we tell you everything about
the choice of the materials
We are constantly on the lookout for new materials, both to be someday able to dispense of any petroleum-based products, and to encourage research and development of innovative, natural materials.
Polyurethane (PU) is a polymer from the petrochemical industry. So why polyurethane? For its elasticity and robustness. Roller skate wheels, condoms and space suits, are made out of it!
It is a good choice for shoes as it’s breathable while being waterproof, which prevents excessive perspiration. It’s flexible and it guarantees comfort. It’s resistant to abrasion and stains. It is also free of phthalates, BPA (bisphenol A), known to be endocrine disruptors.
All our PU-containing textiles are manufactured in Europe and are guaranteed by the OEKO-TEX 100 label. They are produced without CO2 emissions. Their coating makes them breathable, antimicrobial, and anti-mold.
We don’t use PVC which is more polluting and toxic. It releases more volatile organic compounds and toxic components (such as hydrochloric acid) during its combustion.
Microfibre is made from synthetic fibers that are bonded together by the application under heat of a polyurethane resin. It's a non-woven fabric. It offers a "peach skin" look, more or less soft, reminiscent of nubuck and animal velvet leather. Microfibre offers the advantage of a very good breathability and doesn’t warp.
All our microfibres are made in Europe, and are guaranteed by the OEKO-TEX 100 label. They are produced without CO2 emissions. Their coating makes them breathable, antimicrobial, and anti-mold.
STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX
Label of the German independent association, OEKO-TEX certifies the ecological qualities of textiles and a production respectful of its workers. It guarantees the absence of harmful substances for the environment, both during its manufacture and when worn. The tests are done by independent laboratories and incorporate the latest scientific knowledge and legal requirements.
For more information, visit the OEKO-TEX website ↗
Piñatex is a non-woven fabric. It comes from the fibers of the pineapple plant. Cultivated for its flesh in the Philippines — its stem-leaf waste is peeled in order to extract a long fiber, which, aggregated, will become the raw material.
In Spain, this leaf is covered with a PLA coating (polylactic acid), a kind of bioplastic.
PLA has the advantage of being biodegradable and derived from a natural resource. But its degradation would take considerable time in the wild. Alone, it’s recyclable; unfortunately, once associated with pineapple fiber that’s no longer the case. The Ananas Anam team is constantly working to improve its product: a bio-sourced topcoat to improve the biodegradability and recycling of its material is under development.
For more information, visit the Ananas Anam website ↗
Insoles and accessories
Soles sourced locally. Accessories are sourced locally and nickel-free.
A long word about the leather industry
Opacity in this industry is a sine qua non rule. We often think that the skin that is used for our shoes is natural, that it comes from the animals we eat and whose production is less harmful for the environment or humans than faux-leather.
1.4 billion animals are killed every year for their skins; that is twice the European human population. Among these animals are cows, goats and lambs, but also cats and dogs — whose supple and thin skin is very popular for glove making. Not surprisingly, this information is rarely indicated on labels.
Made in France or Made in Italy labels only concern assembly; materials can come from anywhere in the world. And contrary to popular belief, animals killed for their flesh in Europe, raised in abominable conditions, have skins too damaged to be transformed. Thus, a UN report estimates that 80% of the skins used for the leather industry come from developing countries such as Bangladesh, India, China... Barely 2% come from France and only concern high-end products.
Animal skin must then be treated: this is called tanning, a complex and devastating process for the environment. Water intensive and employing dangerous chemicals such as chromium, it’s also very harmful to humans. In those countries, tannery workers are exposed to such products without any protection. Sewage waste is rarely treated, and discharged directly into the wild. An estimated 21 million liters of wastewater, coming from the 150 tanneries of the city, are dumped directly into the river in Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital.
This is not the only stage of the process that is hazardous, as tanning often involves chromium, which, mixed with other chemicals, can be allergenic or carcinogenic. In 2014, the German Federal Office for Consumer Protection estimates that 1 pair of leather shoes in 4 contains chromium trioxide.
For further information, we invite you to read the numerous articles from PETA about the leather industry ↗
There is no obvious choice or perfect solution, but a will to move forward by choosing the least aggressive materials, and to search for and encourage new solutions, by integrating them into our collections.
where are the shoes born?
Our shoes are drawn in the south of France. Design is our business. We do not come from a marketing background and we do not do copies. We offer you the best of our experience. In opposition to mainstream fashion practices, we want to put the product back at the heart of our work. For this we rely on the expertise of two factories. One is in Portugal, south of Porto, where family-run factories have kept skills and know-hows alive. The second one is in Spain, in the hinterland of Alicante, at the heart of the region where stylish shoes were historically made.
From drawing to boxing, the shoes will pass through the hands of dozens of technicians and workers. A shoe is a complex and fascinating product indeed.
First comes the design of "the last shape", which serves as an inverted mold and defines the profile of the shoe, as well as its fit. A mold is necessary for each size.
