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 paragraphs are

What's wrong with leather

Why me?

What's about

What's wrong with leather? full page explanation ][ 100 reasons ]
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 that leather 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.

Why me?
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.

What's about?
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 trainersfootball 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.. 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, 2 Avenue Gardens, London SW14 8BP - see /news.htm

  • 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 it.
  • 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 credentials.
  • 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 pounds.
  • We are members of Ethical Junction and Vegan Society trademark holders.

Why be bad? Why not sell X Y or Z on a nifty site? 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. 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 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 - shoe 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 Monetary 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 it better.

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 Continuing in dour mode, there is a certain type of question:

"why aren't vegan shoes

  • cheap
  • various
  • organic
  • nearby
  • 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 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 comment.

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 Chinese shoes.

"I am

  • willing & able: see CV
  • someone who likes making things (or know someone) why are there only office Jobs - shoe trade around?
  • 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 - shoe 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