At the beginning of the year, I decided that I would stop purchasing any leather, including pre-owned. As a vegan and animal lover, it eventually felt hypocritical of me to be able to hit pause on my morals at Gucci. I say eventually because my path to this point has not been straight. I was probably the most extreme as a teenager (aren’t we all), then I gave into societal pressure in my twenties (also typical) and then found my way back to what I thought was a balanced sort of empathy and activism in my late twenties / early thirties. I gave up meat, dairy, fish, honey and for the most part, only shopped pre-owned leather. People still gifted me leather items, but I considered that a loophole.
Overall, I was checking things off at a pace I was comfortable with, and that worked for me. Whenever I make a significant change in my life, I tend to know I’m doing it months before I commit. It’s easier for me to dial it back slowly and then have a nice smooth and successful transition than to do something cold turkey, but I always have a plan in the back of my mind. So, in the year leading up to my leather-ban, I had been scaling back tremendously and exploring vegan options in an attempt to soften the blow.
It’s been nearly six months, and I’ve stuck to my word. I’ve also managed to swap out some fabulous shoes and boots for incredible, vegan alternatives. I’ve even let go of (sold or gifted to friends) shoes I loved and couldn’t replace just because they seemed frivolous. What I’m left with is about ten pairs of leather shoes. I’ve thought long and hard about what to do with these, and I’ve decided that I want to keep them.
Out of the group, two pairs are almost 10 years old and would just end up in landfill, many have sentimental value to me and others are just great shoes that I don’t see myself replacing. A couple aren’t leather – but the sole is leather because when I first hopped on this bandwagon I figured if a shoe was satin, it was vegan. I was clearly not digging deep enough, but that’s how I started. At the end of the day, keeping these means that I’m not being wasteful or consuming needlessly. I already own these items, the animal has already suffered and the damage has been done. Wearing them (despite my ego telling me that I lose vegan points for doing so) is the most sustainable thing and reasonable thing to do. I’m not closing the door on replacing them with a cruelty-free alternative, I’m just saying no to dumping them and buying new just for the sake of buying.
I did briefly talk about the great vegan options that I have found over the last few months, so I thought I would document both sides of the collection and include them in this post. You can see that what I’m hanging onto from my past life is mostly heeled sandals, and what I’ve managed to find as a vegan shopper are mostly flats and booties. I love my vegan shoes for everyday wear, but only a couple of them have any sex appeal, so I’m still on the hunt for the perfect vegan heel. If you know of an ethical, sustainable and vegan brand that makes great shoes, please share!