The Clean Hippie

Seeking the sustainable life in New York City

Vegan shoes. Ethical or a rip-off? November 1, 2009

Filed under: experiment,green angst,Green fashion,Places to go — Alden @ 11:56 pm
Tags: , , ,


I like leather. I like how soft and smooth and nice it feels on my feet as it hugs them on a cold day. I like the way it looks when it’s stitched with heavy thread and studded with metal rivets. It seems substantial, like it’s a real investment in my wardrobe that will last long enough for me to hand it to my daughter some day.


I also like fur. I like the way it softly caresses my neck and shields me from an icy wind. I have fond memories of snuggling into my mother’s wolf and rabbit floor-length fur coat. When she wore it, it meant we had a special night out to the ballet, to a play, to the symphony. It meant a delicious dinner at a fancy restaurant all the way in Baltimore or D.C. – or when I was even younger – the Nutcracker in Raleigh. I associate fur with a new flouncy dress and a special trip to New York to see The Lion King and The Phantom of the Opera, and eating from the biggest buffet I’d ever seen at the Plaza.


This is why it was a real stretch for me to seek out and go into a vegan shoe shop called Moo Shoes on the Lower East Side. I have no moral issues with fur or leather. But I figured that if eating less meat is good for the environment, buying less leather must be too.


First, let me make something clear. I would never be a vegan. Vegans say pearls and silk are bad. I never heard of torturing silk worms to make them produce more silk. They also can’t eat dairy products. That’s just silly. Someone in Germany even asked me if it’s true that a vegan will wait for an apple to fall off the tree before they will eat it. Ummm, hope not!


So here I am at Moo Shoes, trying to be open-minded. Moo Shoes is such a stereotype in action. They had No Meat! buttons piled in bins, posters, stickers everywhere. The girls behind the counter were surly and unkempt. Not exactly inspirational fashion plates. Though I did enjoy petting one of the two cats.


I picked up a pair of booties, the ones in the picture above, to try on. Look closely at the picture. If you have ever experienced leather shoes with thick stitching and stacked wooden heels, you can tell just from the picture that these are not high-quality shoes. They didn’t feel high-quality either. When forced my feet into the plastic casing, they chafed against the inside. The shoes felt brittle. In short, they felt like $30 shoes from J.C. Penny’s junior section.


But I rationalized. “If they’re cheap,” I thought, “I can wear them and wear them out and it doesn’t matter! I’ll save money and save the environment. ” So I turned the box around to look at the price.


$129. Seriously? I yanked the shoes off my feet, put them back in the box, and marched out of the store. The shop girls who were ignoring me, mostly, seemed happy to see me go. They might have noticed my trusty black leather purse that I’ve carried for four years. It still looks fashionable and perfect.


I suppose they were just jealous.


If you want to read a laughable article where someone extolls the virtues of vegan fashion (you can still wear denim bustiers apparently, thank GOD) check out this site.


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