Rombaut’s social team is evidently having a lot of fun. Scrolling through its Instagram, you’ll find shoes in the back of pickup trucks, shoes parked in parking lots, and shoes as part of disturbing AI-generated imagery. It’s all eye-catching and all a bit confusing.
This world of contrasts is becoming a distinct style for the brand founded by Mats Rombaut in 2013 — it’s a style that encourages you to look twice.
Its SS23 offering is no different. The hyper-futuristic shoe designs seem at odds with the natural and sustainable materials from which they’re made. How can objects so shiny be Earth-friendly? Is that the forest floor or is it a shoe? Questions, questions.
Time for some answers.
Rombaut uses a host of different materials for its footwear. And it’s all vegan. For its take on classics like the loafer and derby, the leather-like look is achieved using apple skins. Apple waste from the food industry in Northern Italy is dried and reduced to a powder. It’s then coagulated with PU (polyurethane, a plastic used to replicate leather) and coated onto a cotton base to give the shoes their grainy texture. These shoes, plus many others in the collection, sit on the clunky, toothy Boccaccio outsole, which is made from 100 percent TPU.
Other kicks such as the Nucleo, are made with a pleather (plastic leather) upper to achieve that shiny look. The soles on these use a mixture of recycled TPU and Bloom EVA, made with algae.
There are a couple of denim-like shoes too. But of course, nothing’s as it seems with Rombaut. Instead, these are “faux-denim” shoes, made by printing the patterns and color of denim onto recycled polyester. They’re even pre-distressed. Denim production uses (and wastes) a lot of water, and maybe that’s why Rombaut has chosen a fake alternative. Or maybe it’s just because Rombaut likes to make you look twice.
Elsewhere, Rombaut continues to push the boundaries of traditional footwear materials and textures. There’s a satin ballerina plimsoll with an elasticized collar and a very fluffy number, that almost looks like moss. (Made you look again.)
Rounding out the collection are some asymmetric bags, also made with apple leather, and organic cotton faux-denim jeans and tops.
For an industry that’s still so attached to destructive luxury materials like leather, Rombaut provides a breath of fresh, sustainable air. It’s perhaps why Rombaut is proving so popular. That and its footwear looks like nothing else on the market.
Take a look (take as many as you need) at the SS23 collection on Rombaut’s site.