When it comes to style and sustainability, it can be difficult to have your cake and eat it too. But with Rombaut, a vegan footwear brand, fashion doesn’t have to come at the expense of being eco-friendly. “I think sustainability needs to be attractive and sexy if it is to work,” says Mats Rombaut, founder of the eponymous brand. “We’d like to say that we make responsible fashion in the best possible way.”
Rombaut first began to look at sustainable solutions in fashion when he was 21 years old, after watching documentaries about pollution and the damaging effects of creating leather goods. “After watching all these documentaries, I decided to make a change,” he reveals. “In the fashion world at the time, no luxury or designer brand produced good-looking vegan shoes.”
When his brand first launched in 2013, Rombaut began to utilize unique materials such as recycled cottons and nylons to achieve these sustainability goals, as well as vegan leather made from discarded apple and pineapple fibres. “We are always looking for materials that are still being developed,” he notes.
For 2022, Rombaut wanted to focus on a small array of products with a high level of design and creativity to offer alongside its core collection.
The brand’s shoes are known to feature eye-catching and unique details, like spiky soles and cowboy-boot-style sneakers, that set it apart from the often dowdy appearance of vegan footwear. No wonder Rombaut’s shoes have become a favourite of fashion darlings including Bella Hadid and Lil Nas X.
These futuristic features are certainly sought-after, so much so that copycats have bubbled with shoes that ripped off both Rombaut’s distinctive upper and the signature sole found on the creations of Angel Chen, another forward-looking footwear designer. But rather than getting upset over this clear plagiarism, Rombaut and Chen saw this as an opportunity for innovation. They jokingly DM’d each other about this incident, which inevitably led to a collaboration.
“It sparked a conversation between me and Angel to turn this ‘fake shoe’ into something fun,” says Rombaut. “Something that conveys both brands’ values of respect.” Soon after, their limited-edition hybrid collection, ANGELBAUT & ROMBACHEN, was born.
This roll-with-the-punches attitude speaks to the daring nature of Rombaut’s brand, where anything can serve as inspiration for great fashion.