Faith No More?

The cherry blossoms in Riverside Park:a dazzling display of nature’s annual rebirth.
“Having faith,” per Google search results, is believing that …

The cherry blossoms in Riverside Park:
a dazzling display of nature’s annual rebirth.

“Having faith,” per Google search results, is believing that if you keep going—if you keep looking for answers, if you continue to do whatever it takes—you will succeed eventually. It’s also defined as “complete trust or confidence in someone or something.”

But the past year shattered a lot of people’s faith—in humanity, health, healthcare, peace, technology, science, Mother Nature, government, business, partnerships (think Nike), a better tomorrow. Faith has been tested like never before amid the world’s recent calamities and general upheaval. It seems as though we’re at a tipping point, and it’s not a good one. Sure, there was a flash of renewed faith in science when the vaccines rolled out in record time. But as fast as the shots have been administered, virus mutations have threatened to render them ineffective. Worse, the inequality of distribution worldwide increases the chance of such mutations taking hold. It hasn’t exactly been the shot in the arm I was hoping for to end this pandemic. Yet I have faith that science will ultimately provide the solution, just as it has for many other diseases.

Above all, I still have faith in humanity. I believe that collectively we can pull ourselves back from the abyss. While it can seem hopeless at times (the daily headlines are enough to make anyone want to stick their head in the sand), in the long run I think our desire to do right by one another and the planet will win out. Good triumphs evil. Why do I believe this? For starters, living in despair is just too damn depressing. I also see evidence all around me; I see people committed to making the world a better, more equitable place. Thousands of healthcare and frontline workers have risked their lives daily to help those in desperate need. The ongoing support of charities, for millions worldwide who have nowhere else to turn, is another beacon of hope.

Our industry’s support of the Two Ten Foundation is a shining example of the best side of human nature. In our feature this month, “Shelter from the Storm” (p. 12), we dive deep into how the 82-year-old industry charity has responded to the biggest crisis in its history—an unprecedented demand for emergency financial assistance from thousands of footwear employees and their families. It’s a heroic story of an industry coming together to support its colleagues, from the C-suite to the warehouse, in their time of need. It’s about how a tightknit team of dedicated Two Ten employees overcame challenges to get checks into people’s hands ASAP. Of course, none of it would be possible without the tremendous generosity of industry members. If you need a shot in the arm, so to speak, this is worth a read.

The push by a growing number of brands to incorporate eco-friendly materials and best practices offers another ray of hope. Our
Green & Heard section (p. 8) details several such efforts, ones that go far beyond gimmicks and are part of company-wide commitments to sustainability. The Holy Grail of circularity is even discussed, not as a pie in the sky dream but as a working goal. Green is good—for business and the planet. Our industry’s collective efforts to lessen our global footprint is inspiring. We have a long way to go, but we’re moving in the right direction and gathering momentum.

Our outdoor feature, “Into the Wild” (p. 21), is another example of brands doing right by Mother Nature, while also trying to make the outdoors accessible to all. Long deemed a category of tree huggers and adrenaline junkies, outdoor brands have seen the light. The pandemic has shown that people of all types seek solace in nature, from a short walk with the family in the local park to a solo trek through the Rocky Mountains. There’s a world of opportunity in this category in terms of growth potential and new products. (See our fashion feature, “Trail Mix” on p. 26, for the latest in outdoor fashions.)

You gotta have faith, as George Michael sings. In the face of all that can go horribly wrong, stay positive and press forward. Let nature and the arts provide inspiration and solace. The photos of this tree was shot across the street from my New York home, a reminder that nature can be as beautiful as it can be cruel. My fair city took it on the chin this past year—its per capita death and economic tolls rank worst in the nation. But New Yorkers are a resilient bunch. I have faith that with a little polish, the Big Apple will shine again. I have faith that our industry, our country and our world will rebound, too.

I agree with Bono and his enduring faith in mankind. “If there is a light/You can’t always see/And there is a world/We can’t always be/If there is a dark/Now we shouldn’t doubt/And there is a light/Don’t let it go out.

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