This is an out-takes page from /ask.htm,
the page like other site's "about us" or "terms
and conditions" which ends in a contact form and lists things
like postage rates and returns policies. The less shoe-related
What's wrong with leather
What's Veganline.com about
What's wrong with
leather? [ full
page explanation ][ 100
Leather is usually not as absorbent as modern micro-fibres, but
most shoe customers still look for it out of habit, and because
they ignore the inherent cruelty of the leather industry. Slaughtering
is a competitive trade, and a difficult one. If the dead animal
has too much blood left in it after death, it can't be sold for
meat; it is necessary to stun it and keep the heart beating for
a while while blood drains. Labour costs and exchange rates mean
production is usually done in the third world, where animal
rights legislation is even less of a priority than here. Every
now and then, a TV documentary goes into a few details, proves
new scandals, and thousands of people turn vegan overnight. There
are were over 250,000 vegans in the UK in 1998 and the figure
keeps rising, although most people aren't 100% in one category
or another. A second reason for staying converted to being vegan
is that the animal industry is such a waste. It may not seem
so to those who are used to it, but to those who boycott it and
find they are not missing much, the sheer complexity & land
waste that goes into a greasy sausage seems out of proportion.
The Vegfam link above puts the point sharply.
The decision to make an effort to avoid animal products is often
emotional at first, caused by the shock of a TV
documentary, or done to fit-in with other people. Some people
want to become more strictly vegetarian or vegan as they learn
to cook or find the right products over time, and as their leather
gear wears-out. The decision to go back to leather is more intellectual:
if you know the facts and you don't want to cause pain, it's
hard to go back to meat, fur, leather, or any animal products
that you find it proportionately easy to boycott.
It is a small mail-order firm with shoe buying-skills We don't
own a shop or a factory, but have our shoes specially made out
of expensive materials, or open wholesale accounts with companies
that sell synthetic shoes already. In response to demand for
other ethical qualities than being vegan, we try to find as many
shoes as possible that are made in democratic countries with
a welfare state, or are fairtrade in some way. Exceptions include
Green Flash trainers, football
boots, which are made in a police state without free hospitals,
and our cheaper vinyl
womens shoes which are made in unknown Indian state - presumably
a democracy with no free hospitals or pensions.
We take risks in buying more stock than is good for a small firm
- often made exclusively to our designs - and we can spend hours
of time trying to track-down a German PVC clog manufacturer or
a Romania hemp mill.. Veganline.com is cussed and anti-fashion
It is prone to writing rants at whim.
Responding to demand and supply we sell unfashionable shoes as
well as fashionable ones, and plan to sell things like pants
and thermal underwear in due course. Offers to show these on
a catwalk at London Fashion Week are welcome but not expected.
John Robertson trading as Veganline.com, 2 Avenue Gardens, London
SW14 8BP - see /news.htm
- Veganline.com is the trading name as well as the domain
name. We were first going to be a telephone line for ordering
shoes - about one person a month still orders on 0800 458 4442
- but the internet took over and we now write "for vegan
shoes online" under the trading name to help people remember
- If anyone in the shoe-making trade has ideas for reducing
the development costs of short runs of good or fashionable vegan
shoes made in the Europe, please contact us as UK shoe factories
are rare and most of the skill is finding anything at all, however
frumpy, that is not from China and preferably from a country
with courts votes and a welfare state, or has some fairtrade
- Meanwhile we are retailers of vegan shoes, possibly all to
be made in Europe soon for simplicity of reporting
The shoes made for us are made in small batches: most of the
time making the shoes is spent setting-up the production machines,
dealing with Veganline and so-on, which doubles the cost of mass
production but is still half the price of an individually-made
pair of shoes. Likewise the shoes we buy from wholesalers are
marked-up by about half or a third, with a minimum of about ten
- We are members of Ethical Junction and Vegan Society trademark
Why be bad? Why not sell
X Y or Z on a nifty site?
Veganline.com is a small thrifty business without specialists
in PR, web or product-design, and without the mark-up on imported
shoes that allows this or easy wholesale to other shops. We sell
on slightly lower margin than other firms and aim for high street
prices. Some of the shoes we buy are expensive because of small
batch production and UK costs, but even they are sold on relatively
low margins: one
boot that we sell for £80 was on show at London Fashion
Week for £182 wholesale. You will see thrift all over the
site. The ordering pages have the label of an e-commerce company
on them; the site map a site mapping company, and soon rotating
images will have the logo of an image rotation company. These
are all signs of efficiency.
If you are looking for green credentials like composting waste,
planting, using a solar panel, and wrapping in waste paper then
you have found them.
If you are looking for fashion, new carpets & buzz you may
find them here some time but not yet.
If you are looking for a label with credentials that can be
reported, you are close, give or take.
