When Penelope Davies set up Melbourne-based footwear label Pieds in 2017, she had no idea her business would eventually become a slow-fashion champion. “Everything was going smoothly until we realised the soles of the sandals were not stuck down properly,” says Davies. Apparently the manufacturer had used the wrong glue, and customers were reporting the fault.

“My heart sank as it dawned on me that all those sandals would go into landfill. So we told them we’d handle it instead, and we took off each sole and glued them down ourselves.”

With the help of her friends and family, Davies spent more than 100 hours fixing the issue – time that allowed her to have a good think. She decided with Pieds (which is French for “feet”) she wanted to mitigate manufacturing issues like that whopper, and began searching for a local shoemaker to take on a made-to-order model. Davies figured this would not only reduce the risk of dead stock but also appeal to customers looking to make a long-term investment in their footwear.

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“As of 2021, Pieds sandals are handcrafted. The moment someone places an order with the Pieds online store, all elements of the sandal – the multilayered EVA sole, arch support and elastic upper – are handcrafted by the shoemaker in Melbourne,” says Davies.

There’s a one-week turnaround for production and then just under a week for delivery – which means it’ll be about a fortnight before you have your $145 new sandals. “We are hoping to connect with people who are not just buying our sandals for the weekend ahead, but who are making a considered purchase because they can see Pieds working as part of their wardrobe.”

In addition, any offcuts are donated to a not-for-profit organisation that passes them onto schools and childcare centres to use for art classes.

Davies says the label’s Original Green Sandal II and Original Khaki Sandal II are its top-selling shoes. And next month it’ll debut a small unisex kids collection – also made by hand in Melbourne.