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My Favorite Minimal White Sneakers Are Fully Recyclable

Photo: Courtesy of Karina Hoshikawa
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I've always sung the praise of a white sneaker as one of the most versatile shoes you can possibly own. I'm a bit of a shoe hoarder as it is (I've previously divulged that I travel with several pairs — even for weekend trips) and have racked up a small collection of white sneaks, from my beloved, worn-in Common Projects to several eco-friendly pairs from French footwear imprint Veja. I’m always on the hunt for new pairs, however, so when I came across Thousand Fell’s Lace Up sneakers, I knew I'd discovered something special. For starters, they were sleek as can be: no ostentatious logo, minimal stitching detail, accent color on the heel tab (in my case, black), and flat laces that lent the shoe an overall elevated look and feel. I could honestly stop there as far as counting the reasons why I loved them, but I haven't even gotten to the best part: They're 100% vegan, sustainably made, and recyclable.

Thousand Fell Lace-Up, $120 ($100 + $20 Recycling Deposit)

The NYC-based startup was founded in 2018 by Stuart Ahlum and Chloe Songer, two entrepreneurs with a passion for impactful design. In lieu of dropping a ton of styles, Thousand Fell launched with two timeless signature styles: A classic Lace Up and Slip On. (They have since added a third style, The Court, to their lineup.) The shoes' water- and stain-resistant faux leather upper is made from coconut, sugarcane, and palm but looks deceptively like the real thing. (A feat!) A cushioned insole made from recycled rubber yoga mats make for supportive wear, and the laces are made from recycled PET. The kicker? Instead of chucking your shoes in the trash if you're cleaning out your closet, Thousand Fell will take them back and either refurbish them and donate the upcycled pair to someone in need or ensure that the shoe's raw materials are reused, and you earn $20 off your next pair. ("When customers recycle their TF sneakers with us, we provide them with a $20 credit in the form of a one-time use code on towards their next pair of TF sneakers," explains a Thousand Fell representative.)

Thousand Fell Slip-On, $120 ($100 + $20 Recycling Deposit)

But back to the shoes: I usually am in between a women's 5 and 5.5, but went for the 5.5 to avoid them feeling too snug. Not only did they fit perfectly, but they had almost no break-in period. They also were extremely chic and looked great with leggings, jeans, dresses — pretty much everything in my closet. At $120, they're not inexpensive, but in my opinion, relatively affordable in terms of a high-quality sneaker and not out of the ordinary compared to other brands. (I personally like investing in things like shoes and bags and will comfortably splurge on a designer shoe that I will wear for a long time. But to each their own!)
As far as the elephant in the room is concerned, now's as good a time as any to talk about the cleanability factor with these. White anything is obviously begging for spills and stains (I can't wear a pair of white jeans without getting something on them), and the same is the case for my Thousand Fell sneaks. But — and this is a big but — the key here is that these are magically easy to clean. Mystery puddle drips and signs of everyday wear and tear can magically be wiped away with mild soap and water and voilà, it's like they're brand new. (My pair, pictured above, is over a year old. Can you believe?) I know cleaning your shoes sounds like a lot of effort, but trust me when I say it makes a big difference in keeping them looking good for a long period of time and is totally worth it.

Thousand Fell Court Sneaker, $130 ($110 + $20 Recycling Deposit)

You don't need to look far to find any fashion brand touting sustainability as a core value, but it is rare to actually see a brand integrate responsible practices into virtually every aspect of the product's life cycle. Thousand Fell could've stopped at making a dope sneaker and I probably still would've been a fan, but the fact that they're a brand I can genuinely feel good about has me hooked for good.
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