Wardrobe Wisdom: Sven Segal's Shoe Care Secrets

Beautiful shoes are not renowned for their comfort but Po-Zu’s Spring Summer 2016 collection blends style, comfort and ethics with ease. ‘Po-Zu’, which comes from the Japanese word for ‘pause’, was founded in 2006 by footwear designer Sven Segal. His mission is ‘to provide your feet with unique respite from the frantic pace of busy lives, and to halt the damage that modern footwear manufacturing often causes to people and planet’. 

Hayley Aqua in orange & blue, with cork, vegetable tanned leather and natural latex by Po-Zu

Sven grew up in a small village in Israel where his mechanic father and carpenter grandfather inspired his love of making and mending. His interest in design led his to an apprenticeship with a local shoe maker, after which he moved to London to study footwear design at Cordwainers College. Since launching Po-Zu ten years ago Sven has developed new construction methods and introduced exciting, beautiful and durable materials such as natural latex, cork, coconut husk, Piñatex (a leather substitute made from pineapple leaf fibres, a by-product of the pineapple harvest) and even an edible shoe cream. With so much expertise, I had to ask Sven for his wardrobe wisdom...

What are your top wardrobe and care tips? We’d love you to share some shoe care secrets...

I like to think that my shoes have a soul (a tweaked sole), and just like our feet they also need a breather. Try not to wear the same shoes constantly day after day, give them a chance to air, dry, and rest - they will feel fresher and last longer.

Consider thinking of leather shoes as your second skin, they would love to be moisturised too every now and then. Otherwise leather tends to get dry and crack over time. Our edible shoe cream is a pretty neat option because you can moisturise both your own skin and your shoes at the same time!

Edible shoe cream from Po-zu ethical footwear

Do you have a 'go to' place for repairs or alterations, either for clothes, shoes or accessories?

I love fixing stuff myself whenever I can and I love my sewing machine. One of my daughter’s favourite mantras as soon as something breaks in the house: “daddy will fix it”. 

Are there any clothing or shoe shops that you always make a beeline for in the UK or elsewhere?

I’m not mad about clothes shopping (as opposed to shopping for food which I love) so I tend to buy online. I do however enjoy visiting the Maharishi store if I happen to be in Soho. It’s been a while since we’ve collaborated, but still love what they do.

Brill shoes in black with chrome-free leather, coconut husk & natural latex, by Po-Zu ethical footwear

What one main piece of advice would you give to someone who wants a more ethical wardrobe?

There are plenty of ethical shopping guides and apps out there - try this one if you shop online: www.getbalu.org.

Can you tell us about a treasured garment or accessory of yours - what is the story behind it?

If I can speak for my feet, then they treasure shoes with a Foot-Mattress, and as they adapt to the individual foot shape once you wear them in, they become deeply personal.

Ethical footwear: Po-Zu Brisk shoe with cocnut husk foot mattress

Po-Zu shoes are made to last and they are designed to be repaired - you even offer a 12 month guarantee. What is it about the construction of your shoes that sets them apart?

Shoes are usually glued together, which is not only an obstacle when it comes to having the option of disassembly (fairly essential for either repair or recycling), but also most glues that are used in shoes are solvent-based and particularly harmful for the poor factory workers who inhale those toxic fumes on a daily basis. Most Po-Zu shoes are made with a glue-less construction, which means that the sole can be removed and replaced once it wears out. We have been working on setting up a repair service, which we hope to launch later this year.  

Where do you find inspiration for the Po-Zu collections?

All sorts of things inspire me; it can be anything from a piece of cloth to architecture, to nature. When I started Po-Zu the entire theme was very much Japanese (hence the name); it’s now more mixed with influences from other cultures. My inspiration for the Foot-Mattress came from looking at natural shock-absorbing systems, and spotting a stack of humble coir planters at my local garden centre is what sparked the idea behind our compostable shoebox design.

Willow White shoes from Po-Zu ethical footwear in veg tanned leather, cork, natural latex & FSC certified beech

Who or what is your wardrobe inspiration?

Not sure about being inspired by anyone in particular style-wise, but sometimes I get struck by a de-clutter urge and aspire to adopt the zen / minimalist wardrobe mentality of Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.

What should people look out for when buying clothes and shoes? For example, can they think ahead to whether it can be repaired or altered in the future?

Sure, reparability and durability are key factors when it comes to sustainability, but the materials the shoes are made from are hugely important too, as there are extreme differences in environmental and health impacts. The worst possible offenders are shoes made from chromium tanned leathers which are widely used despite being recognised as the fourth worst pollution problem in the world.

Ello B V Cork, organic cotton, cork, eco microfibre ((OEKO-TEX Certified) & natural latex by Po-Zu ethical footwear


*Edible Shoe Cream: 'please note the cream liquefies into oil once the temperature reaches 24ºC and will solidify back into cream once it's below 24ºC. For this reason (to avoid accidental spillages) [Po-Zu] only sell this product during Autumn - Winter.'


About the author
User picture

Founder and Director of The Good Wardrobe. Lover of charity shops and mending stuff. New to Bristol. Follow on Twitter

Graphic for The Good Wardrobe newsletter linkGraphics for connecting to The Good Wardrobe via social networks and email newsletters



Graphical link to forum page to ask for advice from The Good Wardrobe community
Graphical link to "Give Advice" area on the Good Wardrobe forums
Graphical link to rate and review businesses on The Good Wardrobe Directory


Pledge here to share your skills and learn more about our campaign to get London sewing.