Uniform Standard: A British Footwear Brand Setting the Standard in Sustainability

12.12.19 | By
Uniform Standard: A British Footwear Brand Setting the Standard in Sustainability

For the aesthete whose wardrobe emphasizes timeless design over whimsical trends, there’s no better fashionable investment than a pair of minimalist monochromatic sneakers. Sleek and simplified, silhouettes bereft of extraneous details like those offered by Uniform Standard look great paired with almost any outfit, remarkably impervious to the ebbs and flows of fleeting trends. Minimalist sneakers are a versatile staple adaptive to nearly any occasion, whether it be for work or leisure, making them an essential regardless of age or geography.

While finding simply stated footwear hardly presents a challenge these days, hunting down modern and minimalist sneakers produced sustainably with ethically sourced materials narrows the field significantly. A sneaker may be minimalist in style, but if it’s worn only for a few seasons, it will likely end up adding to the harrowing figure of over 300 million pairs of shoes discarded annually in America alone.

Look carefully along the Series 1’s seams where hand-stitched detailing on the heel counter adds a subtle embellishment to an otherwise minimal silhouette.

Slipping on and lacing up a pair of Uniform Standard sneakers doesn’t immediately evoke the brand’s core values focused upon “sustainability and social and environmental responsibility”. Their shoes can be appreciated on the merits of their crisp, clean fashionability and out-of-the-box comfort alone. But the East London footwear brand has their sights aimed higher than becoming a scion of the fashionable, with every one of their shoes produced conscious of its impact on the environment.

Using hand-stitched Italian leather, recycled outsoles, footbeds, and insole boards, Uniform Standard’s contemporary shoes are built to last, sharing more in common with formal leather footwear of the past than the typical cheap casual sneakers of the present.

Uniform Standard’s current catalog is represented in four collections, with every shoe hand stitched and lasted in footwear factories in Portugal. The company prides itself in using only the highest quality Italian full grain calf leather, nubuck, and suedes sourced from gold-rated tanneries certified by The Leather Working Group, and pairing these upper materials with aforementioned recycled components. The resulting shoe is produced with minimized impact on the environment across its entire life cycle, right down to the 100% recycled kraft card boxes which they ship within.

They say ‘the devil is in the details’, but in the case of Uniform Standard, small details like the waxed finish cotton laces add to the shoes’ durability.

The low top Series 1 is the epitome of the minimalist sneaker, with a subtle hand stitched detail on the heel counter paired with a contrast vegetable tanned calf leather back collar. The Series 3 finds inspiration in the designs of “mid-century German Army trainers” complemented with textured leather and suede detailing, while the Series 6 narrows options down to black or white leather and grey suede in a basketball-inspired profile that operates as a more sophisticated Air Force 1-ish profile. Uniform Standard’s Series 8 minimalist looks best arguably in its navy iteration, with its continuous textured white rubber outsole a stark contrast to its dyed dark upper.

100% recycled high density polyurethane foam topped with leather lined padded footbeds offers a comfortable ride and improves breathability while underneath a layer of active carbon coating keeps foot funk at bay.

Design Milk is proud to be the exclusive United States partner of Uniform Standards, offering their entire catalog in our online shop. 24-hour express shipping is available (for a fee) to make holiday plans a reality with all in-stock models, but we recommend ordering by Thursday, December 19th to ensure delivery.

Gregory Han is a Senior Editor at Design Milk. A Los Angeles native with a profound love and curiosity for design, hiking, tide pools, and road trips, a selection of his adventures and musings can be found at