With her company ShoeRise, Caro Peirs used to guide other footwear brands on the path towards socially and ecologically responsible entrepreneurship. Yet in 2019, she decided to wow the world with her own shoe label: Tropas. Peirs describes herself as a shoe designer slash social worker, wanting to create shoes that really make a difference – both for the women who wear them (and use them to express themselves) and the craftsmen who produce them.

To make good on her mission, Peirs focuses on four aspects. First all, Tropas uses discarded jeans (which are washed and processed in sheltered workshops in Sint-Niklaas and Dendermonde) and designs for disassembly, so the shoes can be easily repaired or reused. The outsoles are attached without glue or chemicals to ensure that the rubber can be reused to make new outsoles.

Secondly, the team produces its tote bags in Belgium, while the shoes themselves are made in a small family-run factory in Spain, because Peirs was unable to find a Belgian manufacturer who could get to work with her leftover fabrics. The designer pays her Spanish partners frequent visits to ensure decent working conditions. Thirdly, the shoe brand provides employment to social organisations, and finally, it reduces its use of chemicals to an absolute minimum and aims to ban chemicals altogether in the near future.

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