Delivery, return, contact and other information
£3 in the UK, usually, or £1.40 for belts. The order form works it after you press "save" so that it knows what country you are in and quotes a price. European and World prices are much higher, but based on what Royal Mail charge us. The zones are UK, Europe, World, and Oceana with prices rising per quarter kilo to each.
- Return delivery: just ask for cheapest postage and free proof of posting at a post office. Hermes drop-off is sometimes a few pence cheaper.
- Please enclose a note asking for a refund or replacement size.
- Please return shoes in a condition you would accept yourself if buying new.
- There is no fixed deadline nor rule about the condition of the box, but we try to re-use them.
- refund of the original price - usually back onto your card
- refund of UK outbound postage on your original order, at our standard rate, if you return within 28 days or during January for goods bought in December
- outbound postage of the replacement, if we have it available, at the cheapest rate
- Airmail replacements to Australasia and the Americas are a special case.
Most people prefer to pay £5 to upgrade to airmail.
Some are happy with cheap green 12 or 8 week surface mail which we pay for.
We have to say
- Whether the consumer or the supplier would be responsible for the cost of returning.
It's you, because we sell mainly European-made products on quite low margins; that's part of the deal.
- We have to say where the return address is.
Our vegan shoes London return address is 2 Avenue Gardens, London, SW14 8BP
- Usually your shoes come with a chit that says
"please return with a note for refund or replacement" and the address in large letters
American and Australian customers get a reminder about the cost of airmail replacements, and a request to write "returns - no tariff due" or such on the customs sticker to avoid tariffs on parcels valued over £18.
- If business picks-up we might get an account with Rebound, who organsise this kind of thing, but for now you have to organise your own postage label payment.
Lost post - how long to wait? - see Royalmail.com/redelivery
- UK Royal Mail tracking confirms delivery, and it's very rare for anything to be lost. Unfortunately, cheap postage has no tracking for the stages before delivery.
If you get a red card through your letter box headed "Something for you", you are in luck because it allows you to collect the parcel from a sorting office or tells you which neighbour it was left with. You can also email veganline to ask if there's any note of delivery on the web.
- If you can guess the details on the card, you can still request a re-delivery online even if you haven't got it.
- Royal Mail sorting offices and phone staff don't help unless you have a card.
- 14 days after postage, Veganline can make a claim for lost mail. The figure is 10 working days in Royal Mail's terms, so about 14.
In order to be sure that our claim will work, we ask you for a note to state that the item wasn't delivered. There is no fixed format but a one line letter with a signature and description like "vegan shoe parcel" should be enough. Sometimes we email you proof of posting, partly for re-assurance, and partly so that the customer can print it out, write your note on the same sheet, and send it back to us. Scan and email is the cheapest method.
- Some of our 1kg slippers and vegan court shoes might be sent by Hermes which has a similar system but different in detail. We have customers who's deliveries are made by Australia Post, New Zealand Post, or USPS in the USA. The waiting time is a little longer before a claim can be made, and unfortunately no tracking information is sent-back to us, even if it exists in the system. You will know better than us whether it is worth asking at the local post office or sorting office or giving them a ring.
About the shoes
- All vegan, to reasonable standards of guesswork, and often made for us direclty.
- Mainly made in democratic welfare states like the UK. With luck that makes them feel better to wear - better than wearing leather from China with an advertised brand on it. Although Couldron Sausages sold better when the firm took the word "vegetarian" off the label or put it in small print! We have now put much less about the word "vegan" on the front page.
- There's detail on each shoe page about the mid-sole, the fit, and why your foot might want to go and live in it.
About the blog posts
The previous web site didn't have a system for writing blog posts, but it hosted a lot of them anyway, in answer to points of vew that seemed important at the time. If you see the other points of view, you'll see why all these words seemed worth writing.
When we started at the turn of the century, the UK had survived 20 years of a monetary policy that made exports much harder and imports much easier than a free market. The policy ran from 1979-2009 and closed a fifth of manufacturing in the first five years. There were and are very few shoe factories left in the UK, and that that might make it feel good to wear shoes made in the few surviving factories. The policy survived till the next recession in 2008, and is still considered respectable. At the same time, Chinese imports were made cheaper by an undervalued currency there, and countries without the costs of a welfare state had an unfair advantage. UK factory space was hard to get as the south of the UK got more and more crowded. There was so much to say, that it probably put us off the job of learning to make shoes!
