‘WALK A MILE’: ZALANDO’S JOURNEY TOWARDS INCLUSIVE FOOTWEAR
Words by Anano Shalamberidze
"A window into the world of size-inclusive footwear that tells the stories of those pioneering a more diverse industry."
In a world of green-washing and fabricated inclusivity promises, Zalando’s “Walk a Mile” is a breath of fresh air.
Launched by Zalando, the ‘Walk a Mile’ campaign is dedicated to those who struggle to find footwear that both fits their taste and accommodates their sizing. Zalando celebrated the launch of the new inclusive collection in Berlin on May 5th.
Joined by the campaign stars, brand representatives, and international press, Zalando gathered us all in Berlin to discover the campaign, meet the creatives behind the initiative and celebrate a step taken forward towards an inclusive future.
Zalando, a leading European fashion and lifestyle platform launched ‘Walk a Mile’, a new inclusive shoe collection from designer brands Filling Pieces, Rejina Pyo, Holzweiler, MISBHV, Elleme, GCDS and Eckhaus Latta. This collection puts designer brands in the spotlight for their pioneering work in shoes that offer a wider range of sizes – from size 35 to 46. Zalando’s drive for leading the campaign was fueled by numerous stories of those who have voiced concerns about the lack of inclusivity within shoe size ranges. The collaborator brands were chosen by the Zalando team not only for their creativity and favorable position within the industry but more importantly for their dedication to the cause. The brands have expressed responsibility to not only introduce size-inclusive footwear within the context of the campaign but to continue the commitment and hopefully encourage other players in the industry to do the same.
The founders and designers of the brands in the likes of GIULIANO CALZA, GUILLAUME PHILIBERT, JINGJING FAN, NATALIA MACZEK, REJINA PYO, ANDREAS HOLZWEILER, SUSANNE HOLZWEILER & MARIA SKAPPEL HOLZWEILER, and MIKE ECKHAUS & ZOE LATTA were all personally involved in the design process of the collection. The beautiful installation during the “Walk a Mile” presentation in Berlin showcased the technical process behind creating molds for footwear. According to GCDS’s GIULIANO CALZA, designing inclusive shoewear has always come with complications: “When I tried to launch these shoes in larger sizes, I ran into a lot of production problems: the retailers weren’t interested, and yet I put them on my e-commerce in a small quantity. I wanted everyone who loves GCDS creations to be able to wear these shoes and enjoy them as much as I do design them. When Zalando came up with the offer, I got very excited, because I knew that the platform’s strong community and wide reach could help me get these shoes to more people. I am grateful to be able to share my design with a wider audience.”
“Footnotes are to publishing what size-inclusivity is to fashion: a vital component, yet often overlooked. That’s why Zalando’s ‘Walk a Mile’ Gallery places size-inclusive footwear front and centre.”
Shot by TOM BLESCH and styled by GLEN MBAN, the eye-catching campaign images feature industry superstars and talents who within their respective fields have always fought for inclusivity. The talents for this campaign were carefully selected based on their background and their values. Zalando wanted authentic representation by engaging talents close to the shoe size theme – the transgender community – SLIM SOLEDAD and RAYA MARTIGNY, cis women with larger shoe sizes – MAGGIE MAURER, and cis men with gender fluid fashion expression – REECE KING.
“I was dreaming of finding shoes for me and high heels in my size. And now that I see that some people are putting effort into designing amazing shoes, that makes me really happy”RAYA MARTIGNY
Being lucky enough to be seated in front of one of the campaign stars RAYA MARTIGNY at the beautiful dinner hosted by Zalando at Berlin’s Kant-Garage, I got a first-row insight into the consumer’s side of the story and RAYA’s own experience with lack of size inclusivity within the industry. Over dinner, the campaign star spoke of instances of her being robbed of opportunities within fashion due to the industry not having necessary size ranges available for their models. She went on to share overheard stories of the complications that come with developing shoe molds of all sizes. She feels grateful to be part of something that will hopefully nudge the industry towards a better inclusive future.
Numéro had an opportunity to briefly chat with GCDS’s GIULIANO CALZA regarding the campaign:
What was the brand’s initial impression about Zalando’s initiative and what does it mean for GCDS to participate in “Walk a Mile”?
the initial impression of GCDS regarding Zalando’s “Walk a Mile” initiative was one of excitement and admiration. I was very thrilled to see a major player in the fashion industry take such a bold step towards inclusivity by extending women’s shoe sizes up to 46. It showed that Zalando understands the importance of gathering to a diverse range of customers and embracing different body types. Joining forces with like-minded individuals and brands who share our vision of inclusivity, allows us to showcase our commitment to breaking barriers and celebrating diversity in the fashion world.
What were the first steps for getting the project off the ground for the brand?
To get the project off the ground, I wanted to ensure that our designs resonated with the initiative’s goals and values while also offering one of the GCDS design that embodied the unique GCDS aesthetic.
How were the shoe models chosen for “Walk a Mile”?
I was very sure from the beginning to push the idea of the “morso” cause I knew was one of the most wanted designs. Offering both open shoes and boots for those who don’t like to show so much of the toes!
Do you think the campaign will have a lasting effect on the brand’s long-term goals to become more inclusive?
We are proud to be a part of this initiative, and we believe it will have a lasting impact on our brand’s journey towards becoming always more inclusive and representative of all individuals. But it takes always the same effort to develop a durable project and effect. By actively participating in initiatives that promote inclusivity, we can have a stronger connection with our audience and establish ourselves as advocates for change.
In conclusion, the “Walk a Mile” project by Zalando resonates deeply with me as a young designer and generally someone who struggled as a younger self to feel the possibility of choice.
“The road to inclusion starts with walking a mile in someone else’s shoes and the aptly named ‘Walk a Mile’ campaign is part of our efforts to do just that.”LENA-SOPHIE RÖPER
DESIGNER & LUXURY DIRECTOR, ZALANDO
With their ‘Walk a Mile’ campaign, Zalando hopes to encourage brands worldwide to go beyond the pre-molded industry standards and start making changes one step at a time.
The collection is now available exclusively at Zalando in all 25 Zalando markets.