SUSTAINABILITY


 

Sustainability

 
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The Philosophy behind

In response to the growing urban existence, Terhi Pölkki emphasizes craftsmanship, timeless design and environmental consciousness in her work.

The core of our sustainability thinking arises from longevity. To achieve that, we want to make shoes where beautiful, timeless design and long-lasting high quality materials meet.

THE DESIGN PROCESS

 

The Terhi Pölkki Design Studio is based in Helsinki, Finland.

Terhi chooses to reinvent design rather than constantly producing new items. 

Terhi’s designs are carving out a new definition of sustainable luxury, refined craft.

Her frequent visits to the factory ensure the best, handpicked materials, the fitting and the high quality for our customers.

 

Terhi's shoe design process

 

  1. Design aesthetic and colours of the season 
  2. Fitting, lasts and comfort
  3. Choosing the best high quality materials


Terhi's design philosophy starts from practicality. We think that using shoes for a long time guarantees also sustainability. So shoes need to look nice and feel comfortable or otherwise they will be left unused. We make the ecological decisions for the customer already when designing the shoes. 

Along the visits we keep in touch with the factory owner and the people working there in a daily basis and they have become a very important part of our family of shoes.

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Made in Europe

All our shoes are manufactured in experienced factories, which offer good work conditions for their employees.

Portugal 

Our leather shoes are manufactured in a family-owned factory in Sao Joao da Madeira, Portugal, very close to Porto city. We have long-term partnership with the shoe factory since 2011.

Terhi wants to build a long-lasting relationship with our partners and try to find the best suppliers for each component of the shoe to ensure the quality, the best working conditions both parties and to keep it as transparent as possible. We are working directly with the factories, without any unnecessary agents or middlemen.

Portugal was a natural choice for Terhi because of the high-quality of craftsmanship and a long history in shoe making. The factory is committed to operate with the Terhi Pölkki brand's sustainable guidelines and values. The shoes are made, by using locally sourced components and leather materials. The local production also minimize logistic and delivery risks. 

The main leather tannery is in Alcanena, Portugal. There we source all of our vegetable tanned leather, which is called "OakLeather”. All rubber soles are sourced from the supplier that is located only 15 minutes away from the factory in Oliveira de Azeméis. Both of the suppliers are trusted partners since the brand was established in 2011. All shoes are manufactured from materials and raw materials approved by EU legislation.

Rain boots

We are producing our rain boots in Partizánske, Slovakia. The rain boots are manufactured in the factory that history goes back to 1939. Our rain boots are made from high quality all-natural rubber. The boot is then ‘baked’ in the vulcanisation tank for an hour at 140C. The shoe is then finished by precise manual work completed by skilled craftsmen. The Anton rain boot is made of 100% natural rubber. The production process uses renewable natural rubber resources and all leftover material is recycled back into the process. Our contract manufacturer is EN ISO 9001 quality management certified and 14001 environmental management certified. 

 

 

THE MATERIALS

We want our handmade shoes to be worn for a long time. Timeless design and good materials will guarantee that our shoes are comfortable and durable.

All raw materials we use are made in Europe. 85% are made in low-risk countries such as Portugal and Germany, 15% in Italy.

At least 75% of the raw materials we use are environmentally friendly materials.

Our main material is a by-product cow leather from the meat industry. Leather is a durable, breathable and high quality shoe material. By caring for it right, it is also long-lasting, and therefore reduces the environmental impact of our products.

All the vegetable tanned leather we use in our shoes comes from Alcanena & Sao Vicente Pereira, Portugal. The weatherproof suede we use in our Autumn collections comes from Oehler tannery in Marbach, Germany. The Oehler leather is water repellent suede and therefore great for Autumn weather in Northern countries.

Spring 2020 we did canvas sneakers from organic cotton. The organic cotton comes from Prato, Italia.

Autumn 2020 we launched new innovative materials such as rewool - recycled wool felt that is made in Montemurlo, Italy.

The sole material that consists 30% coffee beans and 70% natural rubber is produced locally in Santa Maria de Feira, Portugal.

All merino wool we use is mulesing free.


Uppers

  • Vegetable tanned leather 80%
  • Suede 4%
  • Organic Cotton 9%
  • Merino Wool 3%
  • Rewool Felt 4%

Outsoles

  • Natural crepe Rubber 20% ( Zero waste )
  • Leather 28%
  • Wood 24%
  • Natural Rubber 20%
  • Coffee beans 3%
  • Other 5%
 

Eco-Leather Tanneries

We use two leather tanneries; Carvalhos and Curtumes Aveneda, both based in Portugal.

We use since 2011 OakLeather from Carvalhos Leather tannery in Alcanena. To define the OakLeather range we need to consider two ecological guidelines: the production process and the product itself. 

Tanning is a process that prevents leather from decaying, decomposing and oxidising. Usually the tanning process includes chrome and other hard metals but instead of these vegetable tanned leather is tanned with natural materials such as tree bark.

In order to achieve an ecological product the raw materials (fresh Iberian hides) must be cold storage, without any other preserving agents, a chrome and metal free tannage (wet-white). Along with the use of metal free dye stuffs and water based finishes. All the OakLeather range is prepared to obtain the Chrome Free and Metal Free certification. 

Biocouru ecological leather is from Curtumes Aveneda tannery in Sao Vicente Pereira.

Biocouro is the trade name of a wet-white based leather (metal free) with a wet-end process specially developed to improve its biodegradability. Therefore, these products are suitable for use in footwear, in particular for lining upper, when the shoe does not have lining.

The standard method used for measure the compostability of Biocouro was ISO 20200:2004, which determines the degree of disintegration under simulating composting conditions.

