New York-based entrepreneur Joshua Rudd was traveling in Peru when, thanks to a random meeting, he became aware of the economic hardship faced by many people in that country. The episode gave him an idea: to create a sneaker design project that would source raw materials such as wild rubber from the Amazon forest and organic cotton from the South of Peru. That’s how Project Piola was born and now, after a successful Kickstarter campaign, it’s ready to walk.

The project started taking shape back in 2010. Joshua then enlisted the talent of a team of French designers including Eugène Riconneaus (Loreto, Ica, Iberia), Florence Astrié (Slippery Elm) and Felix Caudron (Madre de Dios) to produce a line of stylish fair trade footwear that may remind some of the casual-chic of the Spanish shoemaker Camper. The product has been developed according to the framework established by the UN and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), who are partners of Project Piola.

One of the main social points of the project is to give producers a market, which they don’t have on a local level. Piola pays rubber and cotton producers between three to five times the market price, and the money can be diverted back to savings and tools.

The sneakers have a clean and simple design somewhere between sneakers and dress shoes, and come in unique color combinations. Besides rubber and cotton, they also feature animal derivatives such as leather and alpaca wool.

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