When we started, the internet was less used and there was a need to put arguments for being more veggie or vegan on the shoe web site. I don't know if we did as well as the Vegan Society or PETA, but we had a go. At the time, conventional wisdom in the shoe trade was that "leather is a by-product of meat", which is true in a way; leather supply goes up and down according to meat demand, but there a still good arguments for boycotting it.
Debunking the PR of "Ethical Fashion" from government PR agencies.
In 2005, a strange thing happened. A trade association and underwear company appeared in a building set-up by the Greater London Authority, claiming to represent "ethical fashion", and publicised by "a raft of measures" which were favours and small grants from government organisations. Token rent. The V&A and the Crafts Council held exhibitions. The Department for International DevelopPRment awarded a Development Awareness Grant. Business Link contracted the firm to do business training, as did an obscure sector skills council for the creative and fashion industry. London Fashion Week allowed a stall. The British Council funded "course material" for fashion courses, commissioned to quooe Ethical Fashion Forum founders as "case studies".
The organisation was more or less bogus; most of the members were people like interns who had done Chevening Scholarships, fashion consultants looking for trade, and people inserted by Futerra, a public relations agency that did a lot of work for government at the time. The poinot of view was bogus as well. It promoted goods from badly-run countries that are poor, for lack of a welfare state. It warned against buying British goods on ethical grounds. One of the main jobs of UK manufacturers and of a Vegan shoe company was to debunk the PR, which Veganline did, with pages of researched words. In the end, we won. There is still a lot of work to do, to get a fair deal fo UK manufactuers instead of things like London Fashion Week, but there are plenty of other people asking for it, and nobody like Ethical Fashion Forum urging us all to import from Sri Lanka instead. Except fashion colleges and London Fashion week, but when students read the job prospects and student feedback for London College of Fashion courses, fewer and fewer will apply.
The text below needs re-editing for this new site and probably has broken links in it.
Press coverage: https://veganline.com/info/news
Acknowledgements, Belts sizes, Catalogues, Cheques, Cheques and Currencies - see Overseas, Fair labour,
Overseas: Currency conversion, Last posting dates, Airmail, Surface mail, cost price, returns stickers, replacements
postage, privacy, returns, shoe sizes and sale shoes, security, stockists
Fashions in ethics are as much a problem as ethical fashion: government subsidies and promotion are awarded to groups with no interest in UK-made or vegan footwear and every interest in promoting their other sponsors such as third world governments. This page about the fashion for "ethical fashion" gives an idea, and ends-up with some facts as footnotes.
Labelling is imposed by government to say what country a shoe is made in and what parts of it are leather or textile. From these labels it's possible to guess how green a vegan shoe is and something about the civil and welfare rights of the people who made it.
- Fair trade labelling from Fair trade Labelling Organisations International members - the blue & green symbol on coffee - does not much exist in a standardised way for shoes. The scheme only applies to certain listed countries that have been judged third-world at some point in the past. UK and US factories are excluded as well as Turkish, while Indian can be included. As the wealth of different countries changes more rapidly than most of us can keep-track of, the list stays the same. The general problem of knowing what suppliers are doing and whether the money trickles-down is made worse in societies without proper votes or human rights like China, so the scheme can't be monitored there even though China is on the list. Even where it's legal to ask questions, a shoe's origins are wrapped in a long supply system which is seldom all in one country or known to one person. Small shops, like individual consumers and even large branded clothing merchants have trouble finding out which of their shoes are good shoes with bad PR and which are not-so-bad shoes with good PR. Just as the classic idea that buying cheapest helps everyone is messy and easy to find-fault with, the idea that trying to buy more goods from countries with a welfare state, or more goods from the better third world employers and fair trade certified ones is just as messy. Ethletic and Sole Rebels shoes are fair trade certified.
Some importers belong to a trade association - the Ethical Trade Initiative - which compares notes about minimum standards and helps the companies make sure their stories to the press are consistent with each other; the products of these companies aren't singled-out.
- Country of origin labels lead to information about the human rights in each country: the detailed reports from Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch, and the ratings agency Democracy Index which attempts to compare democracies. There is no clear comparison for welfare rights, but these are important too.
