23 de julho de 2020 Miguel Silva

Did you Give Your Kicks with Conga in the ‘80s?

With this article we, Andre Santos, and I, have covered the Three Start Brothers of Alpargatas that were part of our daily life from the ‘70s to ‘90s. Conga (1959), Bamba (1961), and Kichute (1970) were much more than Shoes, they were the Three Musketeers that Protect our Feet during our youth adventures at home, school, and much more. Congratulations to Alpargatas for this massive success with those three brands and products.

The word Conga is originated from the Latin American dance in which a chain of people holds each other around the waist and follows the leader around using simple steps and kicks. Once again, I am not sure if Alpargatas had that in mind, but I think so, as playing around with Conga was as easy and joyful as Dancing in the Rhythm of the Conga Music.

“…Conga La Conga, Conga, Conga, Conga…”.

This one you will only get if you were in Brazil in the ‘80s. As we are talking about music, I know, most of you will be laughing by now, but the truth is that we all, at a certain point, have given some kicks with our Conga dancing under the rhythm of this song, am I right?

Conga was as easy to wear as Bamba and Kichute. Upper and Outsole Materials were amazingly similar in compounds, textures, patterns, structures, types, etc. Basically, Alpargatas used Canvas on Uppers and Vulcanized Rubber on Outsoles.

This “simplicity” of materials and styles was, no doubt about it, part of their market sales success.

Besides, they were easy to maintain, wash, dress, and fit in all those days’ circumstances. One could go to school in the morning, play around with his/her friends at noon, and give a few kicks at night at Dancing Houses using the same pair of Sneakers.

A Tribute to the Success of The Three Musketeers among Consumers

At Kichute article we went over the Upper and Outsole Materials and Technical Shoes Aspects, at M2000 we have learned about footwear terminologies, at Reebok article we have seen a little bit of the brand story, at Melissa, we have seen some interesting facts about Melissa Aranha Quadrada and technologies embedded, and at Bamba, we have visited the Manufacturing (Industrial) Footwear Floor. Now, at Conga, we are going to cover the Sustainable Consumption Trend in the Footwear Industry and Market.

Back then when Conga, Bamba, and Kichute were developed, produced, and sold in millions of pairs in the Footwear Brazilian Market, the Environmental Issues were just a distant concern, something we should be worried about within the next couple of decades.  Well, there (here) we are!

Just to mention three Forecasts those Environmentalists from the ‘70s used to warn, and many used to deny Planet Warming, Air Pollution, and Natural Resources Scarcity and that today are reality. Until a few years ago the discussion about our planet’s temperature, if it was getting higher or not was a great battle from different groups of scientists. Well, today the discussion is over as Glaciers are Melting Down faster than ever before and it can be witnessed by naked eyes, many big cities around the world have serious air pollution issues, and the human race is pushing natural resources to the limit. Finally, the planet is “round” and not flat any longer. Well, the rhetorical question is How do we manage the Environmental Situation and Issues to releases not only future generations but also ours?

Has Sustainable Come to Stay at the Footwear Universe or Is It Just a Fad?

I cannot see a future that is not full of Sustainable and Recyclable Products, that Respect the Environment, and that are aligned with the concepts of Circular Economy. I am sure that this is not just my perception, but of thousands, or rather, millions of people around the world. We already demand too much of the natural resources of our planet Earth.

When I hear the word WASTE, I ask myself: What is the origin of the Plastic Bag that shoe stores offer us to take our shoes back home? One day this plastic was a Fossil Resource. What is the origin of the Paper Shoe Box that we throw away right after the shoe purchase? One day this role was a tree!

What We Call Waste, in fact, are Natural Resources!

When we throw an old shoe in the trash we are actually discarding and calling garbage what was once a tree (Paper Shoe Box), a Fossil Resource (Rubber), an ore (Metals), a plant (Natural Fibers), the skin of an animal (Leather), and other endless examples. In short: There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that makes up our shoes that can be called GARBAGE, WASTE, or TRASH. This perception that footwear reaches the end of its life after use is what is changing and impacting the entire footwear production chain and mentality of consumption (and that is powerful).

