ECCO Shoes: Ethical Designs and Innovative Processes*

ECCO shoes are a particularly interesting case study in the footwear industry; if anything, from the standpoint of how the company functions and operates. Founded in the early 1960s by Karl Toosbuy in Denmark, ECCO has always strived to create high-quality, beautifully crafted leather shoes and accessories in a variety of styles, ranging from Chelsea to desert to walking boots, for men, women and children. 

ECCO is unique in being the only shoe manufacturer that owns and controls every step of the shoe-making process, allowing them monitor the impact of their actions at every level and change them accordingly. This means that they can integrate their environmental and ethical practices into every manufacturing stage of their shoes. In addition, the company tries to employ local talent to help create meaningful work for people in the community.

As examples of ECCO’s commitment to improving their ethical and environmental practices, the company has installed a new lighting concept in their stores that reduced electricity consumption by 35%, opened an energy efficient tannery where the energy consumption is 20% lower than the average tannery, began to install energy-efficient tannery drums in their tanneries, which cut electricity consumption by 48%, and began using tannery waste as bio-fuel, cutting the amount of waste by 50%.

ECCO’s products have been designed with functionality in mind as well as aiming to achieve a satisfying level of design. As well as producing high-end design footwear for formal situations, the brand invests their efforts in creating practical and comfortable footwear. Each type of design is developed separately from other designs and developed on a standalone basis, so a hiking boot will be approached with a need to make it durable, protective and supportive, but also light, cool and comfortable to wear.