Veganline.com buys the maximum proportion of shoes from countries with useful courts, votes, and a welfare state. Others might sensibly think that to buy - indirectly- from the worst places on earth is the default option for improving conditions in bad places; that the Primark buyer is already helping the third world to a certain extent and that it is only the odds-and-ends like organic recycled laces that are newsworthy in this process. This is a neat view. Everyone reading this will have bought apparel from wherever their usual shop gets it, and to pretend not would by hypocritical. To buy from the worst place in earth (or wherever cheapness is combined with productivity: Vietnam, Cambodia, China, Burma rather than southern Sudan) is also a rational view held by well-informed people. Mrs Thatcher stated a decade or two ago that to trade with China might improve human rights there but she has still not been proved right, much, much as conditions have improved in Taiwan.
For those who want to feel good in their clothes, there is another option of preferring goods from Taiwan to China, or whatever the equivalent is: to buy a few products from nice places in the hope of encouraging them more viable than nasty places.
To buy shoes from nice countries and link to league tables on the net are ways of strengthening the economies of nice countries and the importance of league tables on the net. These benefits are matched by more obscure ones. The chances of wealth trickling-down the buying chain, so that the shoe maker is paid more and the advertising department less, is greater if the shoe is made in a country with universal schools & pensions than in China which privatized its hospitals in the 1990s for example or Burma which never had many. Environmental and employment laws are much more detailed in some countries than others, too.
Governments and pressure groups are much less interested in publicising the countries with the most comfortable welfare states than those with the most democracy and legal rights. The CIA World Fact book even slips-in a criticism of Italy's "excessive pensions", as though none of us will get old and a cheap-to-run universal pension is a bad thing. And federal countries like India and the USA can have very different welfare in each state from which shoes are stamped "made in USA" or "Made in India" so the idea of a country does fall-down for this purpose. Some vegan shoes shops have used a factory in Wisconsin. Veganline.com used a UK factory which then moved to India - we have no way of knowing which state.
AZOIn the UK and Europe, the use of 22 suspect AZO dyes have been discouraged by laws banning their use in each member state, following an EU directive. The dyes are most likely still used, for example in cloth and shoe uppers brought-in to the EU, but company buyers have to be aware of the problem and batches of material - including all the microfibre shoe upper - that are made in the EU should be AZO-free, as should cheap shoe-uppers made in Albania for making into shoes in Italy. VOCIn the UK and Europe, governments have agreed to outlaw industrial-scale glue users using volatile organic compounds to dissolve their glue as most of us consumers do. Only the trickier process of forming an emulsion of glue in hot water to spray onto the bits is legal. When a shoe is marked "made in UK" or "made in EU" that generally means that the uppers have been stretched round a mould and stuck-on to a sole in that country, so it's fair to say that a shoe made in the EU has produced few volatile organic compounds and this has a direct effect on footwear employees: an old survey of Portuguese shoe factory staff found reduced fertility among people who had to smell volatile organic solvents all day before the EU directive, and that effect is now reduced by buying EU shoes. Surprisingly, it is possible to glue shoes at home - many UK motorcycle boots used to be made by home workers and some Portuguese loafers still are - so the process may be beyond the reach of anyone who can enforce the law, but hopefully home workers are at least aware of the problem and can open a window and turn-on a fan.
- The Footwear (Indication of Composition) Labelling Regulations 1995 give any UK consumer a chance to see how environmentally friendly a product is: a recent UN report, Livestock's Long Shadow, listed massive environmental benefits of reducing the use of animal products, quite apart from reducing cruelty to animals which is obviously a sane thing to be interested in. There's no need to read the whole thing. The first page or two summarises the rest as do in the Vegan Society's leaflets Eating the Earth and Give Leather the Boot.
One problem of about ethical and environmental claims made of footwear is that they concentrate too much on the details, like whether something is organic, or made in an interesting employment project in the third world, or improves conditions in China by a small amount while still undercutting factories in the UK or India. From a journalist's point of view it is an attempt to find new news in footwear. Footwear changes slower than tailoring because the tooling costs are higher; a fashion designer can get a sewing machine for free to make samples while a shoe designer can't do much before buying £15,000 stretching machines from Taiwan or £1,000 injection moulds for each size of sole. Exceptions are larger companies which know they can sell a thousand or a hundred thousand and factor-in the tooling and set-up costs without even thinking about it - one of their suppliers' criticisms - but these produce for the sleepy middle market making them boring to read about even for the people who buy middle-market shoes from mainstream shops.
