Created in 2013 in the UK, Wills Vegan Shoes will make you feel like a star parading on an elegant cruelty-free catwalk!
“The first barrier to living a vegan lifestyle is diet – the second is footwear.” I have to agree with the person who told this to Will Green, the brilliant designer behind Wills Vegan Shoes. Specially when speaking about high-street styled shoes. In the last decade the market for vegan foods is increasing a lot and I still remember the days that vegan cheese was just a dream. But when you think about shoes, quality and affordable shoes, the options are still very limited and they still can demand a large amount of money spent on international shopping.
Will’s dream and goal is to “bridge the gap between everyday people and ethically produced vegan shoes” and he is doing it right. His shoes, for men and women, have quality, good prices and don’t hurt animals or people in process.
We have talked to Will about his brand new and exciting Spring 2014 collection and to celebrate this great new option in vegan shoes our readers will have free delivery in the UK and Europe and returns are free every day of the year in the UK and Europe (just use the code “VEGANFOOD” during the check-out) in orders placed with Wills Vegan Shoes.
How and when the idea of launching a vegan brand for shoes came up? Tell us a little bit more about your experience on working with ethical shoes.
I decided to start Wills in Spring 2013. Whilst working for another vegan shoe company people kept on telling me how hard it was to buy ethical and fashionable, affordable shoes. I knew what the steps were to make vegan shoes and had worked in retail for 10 years so was confident I could make a difference. Something one person said stuck with me: the first barrier to living a vegan lifestyle is diet – the second is footwear. In-fact some people find the diet easy and the footwear harder! With Wills I wanted to help take down one of the barriers to living a more ethical life. It is great to do something every day that I am passionate about and believe in.
You’ve launched your first winter collection in 2013 and now the first spring collection is coming out. How was the reaction of consumers to the winter collection and what are you expecting for the new collection?
I think my winter collection was the first time people could choose from a wide selection of ethical and fashionable shoes at prices they could afford. After my first two weeks I had pretty much sold out of everything – it was very humbling but also quite scary!
I am SO excited about Spring. I want Wills to just be like a normal high street store but ethical. Every time you go in – you see something new. There are shoes on display following the latest trends. There are staples you can buy every day of the year. Importantly I want my shoes to be easy to buy, with low delivery charges and free returns so people can have a nice shopping experience too.
What do you think vegan shoes must have? Which are the most special features of your shoes?
For me I see humans and animals as one. We are all animals. I make shoes that are animal and human friendly. I do not want anything to be harmed for the sake of my shoes therefore I only use vegan materials and make my shoes in well run factories in Portugal – where people work in good conditions and earn a fair wage.
I also want my shoes to be well made and look after your feet. Your feet are so important. A cheap pair of shoes that are poorly made can do you real damage and are a false economy in the long term – you just end up buying more shoes instead of one good pair – and that increases your impact on the earth too.
Shoes and accessories cruelty-free where a big difficult for me when I’ve became vegan in Brazil 17 years ago. It was really hard to find options, specially quality ones. How do you see the vegan market for these products today in the UK and in the rest of the world? Do you think there are many vegan Carrie Bradshaw out there just waiting to fill a huge closet with cruelty-free shoes?
Well I already have a few lovely customers who have brought +5 shoes (you know who you are!) from me so that must be a big yes!
A change in recent years that seems to be gaining velocity is the growing awareness outside the vegan community of the issues and morality of eating and wearing animals.
People now buy vegan labelled products who eat meat or are meat reducers. The vegan market especially in America is step by step integrating with the mainstream.
Is there any other vegan shoe brands that you admire?
Vegetarian Shoes for being around 23 amazing years and making it possible for everyone who came after them, I take my hat off to Robin Webb. Beyond Skin for doing what they do so well – they make it look easy! Brave Gentleman for making great men’s boots and Macbeth for making great sneakers.
How do you see the fact that many people are turning away from leather and fur even if it doesn’t mean they’re stopping eating meat?
I think it is great that people are taking positive steps to living a more positive life. However small the step it helps animals.
Are you planning of having your shoes sold in retail shops in the UK and Europe in the future?
You can find Wills in stores right now in Austria, Belgium, Italy and UK this season. For Autumn look out for Wills in Sweden, Germany, France and the Netherlands. I have just added a store finder page on my website so people can see if there is a store near them.
What can we expect from Wills in 2014?
The big news so far is introducing 3.60 euro shipping and free returns for all of Europe. I have to use google translate a lot now!
You can expect me to continue to introduce new styles through the year always following the my three principles – ethical, fashionable and affordable.
(Photos courtesy of Wills Vegan Shoes)