Vegan shoes used to be frumpy, clumpy and incredibly unattractive. Those days are thankfully gone and there are now some wonderful vegan footwear brands, producing striking and cruelty free footwear. Many people like the comfort factor and breathability of leather shoes, but unfortunately it's a dirty business. Millions of animals are slaughtered every year for their skin, being subject to castration, branding, dehorning and tail docking (minus anesthetics), before bleeding to death and being skinned. Animal skin is then converted to leather with dangerous chemicals, dyes and other toxins, that are exceedingly harmful to people and the environment. Rearing animals whose skins are eventually transformed into leather uses vast amounts of fossil fuels. Farm animals create large amounts of toxic waste which is absorbed into the ground and surface water, polluting wells and rivers and contributing to global warming. The vast amount of land used for grazing also contributes to a negative environmental impact.
A study carried out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention disclosed that a solvent utilised in tanning leather has been linked with a heightened risk of testicular cancer. Additionally when you buy leather products, you may sometimes be purchasing leather from Asian cat and dog tanneries. For more information see Cowsarecool.com.
There is an alternative. Some fantastic vegan footwear brands have emerged that provide stylish and ethical vegan shoes. Three of my favourites are featured below. I will be featuring more in coming weeks!
Beyond Skin is an exclusive vegan footwear label that was established in 2001, by Natalie Dean, a make-up artist in the music and fashion industry. Beyond Skin footwear is hand-made to order in the UK, by a small manufacturer in East London, utilising a range of man-made fabrics such as polyester (kinder to the environment than viscose, which is processed with acid chemicals) and cotton backed polyurethane (which is less damaging to the environment than PVC). Polyurethane is not perfect by any means, but it is a whole lot better than leather! Beyond Skin is a firm favourite with celebrities such as Natalie Portman, Sadie Frost, Amanda Holden and Joanna Lumley.
Hot Pick - Sui Generis Angelina almond toe court, in a variety of vegan fabrics, £284.
These are my current favourites. Charmoné Shoes were founded in 2006, by Jodi Koskella and Lauren Carroll who noticed a gap in the market for stylish vegan footwear. They work with the aim of producing beautiful, luxurious and sexy shoes that are environmentally friendly and cruelty-free. The shoes are crafted in Italy, utilising high quality Italian microfibers that are constructed like leather, allowing the skin to breathe. The materials used are free from PVC, instead using a polyurethane coating.
Hot Pick - Ginseng half D'orsay open toe platform, laster cut microfiber faux leather, $315.
Bourgeois Bohéme, a 2007 PETA Proggy Award winner (for Best Cruelty-Free Shoe Retailer) is a trendy on-line boutique providing a range of vegan, natural and organic accessories for men and women. Their products are ethically sourced and the leather alternatives they use are mostly biodegradable. Bourgeois Bohéme endeavour to use recycled products when possible and are Vegan Society approved, as well as being PETA Business Friends.
Hot Pick - Amelia White vegan dress shoe, faux leather, £45.