With the world hotting up/cooling down and media focus on the Climate change its hard to not feel slightly guilty every time you get a plastic bag or forget to recycle your newspaper, but how easy is it to save to world and look good?
Starting from the bottom and shoes. The main issue with world friendly shoes is, do you buy a biodegradable leather shoe, and bear the burden of slaughter, or opt for squeaky plastic shoes that have more air miles than an airhostess and a yeti sized carbon footprint.
There aren’t any obvious options.
I researched vegan and vegetarian shoes but in fashion, women are generally vegan for the health/diet benefits not to save the animals and this shows in the shoes offered.
People with such strict morals have a shockingly small selection of style options. My mother and I, both life-long vegetarians, have always worn leather shoes as no other obvious options were made available, spotting a Vegetarian Shoe Shop in Brighton was fantastic but the prices were crazy and the shoes hideous.
I don’t want a pair of trainers that are going to bio-degrade as I wait for a bus in the drizzle. I don’t want hemp flip flops that attract water and itch my feet.
I want ‘killer’ heels that haven’t been made by a 3 year old in Tibet, made of ghastly plastic synthetics that cost the world half a rainforest or the hide of a poor defenceless animal that was still breathing as the shoes hit the shop floor.
I found SimpleShoes.com – a recommended online store for ethical shoes to be dull and the selection of shoes manly and unflattering. The only option according to this site was canvass trainers or flip flops, yet again not what I want and I reckon I’m not alone.
The search went on…
I found a beautiful creator of ethical shoes that use locally sourced materials in their Alicante Based factory as well as organic Romanian Hemp and Italian faux leather. Ok, so there are air miles involved but the general feeling here is good and the designs are gorgeous, the company have even featured in Marie Claire.
The company is called Beyond Skin.
“Beyond Skin is an exclusive, eco friendly footwear label creating beautiful, stylish shoes that are produced in a manner that is non-exploitative to humans, animals and wherever possible the wider environment.” – Beyond Skin.
I was thrilled to find a pair of flat pointy, pale blue shoes called ‘Jemima’ (that’s me…) but they were just too cute and flat, probably suitable for my dodgy knees and ankles but the lack of heel put me off and £111 for a pair of namesake, pumps was a little out of my price range.
My favourite pair by far was a round toed, 1940’s style, T-bar sandal with a 3 ½ inch heel, not exactly a bargain at the sale price of £88.20 and I couldn’t help but notice that the organic cotton denim sourced in the USA means these shoes, gorgeous as they are, don’t fit my Eco Shoe Criteria!
For More Information log onto www.beyondskin.co.uk
Next my next stop on my Eco-Shoe trip was a website called Ethical Wares. Their selection of men’s shoes is great offering many different styles and all not made from leather. The site claims to “not exploit animals, humans or the wider environment” but I couldn’t find out what the shoes were made of, or where some of them came from, this left me wondering if the shoes were damaging the environment by being made of anything other than leather. I found out later that the shoes are made from European grown Hemp – not, i am assured, chinese hemp. II’m not sure what the difference is but the airmiles must be less. A micro fibre called Lorica is also used. This is not a plastic. They have a ‘Best Online Cruelty Free Retailer’ Award from P.E.T.A (people for the ethical treatment of animals). My top shoe here was a rather alternative mans shoe, ‘(positively) No Comment’ is a winkle-picker boot with a front zip and strap buckles. It looks a mixture or Mod style and Goth and I love it! They also remind me of a range I saw in All Saints recently… but better priced at only £68.95 compared to a possible £200 pair. For More information log onto www.ethicalwares.com
Another web-accessible, eco-Fashion site is Terra Plana which means ‘flat planet’. This site instantly interests me; it is fresh, trendy and reminds me of Levis adverts. They have a long description of their ethical values including this:
“Chrome free leathers, vegetable tanned leathers, recycled materials, pure latex soling materials, recycled rubber soles and recycled foam foot beds. Terra Plana also introduces E-leather. An eco revolutionary leather by-product. E-leather is a unique blend of leather and textile fibres intimately ‘re-woven’ and finished so it is practically indistinguishable from good quality leather. E-Leather is produced with closed loop water usage and best practice pollution prevention methods.”
Baffling? Yeah… I didn’t understand either but from this I decide that these guys know their stuff and start browsing.
Once again I am not impressed. I swear I am not fussy when it comes to shoes… by the age of 16 I owned 35 pairs but I am finding it hard to be interested in any so far despite the fancy inter-re-woven-closed-loop-leather stuff. I did find a few pairs that were quite nice including gladiator style sandals at the sale price of £40 and a pair of ankle boots called ‘Lauren’-one of the most expensive on the site, which start at around £30 and end around £200. The boot is comprised of vegetable tanned leather, a 9cm heel and made from recycled Bangladeshi and Pakistani quilts. I can’t help but feel sorry for the people whose quilts I would be wearing on my feet.
In the ‘more information’ section on the site I find out that it ticks many eco boxes including: being locally sourced, recycled, lightweight (saves on shipping costs apparently) and even contains a memory foam sole, I can’t help but think this is just a little luxurious but wouldn’t mind if I could put memory foam in my favourite heels to cushion my permanently blistered feet! For More Information Log On to www.teraplana.com
I finally found my perfect collection (almost).
Hetty Rose’s shoes are stunning. They are made of vintage, recycled kimonos and therefore come in a huge spectrum of colours and styles. These shoes are stylish, eco friendly and crazy-looking. The latter I love… wearing a pair of talking point shoes is another way to promote eco-ethi-fashion! My favourite pair is 11cm high, with covered block heels and a round toe. But there is a But. A leather lining and sole. These shoes are one offs, made to measure so I feel confident that if anyone asked especially nicely Hetty would make them without the leather. It may add a little more trouble but I see no problem with these stunning shoes and believe the vintage recycled materials cancel out the leather. Almost.
For More information Log onto www.hettyrose.co.uk
Next Time: Ethical Accessories!
Words By Jemima Compton
Photographs Copy Right of
With Thanks to the Designers and Sites for providing Images