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Tag Archives: shoes
Last week, if you had looked closely, you would have thought I was being a huge hypocrite.
I was at my desk, eating lunch. Slung over my chair was a new, black, ladylike, vegan coat by Vaute Couture. On my feet were black, microsuede, platform booties by Crie de Coeur. And I was eating a chicken salad.
What could account for this odd sartorial/culinary dissonance? Am I a poser, buying vegan just to say I buy vegan while I contribute to the murder of poor little caged chickens with my choice of lunch?
Actually, there is a method to this madness. The chicken salad in question was from the Whole Foods prepared food bar–organic, hormone-free and humanely raised. And the outerwear and shoes in question are more than just vegan.
You see, I have no problem with eating meat as long as I know where it comes from. This is for the usual liberal guilt reasons (I happen to like my Chesapeake bay free of mounds of nitrate-rich chicken poop, thanks) but also out of concern for my own health. More than 3,000 people die each year from food poisoning, and I myself came down with a mild bout after succumbing to the siren call of Perdue chicken fingers at a Yankees game last year. Still, as long as I get my meat–pork, chicken, duck and the occasional hamburger–from a local farm, I feel OK about it. And I’m especially OK with eggs and yogurt from the Greenmarket.
So why go to the trouble and expense of buying vegan products? They’re not even going in my mouth!
Well, when it comes to beauty products, many are vegan as a sort of checkmark in a long line of conscious requirements of the modern consumer: No testing on animals–check. Organic–check. Paraben-free–check. Container made from post-consumer recycled content–check. Vegan/free of animal products–check. So I really just end up with vegan face lotion and deodorant.
But when it comes to clothing, something I’ve found to be almost universally true is that if someone takes the time to ensure their clothing and/or accessories are vegan, they’ve also taken the time to ensure their products are also sustainably and ethically made. Take, for example, these brands:
- EcoCloset shoes are vegan, plus eco-friendly, non-toxic and made in an ethical, sweatshop-free factory in China.
- Beyond Skin shoes are vegan, plus handmade in Spain.
- Olsen Haus shoes are vegan, plus fair trade and sustainably made.
- Elizabeth Detroit shoes are vegan, plus made from recycled plastic in the United States.
- Neuaura shoes are vegan, plus are made in a sustainable factory in Brazil.
- Pansy Maiden bags and accessories are vegan, plus made the U.S. of sustainable materials.
- Matt and Nat bags and accessories are vegan, plus use sustainable and upcycled materials.
- Reveal bags and accessories are vegan, plus made with sustainable materials.
- Vaute Couture outerwear is vegan, plus made in New York.
- Crie de Coeur shoes and accessories are vegan, plus made with sustainable materials.
See what I mean? Yes, I still have plenty of leather in my closet, especially the vegetable-tanned kind. But no, I don’t think it’s weird to pull money out of a vegan wallet to pay for Long Island duck breast. Do you?
I had the pleasure of being invited to a Tweetup last week, at a little bar called The Ten Bells on the Lower East Side. It was to showcase a new line of shoes called Naya.
First of all, let me just say that I have to get back to The Ten Bells. You could walk past its unassuming front several times (like I did) because there is no sign out front. But once you get inside, it’s welcoming. Small, but welcoming. Oh, and it serves organic wine and and what looks like delish food, including local cheeses from raw milk. When I walked in out of the softly falling snow, it was bustling with patrons sitting around the bar and gossiping over the tables. Impressive for a Tuesday, for sure.
At the back of the bar, I was welcomed by representatives of the brand, who showed me some styles. To be honest, a few were a little dowdy – no stilettos here. But once I learned that Naya is the daughter of Naturalizer, that made a little more sense. Still, in the dim light of the bar, I picked out a few shoes that I will be coming back for next fall, like a pair of chocolate brown, knee-high boots with a medium heel and tassels.
Honestly, it’s nice to find even passably pretty shoes that are eco-friendly. Last time I tried an “eco-friendly” store, it was vegan. I hate vegan shoes. They’re just plastic fakes with an extra 75 bucks tacked on. Also, I have very high standards for my shoes as far as aesthetics. Naya shoes just about make it there. Pretty, not drop dead, but pretty.
So here are their green credentials (full disclosure, I’m quoting from their marketing materials.)
- Chrome-free or vegetable-tanned leathers
- Natural, organic or sustainable fabrics
- Heels made from sustainable bamboo
- Biodegradable latex foam cushioning
- Natural cork and rubber footbeds
- Outsoles made with recycled materials
- Nickel-free metal buckles
- Recycled paper boxes
- Water soluble glues and cements
Not bad, right?
Bottom line: I think I might get their white shoes (shown above) for spring. I’m always looking for comfy white leather summer sandals that look nice. And when fall comes… I’ll be in the stores looking for those boots!
I like leather. I like how soft and smooth and nice it feels on my feet as it hugs them on a cold day. I like the way it looks when it’s stitched with heavy thread and studded with metal rivets. It seems substantial, like it’s a real investment in my wardrobe that will last long enough for me to hand it to my daughter some day.
I also like fur. I like the way it softly caresses my neck and shields me from an icy wind. I have fond memories of snuggling into my mother’s wolf and rabbit floor-length fur coat. When she wore it, it meant we had a special night out to the ballet, to a play, to the symphony. It meant a delicious dinner at a fancy restaurant all the way in Baltimore or D.C. – or when I was even younger – the Nutcracker in Raleigh. I associate fur with a new flouncy dress and a special trip to New York to see The Lion King and The Phantom of the Opera, and eating from the biggest buffet I’d ever seen at the Plaza.
This is why it was a real stretch for me to seek out and go into a vegan shoe shop called Moo Shoes on the Lower East Side. I have no moral issues with fur or leather. But I figured that if eating less meat is good for the environment, buying less leather must be too.
First, let me make something clear. I would never be a vegan. Vegans say pearls and silk are bad. I never heard of torturing silk worms to make them produce more silk. They also can’t eat dairy products. That’s just silly. Someone in Germany even asked me if it’s true that a vegan will wait for an apple to fall off the tree before they will eat it. Ummm, hope not!
So here I am at Moo Shoes, trying to be open-minded. Moo Shoes is such a stereotype in action. They had No Meat! buttons piled in bins, posters, stickers everywhere. The girls behind the counter were surly and unkempt. Not exactly inspirational fashion plates. Though I did enjoy petting one of the two cats.
I picked up a pair of booties, the ones in the picture above, to try on. Look closely at the picture. If you have ever experienced leather shoes with thick stitching and stacked wooden heels, you can tell just from the picture that these are not high-quality shoes. They didn’t feel high-quality either. When forced my feet into the plastic casing, they chafed against the inside. The shoes felt brittle. In short, they felt like $30 shoes from J.C. Penny’s junior section.
But I rationalized. “If they’re cheap,” I thought, “I can wear them and wear them out and it doesn’t matter! I’ll save money and save the environment. ” So I turned the box around to look at the price.
$129. Seriously? I yanked the shoes off my feet, put them back in the box, and marched out of the store. The shop girls who were ignoring me, mostly, seemed happy to see me go. They might have noticed my trusty black leather purse that I’ve carried for four years. It still looks fashionable and perfect.
I suppose they were just jealous.
If you want to read a laughable article where someone extolls the virtues of vegan fashion (you can still wear denim bustiers apparently, thank GOD) check out this site.