We need shoes to protect and adorn our feet, but, equally, we need to protect and adorn our planet. There are national and global footwear brands that have already realized this consumption trend and are adapting their products to this demand, which goes far beyond the desire to retain customer loyalty, but rather, to enchant and respect all social actors. These companies are taking the lead in a “race” that is already paying their winners’ valuable prizes in the form of Brand Recognition, Market Share, Sales Volumes, and Profitability.

All Companies are Born and Exist to Meet a Social Reason!

Note: In Brazil, the Company Legal Name is called Razão Social (Social Reason). That is perfect as a Company, Private or Public, has a reason to exist far beyond the common sense of “Making Investors Happy”. A Company, in its essence, has to make All The Stakeholders Happy, be them the Society, Investor, Community, Workers, Share Holders, Owners, Governments around it. Entrepreneurs know that companies consume a lot of resources around it and they must give it back to the community, so, everybody is happy at the end of the day!

Companies are realizing that it is impossible to stay out of this Green Wave, because what was once called “Eco Boring Actions”, today is seen as the solution to the various public health challenges, for example. And I am not talking about global warming, although it could, I am talking about more objective and present things in our daily lives. E.g. Is there a river in your city? If so, is the water in this river clear or is it, like the vast majority of rivers polluted by heavy metals, sewers, etc.? Another interesting question is Where does the water that you drink every day come from? That’s right, we are throwing sewage into the rivers and then drinking our excrement!

The impact is happening in the noticeably short term in our daily lives, and not only in the long term in the faraway melting of glaciers. It is our health that is at stake, the quality of the air, and the water we drink today is at stake! Being Sustainable is an Economic, Social, and Environmental issue. If companies today can still choose to be sustainable or not, in my opinion, Being Sustainable will mean, very soon, to remain or not in the market. Here is the question that needs to be asked to your Company…

What is your Company’s Social Reason?

But the tide is turning, and it’s really changing, since every day I see more and more Sustainable initiatives throughout the Supply, Production, and Distribution Chain of the Footwear Sector. Companies and Their Brands are benefiting from adopting Sustainable Actions and Developing Sustainable Products and Services.

The benefits are felt inside and outside the companies. Raw material from a sustainable source, or a recyclable source, or the reduction of an industrial process, etc., all of this leaves positive results at Cash Flow (Profitability, Revenue), at Society (People are more proud to work for companies with a purpose) and the Environment (the community where the company operates feels it is being respected). All of this increases the market value of Brands and Companies!

Terminologies Related to the Sustainable Footwear Universe

Below there is a list of Terminologies and Entries that are being incorporated more and more each day in the Footwear Industry. Your Company Must be ready for them as they are already Impacting the way customers choose their products, brands, stores, and where to put their money, and that’s only the Tip of the Iceberg:

Circular Economy – is an alternative to a traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose of) in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life.

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) –  is a cradle-to-grave or cradle-to-cradle analysis technique to assess environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a product’s life, which is from raw material extraction through materials processing, manufacture, distribution, and use.

Product Life Cycle (PLC) – is the cycle through which every product goes through from introduction to withdrawal or eventual demise.

From Cradle to Cradle – it can be defined as the design and production of products of all types in such a way that at the end of their life, they can be truly recycled (upcycled), imitating nature’s cycle with everything either recycled or returned to the earth.

Greenwashing – Greenwashing is the process of conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company’s products are more environmentally sound. Greenwashing is considered an unsubstantiated claim to deceive consumers into believing that a company’s products are environmentally friendly.

Sustainability – it is the ability to avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance.

Green Economy – is defined as low carbon, resource-efficient, and socially inclusive. In a green economy, growth in employment and income is driven by public and private investment into such economic activities, infrastructure, and assets that allow reduced carbon emissions and pollution, enhanced energy and resource efficiency, and prevention of the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Green House Gases (GHG) – Greenhouse gases are gases in Earth’s atmosphere that trap heat. They let sunlight pass through the atmosphere, but they prevent the heat that the sunlight brings from leaving the atmosphere. E.g. Carbon dioxide.

Pre-Consumer – is the reclamation and use of waste materials that were created during the process of manufacturing or delivering goods prior to their delivery to a consumer.

Post-Consumer – (of waste or recycled products) consisting of or incorporating material discarded by end-users rather than generated during a manufacturing process.

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