Like I mentioned before, one of these days I was exercising my regular dose of procrastination and fell down the shoe rabbit hole into the vegan world.
A lot of brands that currently make shoes without leather, using cheaper plastic as a replacement, employ an obvious marketing maneuver to label the material as “vegan-leather” when veganism has nothing to do with it. What pisses me off is not so much that they are trying to re-brand a cost reducing strategy as an ethical intention, it’s mainly because those materials don’t respect the vegan principle of protecting the environment.
“Faux-leather” is a lot more honest (it literally means fake leather), and I usually stay well away from it. This “leather” is usually a plastic coating over a fabric material that breaks easily with wear, and I’ve had shoes in which the coating started to flake off with a single use. Major disappointment. Like choosing a piece of that brown cake at the caffé only to find out it’s not chocolate within the first bite. Then you’re left with something in the beginning of its life span that you don’t want anymore but can’t throw away because you already spent money on it and need to personally justify more than 1 use/bite.
These types of shoes have to be replaced frequently. The majority of my wardrobe is currently made up of leather shoes because they’re the only ones that have endured the test of time, so in terms of sustainability, they usually beat faux leather.
And that constant replacement also impacts the environment because plastic is not biodegradable. The synthetic materials don’t decay like real leather, which is made of animal (usually cow) skin. So you’ll get rid of them fast but the earth won’t. It can’t be easy for a vegan to find options.
There are, however, a few vegan brands out there dedicated to fill this market gap. NAE is one I feel addresses the issue, having the goal to make non-leather shoes which are built to last, that are actually cute. So I had really high hopes for this pair of booties.
Just a disclaimer: I’m in no way a vegan, nor am I on the path to get there. Don’t come for me. That being said, I think there is a lot of merit in the vegan pursuit of a better world. The fashion industry is one of the most polluting on the planet, so I think there’s definitely a change worth making. And if I can find
an excuse to buy shoes reliable products that help towards that goal, I’m on board.
Just a disclaimer again: I’m not affiliated with this brand, I bought the shoes myself.
Enough about context and personal stances: let’s get to the review.
According to the brand, this model is made with “Ecological Suede Microfiber” on the outside and “breathable and anti-allergy microfiber” on the inside, made with a “CO2 free manufacturing system”. The outsole is rubber. And here’s the verdict:
- they’re comfortable. Leather shoes adjust to your foot with time so this was a major comparison point for me. These don’t really adjust, but they’re comfortable to wear from the get go. No blisters or bruises;
- the patent material makes them easy to clean. I’ve worn them a few times and had some grayish dirt spots on the beige part of the shoe that came off with a swipe of a damp cloth;
- there is some creasing of the material that’s somewhat visible, but it’s on par with any other leather shoe that I own. No breaking apart of the outer material, nothing that looks like the integrity of the shoe is compromised. I do have some scuff marks on the inner part of the heel, but again, that’s on par with other shoes I own;
- the tip of the shoe, one of the critical areas for me that starts to get worn off and scuffed because I occasionally forget how to walk and hit my feet in the weirdest of ways on the sidewalk, looks brand new. And I know I’ve kicked the ground a few times. No marks there.
I’m thoroughly impressed with it’s mark resistance, taking this is a patent-type material. It’s too soon to see if they age well or how long they really last, but so far I’m not disappointed.
Their website has free worldwide shipping. My experience with the online store wasn’t the smoothest, because I submitted the order and had no data to complete the payment, so that implied a few emails back and forth. I don’t like that many steps between me and my shoes.
To their credit, they were quick to respond and the problem was solved the next day. Great customer service.
All in all, I’m already eyeing another pair.