When it comes to buying clothes and accessories I often find it overwhelming and sometimes challenging to reconcile my love of fashion with my ethics. As a vegan I have donated most leather products I’ve ever been gifted and I don’t buy any myself, nor do I opt for fur, suede, silk or wool. For a while that’s as far as I went, but as time goes on I want to do the best I can with the purchasing power I am lucky to have. I’m not perfect, I sometimes buy basics from fast fashion brands out of convenience or because the price is right, so this series is not about me sitting on a pedestal trying to shame anyone’s purchases. I am however trying to live a more conscious lifestyle myself and whilst I’m not fully there yet, I still think it might be helpful to share my journey and the brands I discover along the way.
Whilst my love of animals (and humans, the tanning process is toxic, often exploitative and has big environmental implications) means don’t want to buy leather, I know that leather is a durable product. I might be sparing animals, but if I go through 4 pairs of synthetic boots in the time I would go through one pair of leather, which is the better option for the environment? If the synthetic boots I purchase come from a cheaper, fast fashion brand, who made them? Do they live a life of exploitation so that I can buy cheap faux leather boots and pat myself on the back because they aren’t leather? It’s a struggle and a question I ask myself all the time.
I have drastically reduced my consumption of clothes in general in recent years, thinking longer about purchases and trying not to contribute to the impulsive, throwaway culture of buying a huge bag of primark clothes that would sit unloved months later, tags still remaining. We churn out things at an alarming rate these days, and it has an impact on not only our planet but the people who inhabit it. That £6 top might be a bargain but there is a hidden cost and we all know what it is. So what are we to do when we want to try our best, find good quality pieces that don’t exploit people or kill animals and we only have so much money to spend? It feels impossible, right?
Well, I’ve been digging my way through ethical fashion brands and I’m going to share the gems with you guys, starting with some sturdy, warm, practical winter boots. I was in dire need of a good pair of boots that could see me through the colder months and more importantly, last! I want to make solid investments and don’t mind spending double or triple the price of high street boots if I know they will stand the test of time and have come from a good company with decent ethics. I know this isn’t possible for everyone, again this is not meant to make people feel guilty about their own purchases but for those of you in a position to make these choices, or who want to save for an investment purchase, I hope these help.
Below you can find my picks including the dreamy grey Dock Boots that I decided to go for…
1. Rakin boots by NAE (€135) Made in Portugal from ‘pineapple leather’ Piñatex, a natural material made from pineapple leaf fibres.
2. Dock Boots by Wills Vegan Shoes (£82) Ethically made in Portugal in a carbon neutral process, water resistant and breathable
3. Chestnut Chelsea Boots by Wills Vegan Shoes (£85) Water resistant and breathable, made from recycled rubber.
4. Etna boots by NAE (€155) Another pair made from Piñatex, the super exciting pineapple leather. Durable, water resistant and breathable.
5. Aimee Chelsea boots from Bourgeois Boheme (£205) Breathable, hand crafted, waterproof and made from pineapple leather – I think this is the future!
What are your thoughts on ethical fashion? Do you like to invest and buy quality or are you a slave to fast fashion? I’d love to hear your thoughts! I’ve got lots more ethical footwear coming up including formal boots, heels, trainers and sandals. If there are any other ethical edits you’d like to see, please let me know in the comments and I’ll get hunting!