OK, I admit it – I love shoes. I LOVE shoes. If I had my way, I’d have a walk-in closet with just shoes (floor-to-ceiling). I especially love women’s-style shoes, but also men’s-style shoes. There’s only one problem – I’m a poor little vegan and I don’t wear leather (or snakeskin or other dead/hurt-animal products).
It’s pretty obvious that women’s shoes come in a lot more styles, but even so, there are some pretty great men’s shoes as well, especially in the last decade and especially in a major metropolitan area – but try finding something decent in non-leather! Other than the odd pair of sneakers (ugh), all good-quality men’s shoes are at least partially suede/leather – this is in regular stores, I mean (will get to the online veggie shops later).
Then there are women’s shoes, which have a LOT more options, including many non-leather ones (though of course the majority do contain leather), but what is up with the sizing? I understand that women are generally smaller than men and have smaller feet, but are their feet really THAT much smaller? Take this tidbit: in the USA, a Men’s 10 & 1/2 (regular width) = Women’s 12 (wide width). Aside from the idiocy of using different numbers for the same size (which other countries don’t do), is it really true that a woman with the same LENGTH foot as a man has a NARROWER foot? Maybe it is true, but I am a little skeptical, especially considering how many women I’ve noticed wearing shoes way too small for their feet (my favorite is the “mule cliff-hanger” with the heel sticking 1/2 and inch or more off the back of the shoe – hey, lady! that’s not your size!).
OK, yeah, my feet are pretty big compared to most women (hey, I’m 6’2″ – leave me alone) and a little flat-footed (women’s regular width is not what we’d call flattering on me) and most women’s shoes only go up to size 10 and wide widths are not exactly commonplace. So I can look (even finding non-leather beauties), but not try on. I partially blame all the women stuffing into smaller sizes (if they’d just demand shoes that fit properly (wider/longer), my life would be a little easier (maybe the norm would go up to size 12W instead). [I won’t go into how uncomfortable most women’s shoes are here]
As for alternatives, I’ve been forced into the world of online shoe shopping. Unfortunately, anything really interesting and veg-friendly (non-leather) is usually overseas. That means high costs (shipping + exchange rate) and although the men’s shoes usually fit, when they don’t (such as a pair I got yesterday), it’s a major hassle. Shipping one way costs 16$ to the UK, so even an exchange with full credit will cost an extra $32. And many online places don’t have a good return policy – they want to charge a “restocking fee” which is a percentage of the price (instead of a flat cost as would make more sense). Also, shipping is usually based on price, not size/weight as are the actual shipping costs (which sometimes may work in your favor, but won’t for anything expensive).
Forget large-size women’s style shoes from any vegetarian vendor (they only go up to USA size W10 at best), there’s just not enough demand. The best you can do is usually cheap shoes that happen to be non-leather as a cost-saving measure (sometimes regular styles, sometimes more uncomfortable fetish-styles in environmentally toxic, non-breathable PU or PVC).
All I really want is a few pair of large-size, non-leather, high-quality breathable mary jane’s and maybe a pair of sleek short-heel knee-high boots – is that too much to ask?