Buy sneakers, foster Ecuadorian education, that is the philanthropic exchange propelling the Miami-based footwear line Juntos. For every pair of Juntos sneakers purchased, brand founders Mauricio Laniado and Andrew Tupper provide an Ecuadorian student with a year's worth of essential school supplies.
The concept was formed when Laniado, a first-generation Ecuadorian-American, returned from a visit with the country's signature Zapato de Lona canvas sneakers as souvenirs. The shoes were a hit with his friends, who requested more pairs for themselves and others. So along with Tupper, Laniado returned to Ecuador to learn more about the shoe worn en masse by the country's working class. “I was so inspired by the way Ecuador’s working class wore their shoes,” says Laniado. “They wear beaten-up shoes like badges of honor . . . I wanted to do something to give back to my home.”
Upon returning to Miami, Laniado and Tupper designed a shoe similar to the Zapato de Lona, but with a more fashionable, street style edge. The resulting Junto sneaker is a lightweight lace-up sold in classic shades of blue and white, each pair sporting a map of Ecuador in its insole. Juntos retail for $48 per pair and are currently available exclusively through indiegogo.com.