Last month, animals lovers were elated by the announcement, from Gucci’s CEO Marco Bizzarri, that the iconic Italian label was banning fur. Ceasing production, selling off remaining fur items in a charity auction. Finito.
Messages poured in from around the world, congratulating Gucci on adding a really significant heft to the growing number of luxury fashion houses including Giorgio Armani and Calvin Klein, who are going fur-free.
But amongst those accolades, the odd voice could be heard saying, “now, what about leather?” Quite.
Because, while the raising of animals for fur is horrific, it can’t match the scale and brutality of the leather industry.
Every year, more than a billion animals are killed for their skins, often in countries when animal welfare is considered a frivolity. In these places, to save time and money, animals are often skinned while still conscious.
That’s before you take into account the high carbon footprint and high pollution levels of the leather industries and the immense tolls taken on worker’s health. Think rivers running black with effluents from tanneries and men and women with chemical-caused skin disease (read more about the leather industry here).
During London Fashion Week 2017, activists from campaign group Labour Behind the Label protested to highlight the deadly use of toxic chemicals in the tanning industry that puts workers lives at risk.
As Stella McCartney said to vogue.com, “People will look back and say, ‘Really? That’s what they did to make a pair of shoes, seriously?’”
As understanding of the enormous toll that leather takes on people, planet and animals grows, so, gloriously, do the number of options.
To celebrate World Vegan Month, co-founder of ethical creatives agency Novel Beings Alice Wilby and I got together to demonstrate the gorgeous alternatives to having a cow skinned for a pair of heels: vegan accessories that, quite literally, don’t cost the earth.
From Bourgeois Boheme’s pretty cork leather trainers to Po Zu’s glittery silver sneakers, made from a sleek pineapple leather called Pinatex; from the plant based micro fibres of Ivana Basilotta’s impossibly glamorous pumps to the Will’s sharp patent loafers, made from Italian faux patent leather micro fibre uppers: each these designers have taken a journey through conventional footwear through to its kinder vegan response. We celebrate them here. Enjoy them with us.