Online searches for jelly sandals have increased massively since April, with global fashion search platform Lyst declaring an 82 per cent month on month increase. High street stores are awash with them, and you can nab a glittery, bubble-scented pair for under a tenner. But no matter your feelings towards their style credentials, one thing is for certain: they’re one of the least environmentally friendly options around.
It’s official – love them or loathe them, the jelly shoe is back as the footwear choice of the summer. Tying into the childlike resurgence the fashion world is embracing right now, the 90s favourites dominated catwalks last season, with everyone from Alexa Chung and Simone Rocha to Gucci and Giorgio Armani parading them down the runway, some encrusted with jewels, others bedecked with feathers.
The majority of jelly shoes are made from the petrochemical-based material PVC, which, according to Greenpeace, is the ‘single most environmentally damaging type of plastic.’ In these increasingly plastic aware times, shoes made entirely from fossil fuels may seem an odd choice for a fashion trend, and yet they’re not the only culprits – from flip-flops to sliders, many of our summer choices are made predominantly from plastic.
So what to do? Several well-known manufacturers, including UK-based Juju, which supplies ASOS, Urban Outfitters and Brazil-based brand Melissa, are promising recyclable jellies. However, this can be problematic in itself, as PVC is almost never recyclable through local councils and can contaminate other plastic recycling. Melissa is working on installing recycling collectors in all its stores by the end of 2020; for now, if you head to their Covent Garden store, they’ll take back your shoes and recycle them for you.
It’s not perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction. If you simply can’t resist adding a pair to your summer wardrobe, make sure it’s an investment piece that you’ll be happy to wear for years to come. Alternatively, browse our gallery of the best sandals to wear this summer – there’s not a jelly shoe in sight!