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In Vietnam’s shoes

What journey have your shoes already taken, before they helped you make your own journey?

What ethical issues could we be stepping into? 

This year I was lucky enough to travel to Hanoi, Vietnam.

We found ourselves venturing through the bustling market streets into what was one of the country’s bases for shoe and textile trade.

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The price of shoes back home in the UK has got to a shockingly cheap level. You don’t need me to tell you how little a new pair of heels for the weekend could cost you. Many people my age share my guilt of the huge amount of shoes I know I have piled up at home which I will rarely wear.

For me shoes have always been something I’ve obsessed about since a young age. Maybe it’s the story of cinderella and the slipper, or my belief in being able to judge a person’s character based on their shoes…Whatever the story, shoes are something we cannot live without but which are not often seen in the ethical and sustainable news.

This particular building bought together manufacturers, buyers, bidders, negotiators, families and the curious…

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My eyes were fascinated by the colours and sparkles of piles of new shoes (much like they would be in Topshop) but also by the people. The media tells us that fashion affects a huge chain of people, yet here they were, some of the faces in front of my eyes.

Seeing these faces made me confront the deeper story of fashion. These families depend on fashion as a trade, often a controversial debate when we consider how to work towards fair trade which still ensures efficient trade exists for those who depend on it.

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These textile manufacturers had hoped we were buyers. The quality of the fabrics assured me the destination they were headed for was very different to where they lay now.

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Hats. Another aspect of fashion which is seemingly invisible in the ethical and sustainable fashion media. Let’s even begin to use our heads on this issue…. (terrible joke)

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As I stepped out of the building and then eventually through the door of Topshop Oxford Street, I thought: How can we link these steps together? How can I link back to the story behind my shoes when I look at those beautiful heels on the shop shelf?

The shoes we walk in have the ability to take us to unimaginable places. Next time you buy a new pair of shoes, before you let them take you on a new journey, think of the journey those shoes have already been on.

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