Yatay was created out of frustration when purchasing footwear meant you had to choose between quality, or sustainability. So instead of just accepting this as a part of what is, founder Umberto decided to create his own completely sustainable, and high quality footwear.
Yatay’s footwear is produced in Italy using manufacturing processes to reduce the amount of impact possible on the environment. Their goal, is to prove that being sustainable and of a high quality, do not have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, their shoes are made from entirely from eco-friendly, Peta-approved vegan materials.
1. The box they come in is made from five plastic water bottles, which has an environmental impact of 90% lower than a standard shoebox.
2. The lining Yatay used in the shoes is made from recycled polyester and waterborne polyurethane. By using recycled polyester, it cuts 80% of the CO2 emissions, while also producing a soft and breathable lining. On top of this, all dyes used contain non-toxic colouring agents to ensure that the environment is protected.
3. The soles of their soles are completely biodegradable, made from bio-derived polyurethane and two green bio-plastics which were acquired from industrial waste.
4. The upper is made from a faux leather fabric acquired from recycled raw materials and Bio Polyols. The toe caps and buttresses are made with an organic cotton base that is treated with a water-based, solvent-less technology and lastly, the laces are made from Italian hemp, as it is a low water and land requiring crop.
5. For every pair of Yatay shoes sold, one tree is planted through One Tree Planted, to continue fighting against deforestation around the world.
Behind the Brand:
An interview with Umberto, the founder of Yatay.
What made you start Yatay?
Three years ago, I realised that if I wanted to buy a sneaker I was forced to choose between quality and sustainability. At that moment no brand was offering a product embedding the two. Together with my brother I decided to create Yatay to prove that Made in Italy and contemporary design can coexist while still respecting the environment.
What has been the most challenging thing you have uncovered since the beginning?
Our greatest challenge have been finding the best supplier for every single component of the shoe. A sneaker is indeed composed of not only upper, lining and sole. There are so many details in it. Our mission have been ensuring that all of them were sustainable. Mission achieved.
Within the ethical fashion community, there's a big question that we ask which is 'who made my clothes?'. In the scope of Yatay, who made your footwear? Can you tell us a bit about them?
When we had to outsource our factory work, we knew we wanted a partner that ensured a living wage and safe working conditions. So many clothing manufacturers today do not mind their workers’ rights and needs and in any way we would have been that kind of company. We therefore appointed a family run company based in the Italian region of Marche with a twenty years’ experience in the footwear industry.
Why did you pick the fabrics or materials that you have chosen to work with?
I’ve set up a R&D team within Coronet specifically for this task. Coronet has been leader for 51 years now in the production of highly advanced footwear materials and had previously developed eco-friendly fabrics. It just came naturally to me to move forward with conceiving a new sustainable fabric for the shoe’s upper that had a nice look and feel.
Best piece of advice you have ever received?Don’t give up what you want most for what you want now
What is something others wouldn't know about starting an ethical business that you think they should?
In fashion it implies much more time than a standard one. But gives proportional satisfactions
One tip you'd give to others who are wanting to start their own business?
Be persistent. When knowledge and ability aren’t enough, be persistent.
Where do you envision Yatay in the future?
We’d like Yatay to be part of the “Green Revolution” in the fashion industry. Not only in terms of aesthetic and production, but also for what concerns the lifestyle. Our main goal is that to prove that brands are nowadays able to achieve a genuine synergy between luxury and sustainability
What or who inspires you to do what you do on a daily basis?
Being one of the main promoter of the green revolution of our generation.
Do you have a morning routine? If so what is it you do to set yourself up for the day ahead?
I work out 4 times a week at six am. It gives me energy and motivation for my work day.
One book everyone should read? Why?
Eating Animals by J.S. Foer. We know something is wrong with how completely estranged we are from the process that turns animals into product. We have that general feeling and we don't want the specifics and don't want to face being held accountable for what we know. The fact that someone decides to unveil what’s really happening within the production processes when everyone else is doing what they can to cover it up prompted me do my own bit.
One documentary everyone should watch? Why?
Netflix’s The True Cost. It gives you a totally unusual point of view of the fashion business.