I'd rather not wear animals on my feet

1 Dec 2009

Sources: Beyond Skin, Green Shoes, Bourgeois Boheme, Crocs

I’ve been vegetarian for 12 years, and now vegan for 3, and it’s been one very long search for the ideal non-leather shoe. Although I’ve found a few options, I’ve never discovered the perfect vegan shoe. I’m always forced to make compromises – usually on the fit (if I find a pair that I like and they’re vegan then I usually have to put up with any comfort issues). I feel that I can categorise the vegan shoes available on the current market into 6 categories:

1. Typical vegetarian/vegan shoe suppliers e.g. Vegetarian Shoes, Vegan Store.
Uncomfortable and often unattractive. I’ve tried them in the past and I find the materials they use are too stiff and difficult to walk in. I haven’t personally had much luck, but that’s not to say other people won’t like these shoes.

2. Cheap shoe shops e.g. Barratts.
This kind of shop uses synthetic materials instead of leather to save money, not for ethical reasons. The synthetic materials aren’t good quality, neither are the soles. This is the type of shoe that I resort to buying, then waste money on endless repairs.

3. High end companies e.g. Beyond Skin.
Absolutely stunning but not affordable to normal folk – these shoes are more suited to a museum! Their shoes would be wonderful for special occasions (e.g. a wedding) but just not a viable everyday option (for my budget).

4. Handmade shoes e.g. Green shoes.
These are slightly hippy, with some cute styles, but I feel nervous paying money for handmade mail order shoes without trying a pair on first and not being able to send them back for a refund. Maybe if I had the money I’d pluck up the courage and discover handmade to be the best option. I think I might eventually have to go down this route if I want shoes that last longer than one season (you can send them back for repairs). They use a good quality material called Lorica, which is durable, soft and breathable.

5. Crocs
Previously stocked unattractive shoes in brash colours, but recently they have brought out some more “normal” looking shoes that are made from the ultra-comfortable materials. I have a pair of their Lily Winter shoes in black velvet (picture above) and they are actually really pretty. Crocs seem to be the best option for me at the moment as they are comfortable and hardwearing, but they have started using leather on some of their styles... so I may be back to square one soon!

6. Other specialist shops e.g. Moo Shoes (US), Bourgeois Boheme (UK)
These companies handpick vegan shoes to sell in their shops seem to have some fairly decent styles. I’m sure if I lived in New York I’d buy all my shoes in Moo Shoes, but I live in London. A similar shop in the UK is Bourgeois Boheme, which has a showroom in Richmond and offers a mail order service. I might give their shoes a go at some point, but to be honest I haven’t seen a pair that has caught my eye.

Conclusion: We need an option 7, which would read as follows:

7. Highstreet store “X” that exclusively sells vegan shoes.
Beautiful, environmentally friendly shoes, that just happen to be vegan. They appeal to everyone, not just vegans. People buy them because they are simply fantastic shoes at affordable prices.

For a long time I've dreamt of opening a vegan shoe shop but I don’t feel there is a good enough selection of shoes to do this at the moment. I think the solution to the current problem is to design shoes that are so incredible that people don't even notice they're vegan. Just like meat-eaters sometimes eat something so tasty that they don't even notice that it's vegetarian.

Without doubt, there is an environmental issue when it comes to non-leather shoes. The plastics used in the production of synthetic materials may be unkind to the environment, so perhaps superior materials need to be developed. Some vegans and vegetarians opt for recycled/eco leather shoes (e.g. Terra Plana) or secondhand shoes, as they feel they’re not directly contributing to the leather industry. But to be blunt - I don’t feel comfortable walking around with dead animals on my feet.

I appreciate that Beyond Skin stocks a stunning range, but there is real need for some everyday styles that are more affordable. Is there anyone out there that wants to develop a range with me?! I’m certain there is an opening in the market…


Shelia Day said...

Thanks for the comment on my blog. I really appreciated this post. My husband and I often go back to England during our Christmas break, and my feet get so cold walking around. Do you wear vegan boots in the winter? I was attempting to find a good, sturdy (and cute!) pair.

Fashion Wh0re said...

Cool post and Nice blog one pair of shoes i think i'm not feeling is crocs just not my thing i'm following you check out my blog and if you like it follow me too

Anonymous said...

Some of those styles are gorgeous but I see what you mean about affordability. Thanks for visiting my blog. :)

etnies trainers UK said...

nice blog, you categorize the vegan shoes its impressive. i am non-vegan shoes user but i love handmade shoes.

source outdoor said...

Excellent Post! I'm also a vegan, and i share you ideals on animals protection. A step by step walk-through on which shoes are at the same time beautiful and not harmful for the animals. I think these type of shoes will feet perfectly on a clumsy person as myself. Thank god for modern technology

shoe shop said...

I love to read about fashion and footwear

Joanne J said...

hi I'm Joanne from Taiwan
I'm a vegan too
thank you for the list about the vegan shoes
I agree that it's hard to find a fantastic vegan shoes
(there's no vegan shoes store in Taiwan)
anyway, thank you for article thank you for being vegan

Joanne J said...

hi I'm Joanne from Taiwan
I'm a vegan too
thank you for the list about the vegan shoes
I agree that it's hard to find a fantastic vegan shoes
(there's no vegan shoes store in Taiwan)
anyway, thank you for article thank you for being vegan

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