Biocouro is a biodegradable product. According to ISO 20200:2004, 100% of disintegrability is obtained in less than 15 days.

We are working towards for a new and innovative materials. Step by step to more sustainable future.

 

 
 
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ABOUT THE CRAFTMANSHIP

As a sustainable shoe brand we want to share our values with our customers and be more transparent in everything we do. Our production meets high quality of craftsmanship and all our components are hand-picked personally by Terhi.

All of our leather shoes are handmade in Portugal. The artisans have years of experience and they are committed to the high quality of craftsmanship. 

Meet Carla and Jorge

Carla works at the stitching section in the factory. Jorge lasts the uppers and attaches the outsoles. They both have been working for the brand several years now.

 

LONG – TERM COOPERATION

Factory partnership and visits

Terhi has worked with numerous shoe factories in her career but once she chose the current partner for her brand she first visited Portugal in 2011 to meet the owner and to check the working conditions of the employees. The most important thing was to find the best manufacturer for women's leather shoe category and to ensure the high quality of craftsmanship. The key factor was also to ensure the high standard of skills to implement Terhi's vision and designs to actual products.

The manufactory for our leather shoes is the same family-owned factory she started working with in 2011.

It is a small factory with about 20 employees. 90% of the workers stayed the same during the past 10 years. They are working under good conditions and Portugal’s legislation guarantees human rights and proper wages based on EU legislation.

The cooperation with the rain boot factory started in 2019. The Slovakian manufacturer has EN ISO 9001 quality management certification and 14001 environmental management certification. Environmental issues were an important factor when expanding our product category. 

Over the years Terhi has built a special relationship with the manufacturers. She also works directly with them without agents to keep open conversation and transparency in her manufacture process.

Terhi visits the factories regularly ensuring high quality of products and working conditions to ensure a transparency and good working conditions in our manufactories.

Quality control 

Terhi is going twice a year to Portugal to the factory to check the working conditions and stay in a good and close relationship with the factory.

 

AVOIDANCE OF OVERPRODUCTION

 

The materials are ordered based on the use, all styles are made by order, this way we can avoid leftovers.

Our production is flexible, so they can react on demand.

We try to find the perfect lasts and soles that are comfortable and have a good fit so we can use them again and create classics.

From our rubber the leftovers are saved and collected so they can be reused and there is zero waste.

 

PACKING AND SHIPPING

For us it is important to give as much information as possible of our shoes, about the materials and fit so our customers don’t have to return because of a wrong size.  We can help you to find the right shoe for you and avoid returns. We offer a 14 day return policy, but our aim is to minimize unnecessary returns and therefore  shippings back and forward.

All of our shoes are packed into shoeboxes made of 100% recyclable cardboard and wrapped into silk paper to protect the shoes from external hits and to keep the extra moisture away from damaging the materials. We do not use plastic in our packaging.

Our shoe cartons and boxes are made in a carton factory only short distance of 100 metres from the shoe factory in Sao Joao da Madeira. The local production avoid long shipping processes, minimize logistic and delivery risks. 

We offer at our flagship store recyclable and FSC certified paper bags for our customers. FSC (The Forest Stewardship Council) promotes environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable forest management all over the world.

Our online orders are packed with 100% recyclable craft paper bags that we seal with tape. We encourage customers in returns, to be sent in the same packaging if possible.

Greener online deliveries

We work on finding and offering the best possible delivery options to our customers. For domestic online orders have now two options;

Posti Green, https://www.posti.com/vastuullisuus/vastuullisuus-postissa/

DHL Express GoGreen https://www.dhl.com/content/dam/dhl/global/dhl-global-forwarding/documents/pdf/dhl-glo-dgf-gogreen-portfolio-flyer-sep18.pdf

Energy

62% of our electricity we use is generated from renewable resources, such as wind or solar energy.

 

SHOE CARE AND REPAIR SERVICE

With our shoe care guide, we want to show you how to best care for your shoes so that they will last as long as possible and give you long-lasting pleasure. We design our products to be both durable and as sustainable as possible. Whether or not the product can ultimately fulfill these characteristics is also up to you! Because even a Terhi Pölkki product is not sustainable in the long run if, in the worst case, it will not been taken care at all. That's why we would like to support you as much as possible during the use phase. 

Our in-store and customer service team is also available if you have questions about how to best handle a repair.

We also offer a repair service to our customers so that they can bring or send their shoes to us and we will have them re-soled to ensure the shoe to last longer.

It's always better trying to repair shoes and extend its life before replacing it.

To give your shoes a rest, it is Important to rotate them every day.

By giving your shoes a rest of at least one day, it can help to extend the life of your shoes.

They need time to breath, especially when you are wearing them the whole day.

 

SUSTAINABLE FUTURE

The footwear industry is in a constant process of developing new, more environmentally friendly materials and manufacturing processes to become more sustainable.

We are in a constant development trying out new innovations and new materials so we can grow.

We challenge ourselves everyday to become better so we can offer our customers a high-quality and sustainable shoe.

One of our new materials we found during our research 2020 is biodegradable leather called ’Famu’ and our mulesing free rewool - recycled felt.

Future goals

Our main goal is to make shoes better. Therefore we will be looking for new innovative and more environment friendly materials without compromising the design and high quality.

We also want to take the recycling and reuse of the shoes into account more. This is not an easy step but we will for example do campaigns to collect, repair and care the shoes and find a reuse for them for example from nonprofit organizations and charity. We will also give shoes for school projects. 

All cotton we use will be GOTS certified organic cotton, at least 50% of all materials we use will be recycled till the end of 2021.

We want to increase the energy we use up to 100% renewable energy by the end of the year 2022.

We aim not to use any lambskin leather by the end of 2023.

 

 

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