so i’m veering off the beaten path today and not blogging about food. it’s not like i stopped eating or anything, i just haven’t made anything that wonderful and my camera is going to hell in a hand basket… anyways, it’s that time of the year again and i thought i would talk about vegan shopping, shoes, and other things that drive us batty:) fall is one of my most favorite seasons to shop. there’s something about pulling a sweater over your head or sliding into a pair of boots that makes me feel, cozy. maybe it’s the sign that the holidays are coming, or the next 5-8 months we can spend curled on the couch with thick stews, movies and the hubby, but either way, i like it a lot. the only thing i dislike as a vegan, is trying to find cruelty free clothes that are good looking, will hold up, and be more sustainable. its easy to find cotton t shirts, denim and basics, but high quality non leather shoes (not my 10$ payless flats!), beautiful wool free coats and purses that won’t snap off at the handle (it’s happened) are harder to find, especially at a decent price. i’ve done some internet scouring and am pleased to bring you 3 higher end options that are worth the splurge, and a few sites with super affordable basics. all are vegan run companies so you can avoid label related headaches, but i do enclose some tips for shoe shopping in real life;)
the first place i want to share is a handbag company called Matt & Nat, they make super nice vegan bags, purses and other accessories. the reason i’m talking about them is that they recently launched a recycled line composed of mostly recycled water bottles and a few other materials like paper and coated canvas. this is important to me because most shoes and bags that are non leather are still made of synthetic leather and plastics that can be petroleum derived and take a bajillion years to break down. now, whether or not the finished product, i.e. recycled handbags are recyclable or will break down is unknown to me, but at least they cut down on the crap already in landfills! these are actually moderately priced, super attractive and each description tells you exactly what went into the bag. my Matt & Nat favorites: http://www.mattandnat.com/product/display/855/1/SADE and http://www.mattandnat.com/product/display/885/1/FAIRBANK___
a new designer to me is OlsenHaus, i just checked their site out and was impressed by their materials statement which i enclosed below. yay for sustainability!
M A T E R I A L S :
Olsenhaus uses alternative, sustainable and renewable plant-based and man-made, non-animal materials such as: ultra suede,
organic cotton, canvas, nylon, velvet, linen, cork, and a synthetic eco-lining. We are 100% vegan: no leather, fur, wool or silk is ever used. Soles are a composite of rubber, glues are rubber-based and vegan, paint is vegan and non-toxic. Nothing is tested on animals. Olsenhaus continually searches for more innovative techniques and encourages our factories and suppliers to use safer processes. Synthetic and plant based materials account for far less pollution, and use only a fraction of the energy when compared to any leather. Most synthetics available today are flexible, breathable, and biodegradable. In addition, alternative materials are consistent in size, shape and thickness and therefore the entire piece is used, unlike a leather, which creates an enormous amount of waste.
my favorite pair: http://www.olsenhaus.com/shoe_blondie.html
another site i was just shown is Vaute Couture, the bill themselves as “an activist fashion label” that specializes in cold weather coats. i honestly think finding a quality, stylish vegan jacket to be even harder than finding shoes. the jackets come in two options, recyclable, or both recycled and recyclable! the only downside is that these are manufactured on a smaller scale with only 25 produced of each style, and start at around 300$. my favorite: http://www.vautecouture.com/p-40-pea-coat-preorder-recycled.aspx
so now that we’ve hit our bases, shoes, bags and jackets on a more high end, i would like to share some resources that may not be as green, but are still vegan and affordable. the first site is Alternative Outfitters, a one stop vegan shop specializing in shoes, accessories and beauty products. they have a “green” section showcasing shoes from j-14 and simple, but my favorite has to be their gigantic selection of wallets: http://www.alternativeoutfitters.com/apparel/accessories/vegan-wallets.aspx they also carry affordable coats! granted, you can purchase the majority of these items from zappos, or dsw or another mass retailer, but i like supporting small businesses, especially if they share the same ideals as me. http://www.alternativeoutfitters.com
ok, the next one is herbivore clothing, but this one’s different. they make statement shirts (which are always cool imo), and are an all vegan company located in a vegan mini mall in portland. yes! a vegan mall! you can get all the message shirts, stickers, buttons and cookbooks you want! my fav’s: http://herbivoreclothing.com/item/herbivore-cross-zip-up-unisex-hoodie
moo shoes, a new york based vegan shoe emporium. this comes full circle because they sell almost all of the above mentioned products and can hit any price point. and like most, they have cook books and other vegan accessories. the site is huge and will give you something to do on your lunch break!
last but not least, i wanted to mention a local company in the seward neighborhood of minneapolis, Fast and Furless. they are a wonderful little one stop vegan shop with cute bags, shoes, shirts, books and snacks! what they lack in size, they make up for in accessibility and affordability. cruise over and check them out! http://www.fastandfurless.com/visit
as far as shopping basics and label reading anywhere, its easy to spot words like leather, silk or wool but with shoes its much harder because either you have a hard to decipher tag in the tongue, or no tag at all. i was told by an employee at one store that any shoe with leather on it had to be labeled as such .i’ve always found that the best way to determine a shoes “ingredients” is to check the label in the tongue:
this is only label that i found online. the top square refers to the outer material, the second is inner materials and the last is the sole. the first 2 pics are a hide and stand for leather, the diamond can mean synthetic or rubber. avoid the hide. the symbol for fabric (can’t find any other pic) is of a cross hatched square. if you can’t find the label or the box doesn’t specify materials, i check with the company via the 1-800 number on the box. most sales persons are also willing to do some sleuthing because they want you to buy something, but some hate life and don’t want you to have pretty new shoes so BAH! to them! call the company or use the internets;) so there you have it, my rambling finds for fall clothes that are vegan and sometimes “eco friendly”.