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In Conversation with Chris Margetts of Humans Are Vain

Humans Are Vain (HAV) is a contemporary eco-sustainable slow fashion footwear, accessories and apparel brand that believes in sustainability now not tomorrow. All their products are designed and engineered in Sweden, putting sustainable materials at the forefront of the design process and bringing together all the latest advances in sustainable and recycled materials into one place. All production is carried out in ethical factories in Portugal and they use recycled materials throughout, with a key focus on using materials made from plastic trash salvaged from the ocean in collaboration with The SEAQUAL Initiative, as well as making sure that all products are 100% vegan. They also operate a circular economy, so any unwanted items returned are recycled into new HAV products.

In a recent episode of the MenswearStyle Podcast we interviewed Humans Are Vain Co-Founder Chris Margetts and discussed his new life in Sweden, a country which takes sustainability and recycling seriously. Our host Peter Brooker and Chris talked about the motivations for starting a vegan brand, inspirations for the sneaker design aesthetics, what it takes to become Peta Vegan Approved, and the journey of the business to date.

Please tell us about your brand and how you got started in the footwear industry 

“My career started in the footwear industry twenty years ago. I studied footwear design and I had various job roles in the UK, from footwear buying to footwear development. I ended up working for a large fashion retailer in London and fast-fashion took over the industry. I felt I was being pushed to source more from the Far East and to use materials that I didn’t particularly want to be using. The pressure was on sourcing everything as cheaply as possible, whilst pushing up the prices for the customer. I eventually felt as though I couldn’t change anything from within the company, so I decided to start something myself to do things the way I believed it should be done, which is using more sustainable and recycled materials, ethical factories and sourcing everything in Europe.”

“It was around 2017 when I started to think about my own brand. I started looking at what could be done in footwear and what materials were available. It took a long time to source everything and to work with material suppliers. I wanted to put a brand together that was vegan, sustainable and with a big focus on recycled materials. My wife and I decided to move out to Sweden which is a forward-thinking country when it comes to sustainability. It’s part of everyone’s life here. It became the perfect platform to sit down and start designing the collection properly and to be inspired by nature which is all around us. I then launched the brand towards the end of 2019. It was quickly clear that there is a big demand for contemporary premium well-designed vegan and sustainable products. Our focus is on footwear, particularly sneakers.”

You're Peta Vegan Approved. Please tell us more about that. 

“With that certification you need to complete a lot of criteria and declare all your materials and components. You need to make sure you’re not using any adhesives that contain any animal traces. So, you need to be using water-based glues in production. Peta will also check and test your products without you knowing. When using a water-based glue in manufacturing it takes twice as long to make a shoe compared to conventional glues. They need longer to set and dry, and you need to apply it slightly differently. You can see why a lot of brands and factories might not want to use it. I also use things like pineapple leaves, but it doesn’t perform particularly well at stress points, so it isn’t a good idea to design a whole sneaker made from it.”

This is a shortened transcribed edit of episode 68 of the MenswearStyle Podcast with Chris Margetts, co-founder of humansarevain.com. You can listen to the full version below or listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favourite podcast player.


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