Journalists have a choice of reporting every single small shop
selling a single nice thing, which is impossible, or reporting
a factory or a brand or a shop or something that has some consistent
approach to fair trade & fashion. Veganline.com does have
its own label and sometimes has a consistent approach, but sometimes
not when people ask for things like Green Flash trainers from
Vietnam, Ascot football boots from China, or Blizzard Boots made
in China for an EthicalTrade.org member or RSS Edge classics
made in India without any pretensions but in a more open society
than China. Blizzard Boots are often asked-for by customers who
say "My mum wants these. I've found you on the internet.",
and these customers offer money which is an impossible ethical
dilemma until we've added £4.50 postage & packing.
Bathing on moisturiser and sipping fine wines while looking
out at the vistas our garden staff have prepared, we obviously
have to accept money that customers have offered in order to
cover costs but please be assured that it is with contempt: we
are proper fashionistas.
Other firms have presented themselves to the world as ethical
for whatever reason - they sell nice hiking boots that don't
fall apart or they are more ethical than they were five years
ago - and still get their shoes done in China rather than suffering
realistic prices & hassle by getting them done in the UK
or US. For example Patagonia is widely known as a company interested
in ethically-made shoes because its hiking boots don't fall apart,
but they are still made in China and the factory inspector is
still mainly looking for quality rather than good Jobs
trade according to his own job description. As an ethically-reported
firm, Patagonia doesn't stop him reporting his opinions on You-Tube,
where he suggests that the more obscure and exotic animal parts
should not be included in shoes because the tannery is then like
"a dishwasher for one plate" and gluing the sole to
the shoe is "the one job" he would not like to do.
He would not be allowed to do it in the UK even if he wanted
to get high on volatile organic compounds used as glue solvents,
but the PR assumption is that shoes have to be made in China
because only firms that make shoes in China can afford PR.
European and particularly UK goods have been hard to sell since
1979; it is more-or-less impossible for a UK factory to sell
to UK chain stores and any UK shop that wants ethically-made
products simply doesn't find the firms in the phone book to make
them. The reason is shown on the bottom line of arrows of this
Policy Committee diagram linking the interest rate they set,
to the amount that the pound is over-valued, to reduced import
prices to under-cut UK factories, reducing inflation in the short
term. The top flow of the flow diagram with "asset prices"
including house prices is another thing and others understand
The bottom flow is surprising. The arrow from "official
rate [of interest on government loans]" to "exchange
rate" means that for 20 years the taxpayer has been
paying too much interest in government debt. Investors have swapped
other currencies such as the Chinese one for pounds in order
to take advantage, boosting the value of the pound against those
currencies - hence the next arrow to "import prices".
Local factories are pressed reduce prices or close. This is a
dour essay to read on the pages of an online shoe-shop which
may have been visited for fun, but the message below is from
the Bank of England, not Veganline.com. Continuing in dour mode,
there is a certain type of question:
"why aren't vegan shoes
- new or edgy
- why don't they woo me? Isn't that why people pay for shoes?
Is it because you are truck driving lesbians?"
That last comment is a real
one posted on the Veganline.com face book site. We would
quite like to be builders which is probably the same sort of
thing and do indeed have a customer who is a truck driving lesbian
as well as a trouble-making Unite - Transport and General National
Executive Committee member who dared to stand
for re-election after being expelled from the internal party
and to mention the bogus un-fit structure of the organisation.
Obviously there's not much chance of being re-elected in a bogus
electoral system so it's a compliment that someone from the Transport
and General Worker's union took her so seriously as to post a
As for stocking of shoes in retail planning zones, the experts
like Stylo, Shoefayre and Dolcis have shut-up shop or closed
down so we're just lucky not to be mainstream. Retail planning
zones, like housing, are expensive and it's been a problem that
the only way for local shoe shops to pay the rent is to stock
- willing & able: see CV
- someone who likes making things (or know someone) why
are there only office Jobs
- Sir Humphrey. My job is to invent universal jargon that
applies to all situations and then expect suppliers to take lessons
in understanding it before bidding for very useful public sector
work such as the Olympics or the MOD. We don't have to pay for
our time so why should you? Why not pay us instead? Seminar places
are available for only £120 plus VAT so that you can understand
better how we are wasting your money and we get £120. We
particularly welcome small suppliers because there are more of
them and we keep getting £120 over and over again. Obviously
if we knew about real Jobs
trade we'd track down the one or two small suppliers who
could meet our need in a day, but being a courtier is hard and
difficult; we don't have time to be useful too.
- Humphrey again. Good to have a contact. Frankly we seem
to have messed-up with our "pay-to-listen-to-claptrap"
scheme. This time you get unskilled staff with a taxpayer subsidy
via the jobcentre for six months as long as we can advertise
it on television as in the 1980s and you don't have planning
permission or support from technical colleges to set-up a factory;
that's what we expect you to do for us. Oh and there's no demand
for your products and there are no suppliers of machines.
Can you help?"
The answer is that all political parties let a short-run emergency
policy run unchallenged for 20 years, because it made them look
good and the only people it made look bad were factory workers
who are officially old-fashioned and inflexible, so that's OK.
Now that the Icelandic currency has halved in value and the UK
one is dropping, it is a good time to appreciate the value of
UK factories and look for things to buy from them in case they're
the only ones we can afford to use in a few years' time.
For more practical details and a contact form see /ask.htm