Komrads & the Sustainability Parodox


An Interview with Mark MJ Vandevelde

Vegan. Circular. Sustainable. That’s about the easiest way to describe “Komrads”, Belgian fully sustainable, full-circle and vegan footwear encourages the many people to become #komsradsofthefuture. 
Mark MJ Vandevelde embarked on his sustainable sneaker journey in 2015 when they decided to make a promise to create the sneaker with the lowest possible impact on the planet. Continuously researching and developing a sneaker made entirely of re-used and recycled materials, without having to harvest any natural recourses. A truly, cruelty-free sneaker, part of the circular economy, without compromising on quality, comfort and design.
We had a talk with Mark about his iconic sneakers, collections and collectibles made out of apple leather and plastic. The sneaker of the future!
97% of all sneakers end up getting either burned or dying on fashion dumps. We create shoes that last and, when they’re done for, reincarnate in SMOSS – Soles Made Of Sneakers
“Sustainability and circularity encourage creative thinking. We stop to think about tricky questions like: What’s the potential of a waste stream?”, Mark says. Komrads continues to invest in research and development to, literally, create the lowest carbon footprint. Different Komrad collections boast different styles and are made with different, sustainable materials like apple leather or ocean plastic. 
We loved hearing about Mark’s views on sustainability as he shares his personal philosophy on what he calls, the sustainability paradox. 
“Nowadays there’s no way around the sustainability paradox, the difference between eco-awareness and eco-behaviour. What we know we should do and what we actually do”. Mark tells us. “Most people are aware of the state of our planet and the destructive direction we’re moving towards. Most of us know what’s sustainable and what’s not, what’s a sustainable purchase and what’s not, but this awareness doesn’t always translate in behavioral changes, on the contrary…”. 
We’re going through an evolution, not a revolution. Every day we take a small step in the right direction, but we’re moving slowly
Mark is one of those passionate entrepreneurs who, on a daily basis, strives to create something green, not wash something green. “We’re going through an evolution, not a revolution”, Komrad #1, Mark, continues, “Every day we take a small step in the right direction, but we’re moving slowly”. 
“The business models are already here, but the costumer isn’t following”, Mark says. He believes clear legislation and objective certification can be the key elements in breaking the sustainability paradox. 
“The EU digital product passport is a good start”, he believes, “the consumer will have the certainty that they’re buying a product that’s part of the solution, not the problem. They’ll receive clarity regarding materials, production and circularity. This will also give sustainable entrepreneurs and creators a positive boost”. 
He highlights the power of numbers: “legislation and certification must be pushed by big and small companies alike; the entire industry has to form a united front on this. Together we must finally take action against companies and brands sustaining social misconduct”.