No wardrobe would be complete without a pair of black boots. We all know the ones, look good with everything, can be dressed up or down, perfect for work or to go out for drinks! They are our best friends, keeping us looking presentable throughout the cold and wet months when realistically, we should we walking around in wellies.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve realised that 1. my feet aren’t growing anymore and 2. they actually do need looking after. It has become really important to me to invest in good quality shoes that are both comfortable and durable. After disaster after disaster with cheap high street shoes, I realised that spending £70+ on a pair of really amazing boots was, in the long run, just as cost effective as buying and breaking multiple budget pairs. Plus honestly, most high street brands actually charge quite a lot for a shoe that is quite frankly a load of rubbish.
The materials that the shoes are made out of, whether they are leather or non-leather, have awful effects on the environment, both during the production process and as a result of their disposal.
Non-leather shoes are usually made out of petroleum and require the use of toxic chemicals in their production. These materials are non-recyclable and non-biodegradable.
And leather is no better. According to a report by the UN in 2006, raising animals for food generated more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined. Imagine the impact now that the demand for leather fashion products is only increasing, and is consumed at faster rates than ever. According to shoe retailer Beyond Skin, ‘each time you purchase a new pair of leather shoes you are responsible for using as much water as having a bath every day for over 40 years!’
Buying leather isn’t anymore sustainable in terms of biodegradability. In theory, you’d think as leather is a natural material it would be able to decompose. However, the tanning agent that is usually used in the production process means that it is in fact non-biodegradable. Yet another contribution to landfill.
However, don’t be fooled into thinking that because you are buying a leather alternative that this has less impact as many shoes are made from plastics.
Cheap shoes from high street stores are often made in factories where workers aren’t paid a fair wage for their work, often not being treated with basic human rights. This is as a result of a lack of enforced regulations at factory level and a constant pressure throughout the supply chain to produce cheaper garments at a faster and faster pace.
Because of a lack of transparency in the supply chain, it is just impossible to know what’s really going on behind the scenes. This is why we need to start seeking out and supporting the brands who are doing it right. Not only will you get chic, stylish boots that are great quality, you can also be happy in the knowledge that other people weren’t compromised.
So here are three of our favourite conscious black boots…
For the Fashionista
These Bourgeois Boheme 60s style Chelsea boots are perfect for those who like to make a statement. They are handcrafted in Portugal out of Pinatex pineapple leather – luxury animal-free footwear. They also consider their carbon footprint, creating eco-friendly leathers that are made to stand the test of time.
They have a big focus on transparency and not only are they ethically made, all BB shoes are Vegan Society trademarked and PETA approved. Italian style chic!
Alice Lai, Founder of Bourgeoise Boheme, believes that ‘a good vegan shoe should be about more than just excluding animal materials.’ As a result, BB shoes are completely free from PVC (a toxic plastic that is often used for less expensive non-leather shoes) and they are constantly working to improve the materials used to ensure they stay on top of environmental responsibility, without jeopardising quality and style.
They also do various things in order to ensure longevity; you can book a personal fitting appointment at their HQ in London to make sure you get the perfect fit so you get a shoe you’ll want to wear forever. Design-wise, they aim for classic, trans-seasonal styles that won’t go out of trend. For wardrobe staples like a pair of black boots that you’ll wear time and time again, this is an important factor as boots like these are versatile enough to march you through whatever the fashion world throws at you.
Vegan Chelsea Boot Annie – Bourgeois Boheme
For the Sleek & Stylish
A brand born out of frustration at the lack of nice vegan shoes available, Beyond Skin have made it their mission to make sleek and stylish shoes that are both ethically and sustainably made. These Chelsea boots are a classic style – timeless and chic, they are perfect for those who opt for a more sophisticated style and have the added benefit of blissful comfort.
Beyond Skin use 100% recycled PU linings in their boots and their synthetic leathers are made from cotton-backed polyurethane (PU), sourced from Italy. PU is similar to PVC leatherettes in terms of looks but unlike PVC it’s much kinder to the environment.
Although PU is made from petrochemicals, it is a much better alternative to leather made out of animal hides which is an energy intensive and polluting practice. This factors in the energy it takes to bring up a cow and tan its skin. Although not an ideal alternative environmentally, they feel PU is the lesser of two evils, having a less damaging effect on the environment.
Beyond Skin also work very closely with their factories in Spain to make sure ethical practices are enforced, and are dedicated to eradicating exploitation throughout the supply chain.
Black Faux Leather Chelsea Boots – Beyond Skin
For the Quirky Yet Practical
When it comes to durable boots that look great, Dr Martens are always a winner. If you enjoy a chunky boot with a bit more attitude, their Chelsea boots are for you. They still look sleek, but their kick-ass, fashion-forward style will give your outfit a bit of edge.
These boots are made out of a vegan-friendly, synthetic leather and no animal products were used in their production.
Dr Martens, whose business is built around sturdy footwear that’s made to last, use a technique called the Goodyear Welt — which means the upper and sole are sewn together with a heat-sealed z-welt stitch. This means that the seams and joins of the shoe are really strong. Also, all their packaging is both recyclable and made out of recycled materials and they have created various campaigns such as ‘Give a Toss’, which aimed to reduce the amount of rubbish going into to landfill.
Dr Martens make the welfare of the workers in their supplier factories a priority, treating them the same as they treat their own employees – fairly and with dignity. They have long-term relationships with a small number of key partners which allow them to build on trust and communication and create a transparent relationship. They even have a policy in place that requires suppliers to disclose any potential subcontracting or homeworking so that it can be reviewed.
Felix Black Vegan Chelsea Boots – Dr Martens
Although it may seem like you’re splashing the cash, you should see buying a pair of well-made black boots as an investment that you’ll definitely get a return on! In the words of Vivienne Westwood: ‘Buy Less, Choose Well, Make it last!’
We want to see how you style your black boots! Tag @revival.collective in your Instagram and let’s get promoting all these amazing conscious brands