Josefin Liljeqvist Improves Global Animal Protection With Luxury Footwear
Combining technology, transparency and craftsmanship, luxury fashion tech brand Josefin Liljeqvist aims to improve animal protection globally and achieve a more sustainable ecosystem. This fall, they’re launching fully traceable leather shoe ANDREW.
Josefin Liljeqvist is a footwear designer and lifelong supporter of animal rights. After working more than a decade within the fashion industry, she decided she couldn’t be part of it anymore if she didn’t contribute with something of real value. She wanted change; a revolution. The answer tured out to be a namesake luxury fashion tech label that even before launch has received awards and a lot of attention both on the global fashion scene and at home.
Beginning of July, Josefin Liljeqvist participated in the FASHIONSUSTAIN conference (a part of Berlin Fashion Week) presenting the logistic chain that supports their first product – a men’s dress shoe named ANDREW. What’s special about the sleek footwear is that every piece of leather is uniquely coded and thereby traceable back to the exact animals – all coming out of Swedish KRAV or eco certified farms – via a custom built software system called Responsible Systems. About 50% of the leathers are also tanned at the world’s only eco-certified tannery, Tärnsjö Garveri, in Sweden.
By combining technology, transparency and craftsmanship, they believe this idea will result in improved global animal protection, as well as a more sustainable ecosystem. The project has been in development since 2015, and the first piece of super luxe footwear (retailing at €2,799) is scheduled to launch this fall. Josefin lets us in on all the details.
How did you come up with the idea for ANDREW?
– When I was working as a fundraiser for WWF, circa 2015, I had multiple people coming up to me in the streets of Stockholm telling me I was a bad person, pointing out that “humans should work for humans, not animals.” That’s when I realized that by changing the way we communicate around animal protection, targeting new people, we can make a bigger impact, and a positive change for the animals. The fashion industry, with its massive global influence, felt like the perfect platform for my objective: to improve global animal protection using footwear.
Would you like to share the process of developing and producing it?
– In August, it’s been 3 years of research and development; looking into how the global leather supply chain works, how we need to change it in order to keep the animals life quality at heart, and keep it traceable throughout the entire supply chain.
– It has also been about finding partnerships locally, nationally and internationally in order to maintain the highest quality from cow to craftsman, and this has taken a lot of time. At the start, very few believed in the project, so it took me one and a half years just to find the shoemaker. Now, he happens to be one of the best in the world so, looking back, it was definitely worth the wait.
– The most important, and difficult, thing in the process is to connect the numbers we use for the cows throughout production. It takes a massive load of extra work and time to guarantee the right cow-code for the right shoe. Our first customer has now waited for around 11 months, but my goal is to deliver the first Andrews this fall.
Tell us about your software, Responsible Systems, and why it’s valuable for the consumer to be able to trace the leather in a shoe back to the animal?
– Responsible Systems was created because I believe we need to be able to ask questions, learn and have a look for ourselves. With Responsible Systems, we allow the end customer to become a checkpoint in the leather’s traceability. For me, that has been the most important thing in this project: educating about where the leather really comes from, and the story it carries. This systems helps with that; education.
In what ways can leather footwear improve global animal protection – and sustainability?
– I’d say this is connected to my previous answer: through education. By understanding that a leather shoe like Andrew carries stories from seven animals, we educate people to think differently when it comes to leather, showing that life has happened.
– By using Responsible System, we’re collecting very specific information about the supply chain. The long term goal is to use that information and create a new global price model standard for industrial farming. This price model rewards kindness, digitally. If you are kind to your animal, you will automatically get better revenue.
– This way of collecting information, and a new price model, will ultimately help us create 18 global goals that will show and economically prove that animals and their welfare is key in a sustainable ecosystem.
What do you believe to be the most important steps for brands to take in order so push innovation and take footwear design and production to the next level?
– For the brand or company to make “impact” a vital part of the business plan. Not something you look to for PR or short term change, but something that is as important as revenue, innovation and profit. In order to change the ecosystems of fashion, we must look at impact, business and innovation as part of a whole.
What are your plans for your brand going forward?
– Right now, we’re preparing for launch, and are trying our hardest to meet a deadline set to end of October–beginning of November. I’m also looking into some fantastic partnerships that would take our brand to the next level, so I hope that it will all be finalized during this fall. We are also preparing to introduce our new sneaker JAMES and boot RIPLEY, their final quality testing is just about to begin.
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