through their production process, whether it’s the suppliers they choose or the materials they use. In addition to Fruitleather Rotterdam and You Shoes, they’ve also partnered with Eyand: another Portuguese company that uses a 100% natural dyeing approach which increases the lifespan of garments by 40% and is 100% hypoallergenic. These dyes are used for Saye garments and do not use chemicals that can be harmful to those handling them or contaminate surrounding areas. Saye has a cool reforestation initiative that plants 2 trees every time a pair of sneakers are sold. They’ve planted 30,326 trees in India through a partnership with WeForest, which allows for more sustainable practices for the villages they work with. Saye and WeForest have also planted 112,726 trees in Zambia with similar ecological restoration goals. Saye is a relatively new brand that is off to a great start and I hope they become more transparent about the actual manufacturing process and the sources of all of their materials in the future.

What it's made of:


This sneaker is classified as vegan, organic, and recycled. All materials used for this product are stated as 100% organic. Its upper is made of bio-based leather. This leather is made of recycled mango, the first I’ve heard of such a thing! The Vegan Mango page seems solely focused on the fruit leather, so I went to the normal Vegan materials page for the following information. The outsole is also made in Portugal and is composed of 30% natural rubber and 70% synthetic rubber. They don’t say where they source their rubber from or how it is made. The insole is made from 60% recycled polyurethane foam and 40% virgin PU foam. Polyurethane foam is made from crude oil or renewable sources, but Saye doesn’t specify which their suppliers use. It has a bamboo lining, but they don’t state anything about how and what this is made of. Saye uses organic cotton for their laces which uses fewer pesticides than non-organic cotton and is less polluting. Shoe reinforcements in the toe and heel are made from recycled thermoplastic leftover plates mixed with up to 35% of the wood chips they recover. Saye shoeboxes are made of 100% recycled boxes and paper that is manufactured in Portugal. Their packaging is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and the Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification which guarantees the supply chain is sustainable from source to the final product. Lastly, their shipping packaging is not plastic, it’s a biodegradable material made from cornstarch.

How it's made:


The upper is made of a leather-like material that’s been converted from its original state of leftover fruit. Real mangoes that have been thrown out are treated and turned into a durable, leather-like material that is itself organic and recyclable. The unsold fruit is collected from Dutch distributors and then deseeded and mashed. That pulp is boiled to prevent rotting and eliminate bacteria. After being boiled, it is spread out to dry and then is ready for use. Saye’s vegan leather is approved by PETA and is made from renewable sources. These sources have high bio-based content, with the majority of the materials derived from plants like sugar cane, corn, and beets. Unfortunately, Saye didn’t add a lot of information about the actual manufacturing process other than the ethical labor standards they employ. Though they provide sources for most of their materials, they leave out a few like organic cotton. They did state that all manufacturing, supplying, and producing is done in Europe, so I’d like to see exactly where everything is located.

Who makes it:


All Saye products are designed in Barcelona and “proudly made” in Europe. They decided to have all production occur in Portugal after visiting several factories in Spain that did not meet their standards in terms of ethics and conditions. Their supplier is You Shoes, which has fair wages, shifts, and gender equality. You Shoes also have sustainability on their mind; they built their facilities from scratch, prioritizing natural light and low energy consumption, and currently recycle around 50% of their garbage with a goal of 100%. Saye’s supplier’s employees work eight-hour shifts from Monday to Friday with paid overtime (only up to 2 additional hours by law) and are entitled to have 22 working days off per year. Saye regularly asks suppliers to perform recurrent chemical tests and social audits to ensure the transparency and integrity of their products. For this Modelo ’89 Vegan Mango sneaker, Saye collaborated with the Dutch company, Fruitleather Rotterdam, which specializes in recycling discarded fruit that otherwise would’ve ended up in landfills. Saye works only with European suppliers to reduce the distance needed to travel between them and save those emissions from going into the atmosphere.