Whenever I meet other parents and tell them I own a kids’ footwear brand, there’s usually a common theme to the conversation. There’s something about the experience of repeatedly buying expensive new shoes for little feet, only for them to be outgrown in a matter of weeks, that makes parents pretty vocal – and understandably so.

But, as parents who want to protect our kids’ developing feet, we know it’s not something we can (or want to) skimp on. The cost isn’t really the crux of the issue; it’s the huge waste factor and impact on the planet that get so many of us riled up.

As I’ve mentioned previously on the blog, approximately 300 million shoes reach landfill every year, and that number is increasing all the time. It’s a shocking statistic, driven by a few different factors:

  1. Many kids’ shoes are poor quality and wear out quickly and, even worse, they are made from non-biodegradable plastics
  1. Children outgrow their shoes a LOT ( it can be up to four times a year from age 1-3!) even when they’re sized with growing room.
  1. Many kids’ footwear brands offer heavily ‘gendered’ styles. You know the drill: pink and pretty for girls, dull and rugged for boys. Leaving aside the damaging impact of gendered clothing on our children for a moment, this also makes the shoes far less hand-me-downable. (The same applies to mainstream designs that are trend-led and therefore ‘out of fashion’ by the next season.)

These factors were the source of my own frustration as a shoe-shopping mum, and they’re what drove me to set up Zig + Star in the first place. If I had to sum up our mission in one sentence, it would be this:


To make kids’ footwear more sustainable, for the good of our children and our planet.


Here’s four ways we’re working towards that mission: 

  1. Our expandable kids’ shoes grow with your child.

The first thing to explain is that this is not just about sizing our shoes to include growing room.

We build growing room all our shoes, as all kids’ shoe brands should. But we go further than that. Every single pair of our children’s shoes and sandals is designed to be expanded and adjusted as your child grows, which extends the life of the shoes further still.

With our shoes and boots, we achieve this with our game-changing Good-To-Grow midsole: a hidden layer that can be removed to add an extra half size of growing room to the shoe. Depending on the age of your child, this could equate to anything from an extra three months’ wear to even an extra year’s wear.

 Our kids’ sandals all feature adjustable straps across the front of the foot, at the instep and at the heel, which allows you to buy the size that will last the longest without worrying that they won’t be a secure fit.

Our expandable kids’ footwear has all been developed in collaboration with one of the UK’s leading last makers, Springline, and an expert paediatric podiatrist to ensure the sizing and shape is nothing less than perfect for little feet. Whether your child is wearing our shoes, boots or sandals, their feet will be cocooned in second-to-none comfort and support and you’ll have peace of mind that every pair is podiatrist approved.


  1. Our kids’ shoes adapt to fit different foot widths and depths

As well as giving you more length for growth, removing the midsole from our shoes or adjusting the straps on our sandals also creates extra width and depth. If your child has wide feet or a high instep, you can easily adapt the fit for them. This makes our shoes accessible to everyone – even parents who usually struggle to buy shoes for their kids online (and as a result are then frustratingly restricted in terms of the options available in traditional retailers).

In terms of sustainability, this means we can produce all our shoes on the same last (one for infants and one for juniors) with one optimal width and a shape that works for growing feet. The whole process of getting shoes to fit is simplified, production waste is minimised and it’s much easier to pass our shoes on to be worn and loved by another child when you’re done.


  1. Our kids’ shoes are built to last

Children certainly know how to put shoes through their paces, right? But one sure-fire way to divert kids’ shoes away from landfill is to extend their life as much as possible. Our expandable, adjustable fit is a HUGE part of how we’re achieving this, but it’s equally key that we source materials that deliver on quality, longevity and recyclability.

 Across our collection we use premium, chrome-free leathers which are incredibly durable and breathable (breathability is also super important for kids’ shoes, as it means heat and moisture can escape). And all of our outsoles are natural rubber, chosen because it’s lightweight, biodegradable and extremely hardwearing.

In short, even with our expandable design ensuring our shoes fit your child for way longer than average, you’ll still find they’ll be outgrown long before they’re outworn. Your friends and family will thank-you for buying our hand-me-down-able shoes!


  1. Our kids’ shoes are unisex and timeless

I’ve long been frustrated with the outdated, limiting and damaging gender stereotypes that are EVERYWHERE in mainstream kids’ fashion. It’s a theme I talk about a lot on Instagram (come say hi!) and I know SO many parents feel the same.

 My passion for giving children choice is a huge part of the reason why all our kids’ shoes are gloriously gender neutral. But actually, creating unisex kids’ footwear also feeds right back into our primary mission to make it more sustainable, because it means there are also no limitations in terms of who you can pass our shoes on to when you’re done with them.

I also purposely veer our collections away from throwaway trends and fast-fashion looks. My aim is to strike the perfect balance of classic and cool, so I choose always-in-style shapes, colours and patterns that have universal appeal and will never look dated - leopard print, metallics and easy-wear colours that go with everything and anything. Because by maximising wear and giving kids the freedom to be whoever they want to be, we’re doing better by our planet and our children.


We are doing all we can to build sustainability into everything we produce. And when you are finally ready to say goodbye to our shoes, we now offer a take back scheme where you will get £5 off a future purchase! And when we receive your old shoes back, we use one of our 3 circular initiatives

DONATE - we will help you send your old shoes to people who most need them, with the help of Sals shoes, and continue your shoes on their journey to help another child

RESALE - if the shoes can be refurbished to a reasonable standard, we will aim to resell them, extending their life even further

RECYCLE - we will recycle them free of charge to prevent them ending in landfill 


Join us on our mission to make kids' shoes more sustainable!

 Ali x


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