Making Fashion Out of Tires & Organic Materials
The “Artist You Should Know” series highlights Bay Area artists, makers, movers and shakers before before they exhibit their work somewhere awesome.
Here’s an SF based company that takes used tires before they get thrown into a landfill or burned, and makes shoes out of them. They also use organic canvas, banana leaves, and grass found in Indonesia to make all sorts of footwear and clothing. Their footwear peeked our interests because Indosole is one of the favorite vendors of Urban Air Market, (a sustainable design fair happening in SF May 7th). Yeah the shoes look cool, but more importantly they follow one of the highest standards in environmental impact, accountability, and labor practices in the fashion world. We chatted with founder Kyle Parsons about what it’s like running an environmentally conscious brand, while making sure your employees are treated fairly, across the globe.
Name: Kyle Parsons
Medium(s): Tires & Organic Materials
How do you maintain an ethical working standard in the fashion world?
You get a b-corp certification, it’s a standard that ensures our employees are paid fairly and of a legal age. B-Corp is also about social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.
So it’s important to be a b-corp in fashion these days?
I love B-Corp! We feel its a way to show our hard work and dedication through a symbol. A symbol that says we have done our best to check every box when it comes to responsible manufacturing. Also, the customer deserves to learn about the products they are buying. They need to know what is inside and where it comes from. Our feeling is that all consumer product businesses should be an open book. Allow your customer to come inside and see what happens in there 🙂
What’s an example of a big retail brand that is also a b-corp?
Jesus, Patagonia? If I had a dime for every Patagonia jacket I saw in the SOMA this month I would have enough cash to start my own fashion line.
HaHa, whether the people wearing Patagonia know it or not they are supporting a brand that stands for sustainability and fair trade practices (a b-corp), those are our customers too.
Alright well, hopefully some of those customers will start wearing Indosole instead of patagonia hiking gear so we can actually tell people apart in the SOMA, it’s like everyone there is on the same company camping trip…moving on…Where do you get all the tires you use for your soles?
We typically get the tires from local mechanics, and there are trucker stockyards that collect them as well (in Indonesia). We are basically in a race to collect the tires before people take them and burn them for fuel. 60% of the world’s trash exists in South East Asia, so we would like to do a small part keep some of that trash out of the ocean and air.
Let’s talk politics, are you a liberal or a super duper liberal?
4 months ago liberal – Now Super Duper Liberal – Our focus should be to stick together and feed off the energy of our community.
How has the shoe industry changed?
There is just a lot more competition and options today. At the beginning there were only a few dominant players in each category. Today, in order to get noticed as a young brand you have to go deeper in story and combine relevant looks with modern upgrades.
Any SF artists you think are outstanding right now?
Well Zio Ziegler did an iconic piece on Indosole’s old HQ The Church of Surf which we shared with San Franpsycho. The dude got on a lift and painted for 7 hours straight and did not have a sip of water or anything to eat and banged out a piece that made the Outer Sunset glow.
I also really love Ian Ross’ sand art he does at Ocean Beach.
Zio Ziegler piece on Indosole’s old HQ. GIF: theartaround.us
Favorite designer right now?
In men’s wear I am wearing Outerknown, Industry of All Nations, up top and down low. Both those brands have very close attention to detail and naturally dyed materials that our faded out and cool AF. On my face I really love Shwood Sunglasses as they are hand made from wood and fit my big Italian nose well.
What was your first job in San Francisco?
I was hired as a casting director to judge local bartenders for a show called America’s Top Bar Tender. It consisted of tasting the drinks that they made and narrowing it down to the two best bar tenders in the city for a trip to Vegas. In a city with some of the best bars and mixologists ever it was a tough gig!
What still inspires you about San Francisco?
Oh my god, what doesn’t. Its not like anything has fizzled out. I am stoked on the fact that more fashion and consumer goods businesses are choosing SF as opposed to the overcrowded SoCal scene. There is a growing culture here for small brands that are going global or a tech company disguised as a shoe. SF is a next level creation lab.
What was your latest fun night out in SF like?
It started with a bonfire at Ocean Beach and then crossed the tracks into the mission for a fun night of rowdy dancing at the Chapel. Everyone made it home safe and smiling.
What’s coming up for you?
Spring and Summer is the busiest time for Indosole. Our top selling products are the sandals we started with. So, we can be found at local SF markets and festivals. Like Urban Air Markets and Noise Pop events. Loooove summertime. Looove being in the mix.
I will also be travelling to Bali to work with our manufacturing team as we film for a Kickstarter video and prepare a new sandal line that will launch later this summer. Finally, I am looking forward to my 10th visit to Outside Lands!