A Vegan's Right to (Good) Shoes
The holiday season is fast approaching and Jon and I wanted to get some ideas for things we might like to get. Whether those things might be for each other remains to be seen.
We stopped by MooShoes on the Lower East Side to have a look at the shop and the various products tucked in nicely on the shelves and hopefully get inspired for some gift-giving ideas. MooShoes is a vegan-owned business that sells an assortment of cruelty-free footwear, bags, wallets, shirts, books and other accessories. They pride themselves on their customer service and it's easy to see why. Their employees are courteous, knowledgeable, and helpful. (Shout out to Neysha who we had an impassioned chat with about fur.)
For me, shoes fall under the "self care" category in life. If you can afford it, it can be an easy way to add to a lackluster wardrobe - a "foot-lift", if you will.
Vegans face a unique struggle, especially when it comes to finding a quality, stylish pair of shoes. As with food, vegans do not wear clothes, shoes, and accessories that were made using animal-derived materials, such as wool, suede or leather, to name a few. Given how much products are made using animal-derived materials, many people assume that the selection for vegan-friendly fashion is extremely limited, which is not totally untrue.
In fact, most people who recently became vegan do not realize how much of their closet has products that use these materials, and more often than not, are faced with the ethical dilemma of having to get rid of these items.
For some, it can be an easy transition. I've heard of some people who managed to either donate or upcycle their non-vegan items without a sweat. For the majority of us, who have either a practical reason or an emotional attachment to these products, it can be quite hard. There have been posts written from fellow vegan bloggers about the need for them to keep non-vegan products, whether it be because of financial reasons (it can be highly unrealistic to transition to an all-vegan wardrobe overnight), practical reasons (either your job requires you to have a professional-looking wardrobe or the weather demands it), or even ethical reasons (some vegan products are not made through an ethical production chain).
To be completely honest, the shoe selection for vegans is miniscule compared to non-vegans. This can also be a reason why vegans choose to keep non-vegan relics from their past: aesthetics. While credit is due to some big brands that offer vegan items outright (i.e. Stella McCartney and Doc Martens), most of the shoes that vegans wear have either come from smaller brands like Brave Gentleman and Novacas or through non-vegan brands that just so happen to accidentally make their shoes vegan-friendly.
Why is it, in this day and age, where people have discovered ways to make a burger patty that is made completely out of plants to "bleed" or make a fabric to have the same properties as leather but is made completely from mushrooms, that we still don't have a wider and more varied selection of shoes? It can sometimes be quite puzzling to me, especially since the demand is there. Unlike popular opinion, just because vegans are passionate about our ethics does not mean we want to compromise our style. So I am writing this post, directly aimed at shoe and clothing designers alike, make more fashionable options for vegans!
To paraphrase a statement by Carrie Bradshaw, "the fact is, sometimes it's really hard to walk in a [vegan's] shoes. That's why we really need really special ones now and then to make the walk a little more fun."
In the meantime, check out MooShoes for their current selection of stylish footwear and accessories, all of which are available now. Check out their website here.