You don’t have to dress like an eco-warrior to support sustainable fashion. While some of us choose rustic or boho styles that advertise our green outlook, there are many fashionistas who simply want to remain au courant without contributing to environmental disaster.
If you’re a city slicker, you may not have considered cork shoes, but sustainably-produced corkskin is the best leather substitute we have right now, while the cork look has established a place in the couture spotlight. Stuart Weitzman’s stunning spike-toed 4″ heels with statement cork outers and Monolo Blahnik’s multicoloured cork Paint-Splatter pumps are high-fashion examples. Who didn’t love Louboutin’s Highness cork peep-toe platforms? To support a business that’s actively working for more eco-friendly fashion footwear, consider also NAE’s cork platform heels, made from sustainably produced Portuguese corkskin via a CO2-free manufacturing process and also completely vegan.
Over the years, vegan shoemakers have been working to come up with more convincing faux leathers to allow even animal lovers to have decent shoes. But a conspicuously plastic look has also become more fashionable, with Vivienne Westwood, for example, working with people-friendly Brazilian shoemakers Melissa to create stunning vegan shoes, which deliberately flaunt the visual potential of glossy recycled PVC. Moulding comfortably to the foot, her high-heeled jellies probably won’t breath any better than the ones you wear to the beach, but her sassy sling-backed peep-toe styles make a virtue of necessity, and you can even wash them under the tap.
Faux suede has historically been most commonly made from synthetic polyester, a polluting petrochemical product, but Beyond Skin ( to see more click on the logo on the right of the blog post), set up specifically to create fabulous shoes that were also cruelty free, has now discovered a way to use recycled PET to create a suede look microfibre that’s also strong, moisture wicking and breathable. Arguably not as sustainable as a natural fibre like cork, it’s certainly a gorgeous way to use up the tonnes of waste PET currently produced annually. Check out their Betty handmade spike heeled knee-boots in black faux suede, water resistant and lined with their vegan PU leather. You’ll never be mistaken for a hippy in those!