Some shoemakers are extra-ordinarily thrifty with two of Veganline.com's suppliers still keeping a hundred year-old machines in their factories and some of the moulds or lasts dating from the 1940s, but it's hard to report a green use of tools unless you're writing for Footwear Today in the past, before it closed.
From a reader's point of view, journalists' articles over many years have been absorbed and digested and tend to say that footwear has gone to China now; there is nothing to be done in countries with things like courts votes or a welfare state, only attempts to help outsiders from even poorer countries join the market or manufacturers with a green and organic tinge. This is not a statement of the facts. Some footwear is still produced in the UK, Spain, France and Portugal for example in factories following employment laws and paying taxes towards welfare states. It's just what's in the papers.
If there was a fair way of saying how quickly work should move from comfortable countries to hard-working countries, it would be possible to say that that production fairly transferred from the UK or India to China is not newsworthy in either country until any unusual fact emerges in either country, which is called news. If it is not possible to say how quickly work should transfer: if some governments hike-up or hike-down their exchange rates to suit the elite in the UK or China, as both do, if autocracies compete unfairly with welfare states and the judges of dumping into the EU and US are Peter Mandelson or his US counterpart, then it's hard to know what fair trade is.
Should an enterprising factory that stays open in the UK be reported like a charity? Or if it's working conditions are better than China but worse than the UK, a bad scandal if in the UK or a beacon of hope in China? Reporting of textile workers' conditions suggests that, after being flogged to death, if their bodies are disposed of in an eco-friendly way then that gets a good press if it's in China but if the same shop employs people for less than the basic wage in Manchester than that's a bad thing because it makes a mess on the pavement. Turkish, Indian or Indonesian factories are not reported as good or bad because the two extremes are so hard to report, any position between the two is impossible to report. That's an exaggerated description but one company - Patagonia - with a very good reputation for well made hiking boots, transparency, enthusiasm and such made it into the Observer Ethical Fashion awards for just those reasons, even though their adverts the same year for factory inspectors mentioned almost nothing about employee's conditions, the shoes were made in China and they were made out of leather. Such is Patagonia's transparency that their newly employed factory inspector posted a believable account of his views in video and audio format on U-tube. He stated that the only job he wouldn't want to do among his employer's contractor's staff in China was gluing; that the choice of leathers in the past had been extravagant "because it's like putting one plate through the dishwasher" and of course he mentions nothing about employing staff in an autocracy. He might mention it in private, but even this transparent company with its good reputation for good boots doesn't write "we support autocracies" in its PR and somehow this factory inspector must have known this when he considered what to put on U-tube.
In this impossibility are placed fashion journalists, who by nature are unlikely to be vegetarian or vegan because their job is to report on leather; they are unlikely to be troubled by goods made outside welfare states or democracies because that has been the overwhelming part of their job these last decades and anyway factory closures belong on the business pages. The job of a fashion journalist is to make a paper look more upmarket than any human being really is in order to attract advertisers and advertiser's readers. To report the posh new Hunter Wellington Boot for only £2,999 (Observer Special Offer) rather than the fact that Hunter now imports Chinese wellington boots. Gradually this job is turning-in to the job of reporting whether a boot made in the UK is better than a boot made in China; for the world of fashion journalism and shoes made in reasonable conditions out of reasonable materials to meet.
- More labels will follow: Veganline.com is increasing the range of symbols and information links next to each shoe so that consumers can decide what to buy. Over time this information might include the more attention-grabbing features like a shoe being made in a staff-owned company, made using recycled parts, using organic hemp canvas or being fit for the compost bin.
- We have not yet found a neat comparison of welfare systems and access to justice in different countries and Indian states. For example, Albania where most of the safety boots are made is said to have free hospitals, but we haven't linked to an online table to confirm that. Likewise there are Indian states that provide good free hospitals, but labelling regulations just require "India". Those who produce tables tend to be in the USA or Europe, making it hard to quote smaller human rights web sites published closer to the problem. If you know of any kind of league table, please let us know using the form below.
It's possible to opt-in to quarterly e-mails with a specific option on the order form. These don't exist at present but if set-up they would have an opt-out on each email sent. Sometimes lists are set-up of people who want to be told when a batch of shoes come-in. These are only used once. Some people use Changedetection.com to monitor additions to the sale pages. Each change detection email has an opt-out link.
There are plenty of other questions, less directly related to shoes, which are now answered on the pages