This week saw sustainable vegan footwear brand Yatay from Milan launch in London with an event at Mortimer House in Fitzrovia.
Joining Yatay founder, Umberto De Marco, guests included Toby Huntington-Whitely, Kimberly Wyatt, Jasmine Hemsley and Sienna Guillory. De Marco says: “I began working on the project three years ago, after realising that there was no offering of a proper luxe sustainable sneaker brand. It just seemed an obvious decision. Why should someone be forced to choose between luxury and sustainable footwear? I made it our mission to provide both.”
De Marco is also the president of Coronet Spa, an Italian company pioneering in the production of environmentally friendly materials which his father, Enrico, founded a little over 50 years ago. He invented an eco-friendly synthetic leather, and today Coronet Spa is a global manufacturer which supplies the likes of Stella McCartney, Maison Margiela, Louis Vuitton and Armani. Umberto De Marco comments: “In the past clients have requested material with lower ecological impact, which is probably why the idea of a fully eco-friendly luxury sneaker eventually occurred to me.”
Yatay sneakers come in low top, retailing at €240, and high top at €290. Some 55% of the upper material is obtained from corn, and 20% from recycled plastic. The soles come from renewable and biodegradable raw materials, the lining material comes from recycled plastic bottles, treated with non-toxic pigments, and the laces are made from hemp fibres.
“Yatay is the tallest palm of the Butyan tree family. It recalls our collaboration with One Tree Planted. For every pair sold, we plant a tree in an area of the world subject to deforestation,” offers De Marco. “We want our product to be not only passively sustainable, with eco-friendly production and materials, but actively as well – as much as we can. Deforestation can be considered one of the core environmental issues of today, directly affecting local wildlife, and indirectly worsening the greenhouse effect through the diminished absorption of CO2.”
In this its first season, besides its e-commerce platform, Yatay is being sold through L’Eclaireur in Paris and Gio Moretti in Milan, and via the web platform Maison de Mode. As yet there are no UK stockists, but the press generated around the brand launch means that’s likely to change very soon. “We are quite surprised by such a response,” says De Marco. “I can only guess that a true luxe sustainable brand was missing from the market, and the press are intrigued by finally having this option.”
Famous fans of the brand already include Sherlock Holmes actor Benedict Cumberbatch, who was recently spotted on a TV show interview wearing a pair of Yatay’s sustainable vegan sneakers. Doctor Watson would definitely approve.