Then comes the pattern cutting and prototyping part. We try to reduce the number of samples, but sometimes up to 4 are necessary to ensure that the model is as great as it was in our minds! Once the sample is validated, comfort tests are carried out, materials are purchased, and finally, the factory can start the production.
First, the worker cuts, folds and glues the materials.The stitcher, then, puts the different parts together. The upper (the name given to the top of the shoe) is now ready. After threading the laces, it’s time for the big machines to come into play. The operator staples the midsole to the last, shapes the vamp, curves the instep and assembles the quarter. The surplus material is sanded. The heel is fixed and the outsole glued. “The last” can now be removed and used for another round. Our model is almost ready, still in need of inspecting and dressing : the insole is placed, and in the end, the shoe is cleaned, brushed and waxed. Both shoes from a pair are then boxed together in the assembly room.
They are now ready to be worn!
The factory takes two days to make a batch of shoes. They must rest between the different steps, or else the shoe could warp. To set up the various machines from the assembly line to the mold and the last of the model, it takes from half a day to a whole day.
We make very small, one hundred pairs per model batches, in human-sized factories. Our choices have an impact on our price. Labour costs roughly amount to €12 for a single pair. However, it's the right price for skilled workers who make our collections with care.
markup… a thorny issue!
At GURU we believe that the more the consumer is informed about what he is buying, the more the deal will be fair for the manufacturer, for the animals and for the environment.
This is why we tell you everything about our prices, materials, and locations. We also disclose our markup rate, which has generated quite a few reactions. Professionals think that the client isn’t ready to pay for the markup, and that it’s essential not to inform them about it.
Traditionally, in the fashion industry the culture is to make the customer believe that they’re making a bargain, that through discounts, reductions or sales, they’re getting an awesome deal. What comes out asobvious is that the manufacturer has calculated the cost of his "gifts", and that he has taken them into account when estimating his markup. The customer only buys the product at the price at which the manufacturer wanted to sell it. It’s in the manufacturer’s financial interest that the customer doesn’t realise how much of a markup there is on the product.
What do we use the markup for?
The markup funds our ability to produce and sell shoes, as well as it contributes to our legal obligations. Briefly, our markup allows GURU mtp to run.
On each one of our products’ pages we indicate a markup. This reflects our gross margin, which we’ve tried to optimise in order to have a fair final price. For this collection, the markup fluctuates between 2.15 and 2.8 depending on the model. For the shoe industry, this is a very small margin.
We can’t give you the exact detail of each euro spent per model, since it depends on the amount of models sold and their respective markups. However, we can make estimations in order to help you have a better understanding as to what your purchase is financing.
When closing the accounts at year’s end, we will be able to detail the actual allocations of our markup.
The markup finances our fixed and variable expenses. It does not represent our profits.
• Fixed expenses: what we pay every month regardless of our sales: bank account, insurance, accountant, website, rent, equipment, travels and communication.
• Variable expenses: expenses linked to our sales, such as bank fees, packaging, travels and communication.
• Travels and communication costs are part of the yearly-allocated budget but can also vary according to our sales (example: for a vegan fair/show).
To be more precise, here is what our markup pays for, estimated for the Tarentula black model on the basis of 30 pairs sold per month: :
Manufacturing/Factory price: 39,75 €
Selling price: 100 €
VAT: 20 € payed to the government.
Commercial profit: 60,25 €
Banking Commission (eg paypal): 3€
Professional bank account: 1€
Legal fees: 0,50€
Research and materials: 0,50€
Office supplies and documentation: 0,70€
Computer hardware/software: 2.20€
Packaging: 2,50 €
Photo shoots: 2,67€
Travel expenses: 1,67€
Taxes: 1,33 €
Total expenses: 26,27€
This means that for each model sold, 30.33€ are left. This sum will go on to pay for our salarieses. It amounts to a 750€ salary + 172,5€ of social security contributions (during the first year) for 2 co-associates.
At 12 pairs sold, we can cover our expenses, but we won’t be able to pay for our salaries.
At 30 pairs sold, we can be compensated for our work. It clearly isn’t a big salary but it rewards us for our investment in time and love of shoes and nature.
At 60 pairs sold, our brand becomes profitable and provides us with a stable monthly income of about 800 € / net each.
Beyond that, we will be able to readjust our markup in order to give to an even wider community the opportunity to wear shoes that are both ethical and respectful of nature and its animals.
and what about the $$$
You know everything about our materials, how and where the models are made, how we set our margins… but what about the financing?
We didn’t ask for investment funds. We want to stay independent and don’t want an exponential growth. We want to go slowly and take the time to do things well: to make mistakes first and then set them right, to experiment, to make models that are important to us.
We didn’t offer pre-orders or launch a crowdfunding campaign because we didn’t want to be pressed for time and then botch the development of our shoes. Now that they are ready, we wouldn’t want to increase the margin to repay the crowdfunding platform. To offer our models at the best price and with the highest quality, we avoid middlemans as much as we can.