91. Dubs

Dubs is standing out from the kids’ shoes crowd with its range of fun, comfortable, and planet-friendly footwear.

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Founders: Stuart Davis and Gary Cadogan
Year founded: 2020
Website: dubsuniverse.com

It’s ironic that shoes have one of the worst carbon footprints when it comes to fashion waste. In the UK, two million shoes are binned every week – and with children’s feet growing at a rate of one size every 2-3 months, reducing this figure is no easy task.

It’s about time someone put their foot down – and Dubs Universe is doing just that. Launched just over a year ago, Dubs has developed a range of durable children’s shoes that are designed to grow with your child’s feet.

Cofounders Davis and Cadogan have worked with world-class children's footwear designers, technicians, and fitters to build their unique shoe design. Using clever shaping, each size of Dubs’ Loop Lite sneakers is individually designed to have the fitting and growing room to allow for natural growth and movement. 

The London-based startup also uses entirely recycled materials to make its shoes, including sugarcane and reclaimed plastic bottles. This makes them an environmentally-friendly option compared to traditional sneakers, which are often made from synthetic materials that take hundreds of years to decompose.

Once a child outgrows a pair of Loop Lites, there's no need to consign them to the landfill either. Instead, they can be returned to Dubs’s partner charity Sal’s Shoes, an organisation dedicated to combating global shoe poverty.

What’s so impressive about Dubs is the fact that founders Stuart Davis and Gary Cardogan started out without very little knowledge of the shoe industry. In fact, neither of them had even run a business before Dubs.

“To fund the initial stages, because we had no cash, we adopted a cunning skill-share system,” Davis told the Startups team. “Gary and I are veterans in the design and creative world. So, we swapped skills. We found local, independent brands that needed help in things like social strategy, design, creative copy and in return, they taught us about shoe design.”

In addition to being sustainable and long-lasting, Dubs shoes are comfortable, stylish and made for play – a welcome departure from unimaginative, miniature versions of adult shoes that line the shelves of most shoe shops. 

In the past two years, Dubs has shown it can walk the walk in a crowded shoewear market. Now the company has its foot in the door. 

Available in four independent UK footwear stores as well as online, Dubs’ commitment to continuous material innovation and sustainable mission statement makes it a shoe-in to win over even more eco-conscious consumers in 2024.

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