“With all due respect, Enid, men I may not know, but shoes – shoes, I know.”
I loved this epic Sex and the City scene where Carrie is criticized by VOGUE editor Enid – “what does Carrie Bradshaw know about shoes?” – and replied with this line that asserts her as the shoe genius we know and love. The six seasons of the show are punctuated by “Carrie heart shoes” moments: Carrie gets married to herself and registers only for a pair of Manolos. Carrie gets an email address with the nickname “Shoegal”. Carrie requests a pair of shoes so high for her “real people” fashion show that she actually trips and falls during her runway walk. And the most iconic shoe reference of all – Mr. Big proposes to Carrie with a pair of blue Manolos instead of a ring. Every girl I know gushed over that scene because, let’s face it, shoes are our weakness. Few other accessories are such powerful tools of self-expression as the ones we put on our feet.
For compassionate Shoegals, finding crushworthy styles has never been easier – brands like Beyond Skin, Stella McCartney and OlsenHaus make shoe shopping so devastatingly easy that we’re approaching wallet-danger territory. Another example: PETA UK’s recent collaboration with BeyondSkin - a leather-free shoe designing competition. We’re already dying to buy winner Alice Lambert-Gorwyn’s gorgeous design:
But what if you’ve just recently gone vegan? Or if you have a few good pairs but are still a far cry from that perfect shoe collection?
The way I see it, being vegan or eco-conscious is no excuse to wear dreary shoes (nothing is, unless you’re obliged to use some kind of work uniform) – it’s an occasion to show the world your wicked and wonderful sense of style.
“The key to creating a cruelty-free shoe wardrobe is to start gradually”, advises Heather Whipple, Head of Marketing at BeyondSkin. “Invest in key pieces that will suit your needs. Don’t feel overwhelmed to replace all of your styles in one go, you can start at a pace that suits you and your lifestyle. Maybe start with a key work shoe, or a fabulous party shoe, or a day boot to get your ultimate cruelty-free wardrobe underway, then treat yourself each season.”
So what are the key pieces every compassionista needs in her shoe rack? Our picks:
1. The Sophisticated Sandal – wear this with a show-stopping dress and you will turn heads. Trust us. Stella McCartney
2. The Party Piece – aside from eliciting about a hundred “I can’t believe it’s not leather!” comments a night, this pair will totally put you in the mood to dance the night away. OlsenHaus
3. The Little Black Shoe – job interview? First date? This is the shoe for life’s bigger occasions, one that makes sure you’re remembered – for all the right reasons. Krze Studio
4. The Conversation Starter – love to be stopped in the street and asked where you got that? Then this is the shoe for you. Beyond Skin
5. The One with an Attitude – peep-toe meets wedge in monochrome with a few spikes thrown in? It can be done. And cruelty-free, too. Cri de Coeur
6. The Biker Babe - unleash your inner punk princess. We all have one. Yes, even you in the pink lacy dress. NAE at Compassion Couture
7. The Boy-meets-Girl – it’s masculine, but yet very girly. Pair this pair with skinny jeans and see for yourself. Sylvia Green at MooShoes
8. The Classic – you probably already own ten pairs, but did you know that the world’s favourite sneakers are cruelty free? Converse at Schuh
9. The Grunge Gorgeous – they’re high-tech, easy to wear and super comfortable. What’s not to love? Vegetarian Shoes at MooShoes