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If you don’t gravitate to Ponto for its commendable brand ethos – “fostering a purer sense of self, a cleaner planet and a more livable tomorrow” – you just might be drawn in, as I was initially, by the authenticity and commitment of its founders Aaron Roubitchek and Joseph Marquis. The ex-Google guy and Silicon Valley engineer, respectively, are walking the walk to better our planet with their lightweight, incredibly comfortable sustainable shoes.
Launched in 2018, the brand strives to lessen our footprint in a category that is not only known for overconsumption but is widely believed to be the second most polluting industry on the planet. I took Ponto footwear for a stroll to see if this hybrid sneaker lived up to its rave reviews.
Walk This Way
Ponto currently offers one style – the Pacific. At $129 (for both men and women), the part sneaker/part dress shoe hybrid design is available in five colors: Black, Grey, Slate Blue, Desert Orange and Camel. Given the brand’s recommendation, I ordered a half size up; as I wear socks with shoes, this adjustment made for the best fit.
While the shoe boasts flexibility and is lightweight, I can vouch that Ponto is next level comfort. Made from water repellent recycled leather – derived from tannery floors (these materials would have ended up in a landfill), the Pacific shoe is like walking on cotton balls, which was conducive for healing my post-knee surgery plantar fasciitis.
The shoes are constructed using bio-based foam (algae, in this instance, is an alternative to using plastic) and wood pulp. While I am usually a fan of wearing socks, they are not necessary as the foam insole is lined with a biodegradable odor eliminating Tencel™ fabric that is sweat resistant and breathable.
By designing a multi-occasion wearing shoe, Ponto’s “dress sneaker” aspires to encourage consumers to buy less – and own fewer – pairs of shoes. The founders know all too well that constantly buying, and fast fashion overall, has a crippling impact on the environment. While sustainability feels like a bandwagon trend for some brands who don’t hold themselves accountable (aka “greenwashing”), Ponto’s brand values place sustainability as its rai·son d'ê·tre. It’s more than the shoe itself that contributes to making the planet better: cleaner manufacturing processes and post-purchase donations also reinforce the brand’s mission.
Inspired by the ocean, the Ponto moniker stems from a medieval Greek God of the seas, as well as the founders’ childhood beach in Carlsbad, California. The footwear brand utilizes recycled water in developing the Pacific (another nod to water) shoe. I also love knowing that purchasing one pair is equivalent to returning 120 bottles of filtered water back to the environment. Among its many charitable giveback initiatives, Ponto is helping to eradicate plastics from our oceans.
Style Without Sacrifice
But ultimately it comes down to a great shoe. Founder Aaron Roubitchek believes this wholeheartedly, telling TQE: “Sustainable products shouldn't require compromise on aesthetic, comfort, function, or the level of sustainable rigor applied. If anything, it should bring with it a level of mindful design…Brands that use terms like carbon negative aren't owning up to the true onus that we have as brands to create the most high utility, useful product possible, using the most commercially viable materials and manufacturing practices out there, without asking consumers to compromise on any of their more primal desires to look good and feel good."
Thanks to motherhood, I had become a sneakerhead long before the uber-casual pandemic aesthetic took hold. Ponto now allows me – and you – to upgrade from the ubiquitous mom favorites (I am looking at you, Golden Goose) to a shoe that is more refined. Without forgoing comfort.
5 MORE REASONS TO LOVE PONTO:
1. Ponto donates 1% of sales to protect oceans. Through a partnership with 1% For the Planet and The Changing Tides Foundation, contributions help promote gender equity, social justice, and ocean health.
2. As giving back is ingrained in Ponto’s philosophy, the brand also partners with Soles4Souls, the largest non-profit shoe and apparel social enterprise in the US, to help uplift others and keep used and unsellable inventory out of landfills. Receive $20 credit for every pair of (well-worn) Pontos you send to Soles4Souls.
3. While Ponto is carbon neutral for all shipping currently, the brand is making strides toward the goal of becoming Zero Carbon. By partnering with Flexport’s Carbon Offset Program, Ponto currently minimizes any emissions related to shipping.
4. Ponto shoes are sold in men’s and women’s sizes, but the minimalist design is unisex.
5. With upper aesthetics of a dress shoe teamed with the comforts of a running shoe’s outsole, Ponto footwear features a versatility that really is the best of both worlds.