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The Rife Team

Win a pair of socially-conscious sneakers designed by Black UK artists

Lucy speaks with the UK-based Black artists behind a collaboration with sneaker brand Trash Planet

Since their conception, sustainable footwear company Trash Planet have always aimed to disrupt the unethical and unsustainable fast fashion industry. They pride themselves on offering sustainable sneakers that don’t compromise on style or attitude.

From their ethical manufacturing process to their social, political and environmental activism, this brand is actively working towards positive change at every level. One example of this is that for every pair of sneakers purchased, the brand plants 15 trees in Madagascar to offset carbon emissions. Customers can also recycle their old pair of Trash Planet sneakers and receive discount on their next pair.

For their latest project Trash Planet have partnered with three Black UK-based artists: Parys Gardener, a multi-award-winning contemporary digital illustrator based in Bristol; Stacey Olika, a Bristol-based multidisciplinary artist; and Lee Akpareva, an aspiring Fashion/Art Director based in London.

Each artist has designed a pair of sneakers that have been put up as part of a raffle. To enter the draw, people can donate £10 for the sneaker they want and, most importantly, all of the money raised from the raffle will go to the projects of the artist’s choice.

Parys has chosen to donate all of the funds raised to an African Caribbean Culture Venue in Bristol.

Stacey and Lee have chosen to donate all of the funds raised to Black Minds Matter UK.

Click here to enter the raffle. The winner will be selected randomly on the 13/07/20 at 19:00.

Trash Planet founders Jordan Grayson and Holly Boxall say: “Using our sneakers as a platform for change has always been our ambition from the get-go. This is just the beginning, and we hope to promote their work as far as we possibly can and raise a substantial amount for these inspiring projects.”

I spoke with two of the artists involved.

As an artist, why did this collaboration speak to you?

Stacey: As an artist, it is important to be able to communicate an authentic narrative and represent the underrepresented. Trash Planet have put in an incredible amount of effort into telling us the story of fast fashion and what that does for the environment. Seeing the passion and authenticity in the brand, the collaboration felt right.

Parys: As a digital artist, I’m always excited by the prospect of being able to see my work tangibly in the real world. I love the idea of letting people adorn themselves in art and I often print my own work onto t-shirts to sell at events like Black Girl Con. There is just something magical and empowering about celebrating the imagery of Black women through art that you are able to wear. On top of that, collaborating with an ethical and sustainable brand like Trash Planet only adds value to the conversation and ideas around the impact of placing art into the world.

  1. What do you hope comes from this collaboration?

  2. Stacey: Firstly, I hope we raise enough money that supports Black communities and the resources for them to access mental health facilities. Secondly, I hope it inspires Black artists to envision themselves as creators and change-makers. We are incredibly versatile despite the lack of representation in the creative industry so we need to never stop creating because it can lead us to places we never expect. I did not expect to be designing a shoe any time… so girl, this crazy.

Parys: Lots of funds raised for important causes. I hope other brands take Trash Planet’s lead and sees the value in commissioning and collaborating with Black artists. The conversation about sustainability in fashion needs more Black voices and I hope expensive eco-clothes become more accessible to more people.

  1. Tell us about your sneaker design.

  2. Stacey: My sneaker design is inspired by the complexion of Black people, focusing on the richness of our colour and the misinformed notion that we can’t wear it with pride. It being on an essential item symbolises the importance of loving our skin tone.

Parys: My ethos is ‘representation matters,’ and that is what has inspired my design. As an artist I have often thought about experiences of colourism and racism as a child growing up in the UK and how many complex insecurities that can breed. In 2019, I created a portrait to celebrate a young model who was infamously ridiculed and mocked in the media for her dark skin and afro hair in an H&M campaign. In the campaign she is adorning a gold crown. This piece of artwork is what has been transformed into a sneaker for Trash Planet. With shades of warm and luxurious brown faux leathers and royal gold paints and adorned with charms – these sneakers are truly a celebration.

Positive action and social change effects every sector. With so many brands using the Black Lives Matter Movement as a marketing trend, Trash Planet feels like a brand that is authentically doing the work to incite positive change. We love to see it!

Let us know your thoughts of ethical fashion brands and sustainability on our socials media. Click here to enter the raffle. The winner will be selected randomly on the 13/07/20 at 19:00.