I have spoken before about how leather seems to by synonymous with quality and durability. It is almost a right of passage to head off to get your first pair of leather shoes as a kid, you wouldn’t be seen dead in anything other than leather shoes at an interview (bit ironic that something died so you could wear them though) and what even is an autumn wardrobe without a statement leather jacket? But if you are a vegan this raises some moral issues, obviously. I’m the kind of vegan that still wants to rock a pair of tan boots so one of the first things we did when we became vegan, was to start looking for places where we could buy alternatives for the products we loved. Our stance at the moment is that although we do have leather things in our house, we aren’t going to throw them away to replace them as that to us is just wasteful. As and when we need new things we will simply replace them with vegan leather alternatives.
We started looking online for places that sold vegan leather smart shoes for my husband first, as he wears leather shoes every day at the moment. The PETA website is great for finding vegan fashion alternatives and it was there that we stumbled across Wills Vegan Shoes. They sells mens, women and kids shoes in every style you could hope to find. We decided upon the Slim Soles Chestnut (smart brown work shoes) for Joe to wear both to work and to a wedding we have coming up. Delivery time was extremely fast and the customer service was excellent. The founder of the company (called Will, funnily enough) is determined to give people the means to make a ‘positive choice’ when it comes to fashion. He says on his website that all of his shoes will always be vegan and ethically made, which is exactly the kind of thing we were looking for.
We didn’t know what to expect with vegan leather and weren’t sure if it would be immediately obvious they weren’t real leather as we didn’t want them to look plasticky and cheap, I’m sure like me, you’ve all had experience with cheap ‘pleather’ before and it’s not good. I read so many online reviews before working with Wills Vegan Shoes and all of them talk about how long lasting and high quality the shoes are, so we had high hopes. As you can see from the picture below, they look great. You can’t tell they aren’t leather at all and the first thing my husband said when he put them on was ‘bloody hell these are padded and comfy inside’ so I think we can safely say they tick that box too. He has gone off to work wearing them today and I might be biased but I think he’s looking pretty snazzy. The shoes are made from Italian faux leather microfibre and have hand stitched latex insoles, they are also both breathable and water resistant as well as pretty damn dapper.
But let’s get down to the facts, depending on the manufacturer microfibre is generally more durable, less likely to fade and lose its colour and has better tensile strength than its animal hide counterpart. As for the shoes, I will be sure to update you on how they wear in, but it’s looking good because overall vegan leather seems to be durable than animal leather.
Next on the list will obviously be the matching belt (perhaps a fathers day present for my lovely hubby) and I think I will be checking out what is available in boot form ready for autumn too. Can I get away with buying loads of pairs of shoes for myself for the purposes of a review? They do sandals, trainers, boots, brogues…I’ll tell the husband it’s an ‘essential’ and hopefully not be questioned too heavily. They even have handbags and wash bags/make up bags!
So why aren’t all ‘leather’ items now vegan leather?!
Well, for some designers they are. People like Stella McCartney, Karen Millen and Vivienne Westwood use vegan leather in their shoes/clothing ranges and it only takes a few minutes of research to find some gorgeous boutique shops that are committed to not harming animals for the sake of fashion. I stumble across a gorgeous little vegan leather watch start up called Votch the other day and had to hide my purse to stop myself buying everything on there.
In terms of the environment, vegan leather is doing alright there too, though it isn’t perfect and there is still a way to go. I’m not going to lie to you and say that they are produced in a way that could be considered ‘green’ but they are certainly better than the quite frankly barbaric practise of using up resources to raise an animal, skinning it (alive in some cases) and then wearing it. Be wary of just buying cheap too, PVC is one of the materials used in cheap vegan leather and some ‘pleather’ shoes contain animal products in the glue, so be sure to check that the retailer is PETA approved.
*This is a collaborative post. We were provided with a pair of mens shoes in return for an honest review. I had already read great things about Wills Vegan Shoes and I am very excited to be working with them. I only work with brands that I believe in and would buy myself and this is most certainly one of them. Also, just to be clear we received nothing in return for mentioning Votch, I just thought they were great and wanted to share them with you.