The Louboutin pump is a fashion legend. Recogniseable by their telltale firetruck red soles and sky-high six inch heels, these are fashion must-haves that have countless women fighting over them. Some will save for years just to secure a pair, and we can see why: Louboutins are classic. They’re polished. They’re sexy. They go with everything. There’s just one problem: they are definitely not vegan.
Luckily, you no longer need to custom order a pair of vegan Louboutins to get your hands on a cruelty-free pair. That could run you upwards of $3,400, almost five times what a non-vegan version would cost. Vegan fashionistas can now rely on Coquette, a 100% vegan company that makes Louboutin-style pumps at the significantly lower price of around $200 each. This young design house is cranking out pair after pair of beautiful, high-quality, animal-friendly skyscraper-high kicks that elevate vegan fashion and make it accessible to the mainstream.
From inspiration to idea
Founder Bebe Mehr started Coquette in 2014 after being frustrated by the lack of vegan options with a style factor as high as their heels. She is inspired by brands like Stella McCartney and Yves Saint Laurent, known for classic feminine lines and bold minimalism. At the time, she had just relocated from Arizona to Los Angeles and moved her successful boutique online. She had always been obsessed with Louboutin shoes, and when she couldn’t find an affordable vegan option to stock in her store, she decided to make her own. Sacrificing on either style or ethics was never an option. As Bebe says, “I don’t eat meat, and I don’t want to wear leather, either.”
Bebe set out to create a Louboutin-inspired pump completely free of animal materials and animal byproducts. A close family friend recommended a factory they had used in China to manufacture similar shoes. It was a great match. As Bebe says, “They’re really on the cutting edge of technology. They’re on top of everything.” Together, they began searching for materials that would meet Bebe’s standards for quality and comfort.
Easy-care materials and high-end designs
After sampling numerous materials, Bebe settled on a PU leather made from a mix of microfiber and polyurethane. As Bebe says, “It’s a great material. It can get wet, it can be cleaned easily, and, most importantly, it can last just as long as real leather.”
With the materials secured, Bebe set about finalising the design of the shoe itself. She added extra cushioning on the inside to make the shoes more comfortable, and designed a second style called Muse with a slightly lower profile. With the designs finalised, she placed the initial order for 10 colours and two styles of pumps. Coquette was born.
Coquette shoes are still made with love from start to finish using the same factory that ran the original order of shoes. Bebe loves that she can maintain a close relationship with the factory owner, and that they speak regularly. It’s important to Bebe that the shoes have an ethical supply chain, which is why Coquette keeps going back to the same factory year after year.
Taking care of the details
Even the glues used in each Coquette box are vegan. Bebe makes sure that everything about buying a pair of Coquette shoes is a luxury experience, from placing the initial order to receiving the package and opening the box for the first time. The brand’s strategic LA locations means that Coquette stays current and plugged into the fashion world.
Coquette’s broader mission is to make high fashion accessible to more vegans. As Bebe notes, most high fashion designers are not vegan-friendly, and the few vegan options that are on the market are not high-end. As Bebe explains, “Frequently, vegan stuff is generally a cost-cutting mechanism. A lot of vegan shoes out there aren’t as comfortable as the non-vegan versions.” That’s what Coquette is trying to change.
Coquette’s plans for the future include releasing an entirely new line of 10-15 styles of shoes, including boots, flats, loafers, and heels. Bebe is also considering faux-fur coats, and maybe bags. She’s going where the need is. As Bebe says, “It’s hard — I see a beautiful bag and I don’t want to buy it because of the horror behind it. I want to expand into coats and bags. People just need the option to buy better. If they’re offered options, it doesn’t even matter that it’s vegan.
Bebe believes that offering shoppers more vegan options is a great way to reduce animal suffering and help people make more ethical purchasing decisions. As she says, “I don’t think we need to sacrifice style or quality to do the right thing. I think more people would be on board to that if we do it the right way.”