What constitutes a great shoe? To me, it’s one that’s übercute, comfortable (although I confess to having a few pairs of “10-minute shoes” that I can’t live without), and not made of dead animals. And if it happens to benefit a great cause, well, that’s the polish on the perfect pair. So I’m pumped up to get PETA‘s first shoe, the Gatsby, made in collaboration with the hipster vegan shoe aficionados at Macbeth Footwear.
peta2 (PETA’s youth division) is partnering with Macbeth to release the shoe for its “The First Step” campaign to encourage people to purchase a pair of cruelty-free shoes as their first step toward helping to stop cruelty to animals. The Gatsby even features peta2’s logo and the words “Free for All” in its insole. So whenever people slip them on, they will be reminded that they are sparing cows, goats, sheep, and pigs (all of whom are used for leather) from having their throats slit and often being skinned and dismembered while still conscious.
And it seems that a lot of shoe-aholics already share that sentiment, judging by the fact that vegan shoes for men and women are about as common as wrestling matches at DSW. From animal-friendly running shoes by top brands such as Nike and New Balance to Kenneth Cole’s dashing men’s dress shoes and from fun and colorful Steve Madden shoes to Stella McCartney’s I’ve-died-and-gone-to-shoe-heaven stilettos, nonleather shoes abound in every style and at every price point. Designers are becoming quite adept at mimicking exotic-animal skin shoes, too. We can now purchase a pair of “alligator” shoes for which no alligators were skinned alive, “ostrich” flats for which no ostriches had their throats slashed, and “snakeskin” heels that weren’t made by nailing snakes to trees and ripping their skin off.
Designers are hearing consumers’ demands for cruelty-free shoes in a way that’s as clear as a Lucite slip-on. And it’s a good thing, because I value footwear too much to stick my toes inside a shoe that was made from a once-living being. Not even for 10 minutes.