About Blackspot Shoes
Made from organic hemp in a Portuguese union shop, everything about the Blackspot, from it's red toe-tip and hand-drawn anti-logo to its renegade billboards and TV ads, is designed to do only one thing: kick megacorporate ass. We're going to cut into Nike's market share, unswoosh that tired old swoosh and give birth to a new kind of cool in the sneaker industry. Order online, or stop by a local Blackspot retailer to try them on in person.
The Unswoosher features everything that made the Blackspot Sneaker great – it's made in a safe, comfortable union factory with environmentally sound, all-vegetarian materials, including 100% organic hemp uppers. But for the boot we’ve been able to take things even farther with soles made from reclaimed used tires. They look pretty wicked, and it’s a great way to take a bite out of an over-abundant waste material. Order online, or stop by a local Blackspot retailer to try them on in person.
About Blackspot Campaign
Blackspot campaign was born almost three years ago when we decided to stop merely criticizing the status quo and actually do something about it. It was born on the back of Nike, capturing the attention of the global media as a lively attack on the brand idolatry and sweatshop production methods of that multinational. Encouragingly, over 25,000 people are now wearing Blackspot shoes. Earth-friendly, anti-sweatshop, and cruelty-free, Blackspots are the only shoes designed to give Big Business what it needs the most: a swift kick in the brand.
About The Shoes
Our two models, the classic Blackspot Sneaker and the Blackspot Boot are both designed by John Fluevog, known for his cutting edge innovativeness and flair. The shoes comply with vegan standards, and are being monitored by Robin Webb of Vegetarian Shoes in the UK. Robin is an industry leader dedicated to the production of ethical footwear. Blackspots are sold only in independently owned retail stores worldwide.
We're using 100% organic hemp, which is processed with natural methods such as water retting, eliminating the need to use chemicals. The Blackspot Sneaker has a rubber sole and a toe cap that is 70% biodegradable, whereas The Unswoosher has a sole made from recovered car tires. We're not currently using water-based glues, as they lack permanence so shoe longevity suffers. The white anti-logo and the red splotches are hand-painted, and the soles are stitched, glued and embedded for extra durability.
Adbusters itself funnels any proceeds back into our non-profit campaigns, but our Blackspot indy retailers are of course free to benefit from the customary mark-up from wholesale that enables them to survive.
The Blackspot Shoes factory is located in a rural region of Portugal called Felgueiras, an area steeped in 400 years of shoe-making tradition. The factory has been owned and operated by the same family for three generations. The owners have a reputation for being excellent employers. Although many of the employees in the factory have cars, others are often seen walking home through vineyards and olive groves, waving to bosses and neighbors as they pass. Felgueiras is a friendly place. There is almost no crime. Many who live there have lived there all their lives.
Factory machinery is new and updated. The work pace is good, as is air quality. The premises are big, wide, well lit. Sound level compliance is strictly enforced. Music is audible wherever you go. A model factory, according to the head union rep, with a near-perfect safety record. All safety equipment is available and checked.
The work day is from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., with 1 1/2 hours for lunch (no coffee breaks). Overtime is not compulsory, and is generously paid. (Usually only the more senior workers, such as designers and samplers, will work overtime). The first hour of overtime is remunerated at time and a half, then time plus 75% thereafter.
Portugal has a national medical plan for all its citizens. A doctor visits the factory twice a week, and workers are entitled to unlimited free consultations.
The minimum wage in Portugal is 365 Euros per month. Workers in this factory earn between 420 and 700 Euros per month, depending on their job and seniority. In addition to basic salary, workers receive 25 paid days off and two extra months of pay per year, which works out to 35% above minimum wage.
Union dues are 1% of the members' salaries, and about 40% of the workers are registered. Not everyone chooses to belong to the union, as they don't see any need for it. The union gets involved in wage negotiations where necessary, and provides workers with legal representation when required, but is mostly there to provide protection from unfair dismissals. However, no-one has ever been unfairly dismissed in this factory, according to the workers we spoke with in private.
The workers told us that this factory is one of the best in Portugal. They also told us that the only factories in Portugal that are 100% union are those under foreign ownership, where workers feel more vulnerable than they do working for local or community based employers.
We met with employees who belong to the union; we met with workers who liaison between employees and the union (shop stewards); we met with union staff and staff of the government-run umbrella organization that administers the union. All meetings were in private. All the people we interviewed were unequivocal in their praise of the factory. A high degree of transparency was evident.