We Promise This Vegan Leather Won’t Make You Cringe
Actually, it might make you rejoice.
Let’s dispel one of thee biggest perpetuated myths about the fashion industry right here, right now: leather is not exclusively a byproduct of the meat/beef industry. Millions of cows in India and other third-world countries breed, raise, and slaughter cows specifically for their skin. The truth is, we like to use the “they’re going to kill them for meat anyway” excuse, but it’s not the case for the majority of the cows that are used for leather, especially in the luxury realm.
Some will argue that there is an ethical way to make leather. It’s the same fallacy that there’s some kind of way to make ethical cheese. (More on that, here.)
As soon as we decided to commit to a vegan lifestyle (first step was switching to a 100% plant-based diet) the hypocrisy of our fashion goals gave us the side eye. Growing up bargain hunting for sport, leather wasn’t just a material to us. Nor was it the tanned skin of a dead carcass. It was the sign that we made it, a symbol (albeit insanely superficial) of success. Leather and luxury are synonymous. But where’s the glamour in wearing the skin of animals who were beaten, tortured and slaughtered? No, really? Before we go on ranting about how we all need to redefine what luxury means and individualize it for out own beliefs, ethics, and morals, we won’t digress too much.
To be fair, there are some
decent arguments people use to defend wearing leather even when you’re vegetarian or vegan or, at the least, ethically conscious: Leather is more durable. Most faux leather looks cheap/gaudy. PVC is dangerous to the planet. While those points are all good and true, the thing that usually goes unsaid is that leather is extremely hazardous to the environment. According to PETA, the majority of leather is chrome-tanned. This is key because: “All wastes containing chromium are considered hazardous by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.” It’s not just the environment that suffers because of our excessive leather use either, because toxic groundwater near tanneries causes health problems for residents in surrounding areas.
One of the main hesitations (actually the only one) about quitting leather was the obvious: we didn’t want to wear cheap, ugly shit. Period. We wanted well-made, high-quality pieces just like the genuine leather counterparts. And they definitely do exist. It is by no means ubiquitous, as a lot of faux leather is cheap fast fashion. But all vegan leather isn’t crap, we promise. You just have to break a little sweat and do a bit of hunting. Stella McCartney, anyone? SM has definitely been the ultimate pioneer for vegan handbags, but the four-figure price tags for most of her collections? Not so realistic for everyone. That’s why we went out searching for an affordable, everyday handbag and guys, we’ve found one from a dope brand that we think this brand is changing the game.
Will’s Vegan Shoes is a London-based company that uses high-quality faux leather for their collection of shoes and handbags. The texture of their City Bag is so on point and it even smells something like leather. Weird, we know. The quality is great and we love the brand because they’re proving that “ethical” isn’t an aesthetic and that’s something we champion all day, every day.
So let’s talk the leather.
First, Will’s Vegan Shoes is a PETA-approved brand, and we always love that. One thing that everyone adores about high-quality leather is how durable yet soft it is. Well, same goes for this faux leather. A lot of it is hard and stiff, which for a bag wouldn’t be that problematic, but for shoes? It’s a nightmare. The Will’s Vegan Shoes collection is all made with a synthetic fiber that is seriously as soft as any animal skin and completely breathable. The Italian microfiber used in all the designs are also water resistant, which is a bonus. We love that everything is made ethically in Portugal as well, which is rare to see because a lot of the fast fashion-type brands who use faux leather are actually made in sweatshops in third world countries.
We hope there are more bag styles coming soon to Will’s collection, but did we mention that the shoes are amazing too? Well, we’ve curated our top picks from the collection below so have fun perusing.
Based In | London
Ethics | 100% PETA-certified vegan, workers protected by European employment and safety law
Best For | Affordable, stylish and durable shoes for women and men
Product Range | Men’s and women’s shoes, boots, sneakers, bags, wallets and belts
Price Range | $$ – $$$
Top Picks | City Bag, Chealsea Boots Black
If you haven’t checked out how to curate a cruelty-free wardrobe, check out this step-by-step guide.
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**FTC: this post is not sponsored and no compensation was received, however product was sent to us. Opinions are our own, of course.**