Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Vegan Women's Shoes

Commenting on Facebook about our earlier post about naming Shoes of Prey, Marion, Lara and Jess raised the issue of making vegan shoes rather than shoes made from animal leather. They hit on an issue that's also important to me, I prefer the idea of using man made materials in shoes where the quality is just as good and I'd put it on my to do list to research this after our launch.

Their comments had this back at the front of my mind while I was in China 2 weeks ago meeting with our supplier so I raised the issue with them. They said they don't currently stock the materials to make a completely vegan shoe but that it's possible to source the materials to do this.

Once we finalise a name and launch the business, assuming things go well I'll be exploring this option some more. I think it would be great to offer people the option to custom make a vegan shoe.

Thanks for the feedback Marion, Lara and Jess!


  1. Good on ya foxy! That is a great plan bro. Good for the environment, the cows and your karma...trifecta.

  2. Have it as an option but I suspect it would be bad for business to do away with leather completely. For a product like shoes I think you'd be fighting against a common perception (irrespective of the reality, which I'm not qualified to argue) that generally leather goods = quality and synthetic = cheap & nasty substitute.

  3. you do it, and natalie portman just may design for you...



  4. I think it's a great niche market. There's a place in Melbourne that charge a BUCKET LOAD for their shoes: www.veganwares.com.au - I've thought about ordering shoes from there, even though I'm a committed animal killer and meat eater, just because it looks cool.

    And, if you market it well, you won't have that perception of non-leather = bad-quality at all.

    Now, back to my steak.

  5. My two cents the first thing that pops into my mind when I hear the word "vegan" is dirty hippy. Not sure if that's good?!

  6. Hi guys, thanks for your thoughts. :)

    Cam - you almost sound pleased enough to buy yourself a pair of vegan women's shoes for yourself! ;)

    Colin, Vicky and Marion - good points, it will definitely be important to get the marketing right if we do this. Apparently it's possible to get man made shoe materials that are as good quality as leather, but they cost more than leather, so we'll need to make sure that comes across in the marketing and positioning. Perhaps 'vegan shoes' isn't the right name, will have to explore that some more.

    Jose - great links, thanks! That's a shame that her site didn't work out. Might be a long shot but if we do this we'll definitely try to get in touch with Natalie, that would be awesome!

  7. Do vegan shoes have to be synthetic? I know Caitlin had a pair of shoes made from "fruit leather", which I understood to mean they were a bit like a roll-up. Maybe something like that? Or something resin based? A banana lead derivative.

    Personally, I think it would be a brilliant approach. It has an obvious niche market at present and massive potential in the future as the Hindu world gets richer and richer.

  8. Nice Julian, I've not heard of fruit leathers but that would be very interesting. I'll start exploring when I'm next in China. :)

  9. I'm vegan. (additionally i shave, i'm not a huge fan of lentils, i shower, i don't have dreadlocks and i appreciate a well crafted shoe that lasts longer than one season) Currently I shop online with alternative outfitters www.alternativeoutfitters.com/clothing/vegan/womens-shoes.aspx because synthetic store bought shoes are, as a general rule, terribly made. Synthetics are tough and durable enough - where a lot on non-leather shoes fall down is in their craftsmanship. Thrown together in some factory in china in under 20 minutes isn't going to make for a good shoe whether it's animal skin, plastic or canvas. I cherish and support businesses that are prepared to move with the times so thanks for taking these preferences into consideration. Compassion is always good for business! :) "Beyond Skin" in the UK are already doing it and their shoes are gorgeous: www.beyondskin.co.uk

  10. Elizabeth SarmientoMarch 19, 2010 at 3:20 PM

    well i recently discovered shoes of prey and i absolutely adore the website as well as the entire concept but i'm not sure that i agree with shoes of prey becoming completely vegan. don't get me wrong, i completely love animals and do feel bad when i think about the fact that a poor animal died to provide the world wit...h a shoe. however, unless the vegan ones can imitate pretty closely the look of the natural ones, such as with the fish and snake skin, they might seem less appealing to some of the buyers. more so if the price of the shoe should increase as a result. perhaps offering both options, vegan and natural, might be more beneficial. it might make for something more interesting and attractive to the site as well. just sharing. thanks for listening.

  11. Hi Elizabeth. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and we agree, when we're able to offer vegan shoes we want to give customers the choice - they can design a completely vegan shoe if they want, but the options we currently have will still be available for customers to choose from. :)

  12. Can't wait! Can't wait!
    Though I just got a question in my head while I was reading the blog.
    If you put the options "vegan leather" are there going to be different types of it?
    Because for example I love "suede leather" and I'd love vegan-suede materials [:

  13. Hi Alyssa, good point about having different vegan material options, like vegan-suede as well as vegan-patent leather etc. I'm sure that's possible so I'll try to hunt those out for you.

  14. Interestingly, a lot people selling and wearing "vegan" or "high quality" PU / faux-leather products are completely unaware that many of those materials are backed using lower-layer animal leather.

    The canvas backed PU is harder and has no stretch. Most people can't stand wearing it because it's bad for your feet...uncomfortable too.

    Making vegan fake leathers, mostly oil derivatives, is such a complicated process no one asks enough/any questions about it.

  15. Interesting, thanks Chris, we'll make sure we watch out for those things. It's definitely proving to be a long and difficult process. We're in the process of researching glues at the moment to confirm they don't contain any animal products in them, trying to go back through that supply chain is an interesting task. We also need different glues for different materials, and glues need to be bought in minimum quantity amounts, so it's not going to be a cheap exercise to set up either.

    Given Stella McCartney's efforts it seems it can be done though...