Before going on his OE, Ben Galloway crafted some hardy sandals from an old pair of jeans. And after three years of travelling through countries full of rubbish, the idea for Trash Footwear came to him.
Trash Footwear’s tagline, ‘Rather fancy rubbish’, says it all. Each pair is crafted in Raglan’s Soul Shoes factory from salvaged materials otherwise destined for landfill – all sourced from local businesses.
“All the materials that are used are really good quality stuff that’s otherwise going to get thrown away,” says Ben. “It’s about trying to be more resourceful with what’s already around.” Ben continues to refine the brand’s range and shoe-making processes, but the ever-changing materials ensures each pair of Trash Footwear shoes is unique.
At the moment he’s using old conveyor belts to make soles, while the straps are crafted from coffee sacks, used clothing, fabric offcuts or car upholstery, depending on the look. These are then lined with reclaimed leather for comfort and strength.
Ben says a lot of businesses have been very generous in their donations. “I get quite a few large offcuts of upholstery fabrics that I use for the tops of the straps. Some of them are pretty funky and add a different aesthetic.”
Each pair of shoes is handcrafted, with a pair of jandals taking about an hour to create. Ben has also designed a winter range of footwear which features durable boots with motorcycle-tyre soles.
Ben hopes his idea catches on to other products, especially those which are usually imported. “It seems kind of crazy that something comes from the other side of the world when it can be made right here in New Zealand,” he says. “What I’m doing could be done by so many more people. There are so many ideas and so many options for making a massive range of products.”
Trash Footwear is available in selected stores, local markets, and at its online store.