Being a vegan is hot. Just ask fully vegan celebs like Lea Michele (who we all love from “Glee”), movie star Natalie Portman or the fabulous Betty White. Even with all the lifestyle’s health and ethical benefits, a dilemma that some vegans have is finding a wide enough selection of shoes. After all, no leather is allowed in the cruelty-free vegan way of life. Not to worry. Customize your own spectacular shoes to create the best look that even the most picky princess would envy.
Yes, Natalie Portman had Dior custom-make her own vegan shoes, but chances are, your budget is on a smaller scale. That doesn’t mean you can’t be every bit the fashion plate that Natalie is. Follow these steps for more affordable, highly fashionable shoes.
1. Here’s the thing. Start with your own vision. Before you can get to the fun part, you need to have in mind exactly what you want. Are you seeking a general shoe that can match everything? Perhaps you want just the right little red slipper to contrast that sexy black dress. Having a clear concept of the purpose the shoe will serve and what sort of requirement (such as shade or color) keeps you on the right track.
2. Wish upon a star for them. Just kidding. Actually, the next step is picking the right store for your needs. A small sampling of outlets that allow you to customize vegan shoes include Hydra Heart, a small vegan company that allows you to customize the flats of your dreams. Milk and Honey (yeah, the title isn’t exactly vegan-friendly, but the company is) allows you to customize any vegan shoe you can imagine for the most part; you get to pick the heel height, the color, the toe shape and whether you want straps. Other venues include Macbeth, which lets you custom create your own vegan pair of ice skates, a rarity in the business for sure. See Resources.
3. Measure your feet carefully and be very specific on sizes. Shoe manufacturers are notorious for having different sizing practices so pretend you don’t know your own shoe size. Ask the representative assisting you to allow you to supply your exact feet measurements for help with sizing. If a company does not accommodate your requests or take the time to make sure that you get your money’s worth, make like a diva, and take your business elsewhere. You deserve special attention for your special pair of vegan shoes.
4. Be very clear with the company on what you want in your shoe. If you are hoping for pale pink, yet only tell the retailer that you want “pink,” you aren’t likely to get what you need. Specificity is key to a smooth online transaction of any kind, but it is imperative when you are customizing your own pair of shoes.
5. Ask for a sample if you are trying to match the shoes to a specific shade on your outfit. Also, keep in mind that sometimes computer screens vary in coloring so print out a copy of the sample for comparisons.
6. Place the order after finding out the manufacturer’s policies. Ask how long shipping will be and find out the cost of shipping up front. Ask about the return policy. Only do business with companies that have a generous return policy for shoddy work or if the shoe doesn’t fit properly.
7. Receive your shoes and try them on immediately. If there is anything about the shoe that doesn’t meet your expectations, return them immediately. We’re talking like the same day. Time is of the essence when it comes to getting online disputes resolved to your satisfaction. Communicate calmly, politely, firmly and in detail if anything is wrong. State clearly how you want the situation to be resolved so that the company has a goal to work toward regarding making you happy.
8. Decide if you want to keep things demure and simple. Many vegans like to wear their hearts on their sleeves and their messages on other parts of their bodies! If you’d like to make something more than a fashion statement with your shoes, opt to secure a patch on cloth shoes or perhaps even draw on shoes that have a hard exterior. Stickers also work to send home a message and are usually removable if some days you simply want to be incognito.
Small vegan companies are likely very excited to get your business and need it to thrive; treating each other with mutual respect is the important thing. Speak your mind when necessary, but always do so politely.