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Leather Alternatives -- Frequently Asked Questions
Compiled by Tom Swiss
A guide for those attempting to reduce or eliminate their use of animal skins for clothing or other uses.

Document Sections:

Introduction
Vegetarians and the Use of Leather Goods
Environmental Considerations
Wholesale Distributors of Non-Leather Goods
Mail Order and Catalog Sources of Non-Leather Goods, USA
Sources of Non-Leather Goods in the United Kingdom
Athletic Shoes
Hiking Boots
Work Boots
Snow/Cold Weather Boots
Dress and Other Shoes
Accessories
Specialty Items
Ballet Shoes
Balls and Gloves
Biking Gloves
Drums
Ice Skates
"Leather" Jackets
Motorcycle Gear
Work Gloves
General Hints
World Wide Web Sites for More Information
List of Contributors

Introduction

The Leather Alternatives FAQ is compiled by Tom Swiss. It was last modified May 6 1996. Copyright (C) 1992-1996. Please copy, share and enjoy this information. Send praise, information, flames, money, beer, etcetera to tms@mail.bcpl.lib.md.us. To get the latest copy of this file, set your WWW browser to http://www.envirolink.org/arrs/faqleather.html, wait until it is posted to the USENET newsgroup rec.food.veg (the 28th of every month), send e-mail to me at tms@mail.bcpl.lib.md.us, or send a self-addressed stamped envelope for a paper copy to: Tom Swiss, 2119 Arlonne Drive, Baltimore, MD, 21228.

You are encouraged to print this list out and distribute unmodified copies to your non-netting friends or local vegetarian organization, so long as you do not do so for monetary profit.

This list is only as good as the information I get. If you have comments on any of the stores, catalogs or products mentioned in this list, or if you know of other good products or sources, please send them to me!

I've tried to give credit where it is due and include the names and e-mail addresses of people who send me information. This also allows people who may be curious about a product or supplier to contact the person who gave me the information. If you'd like to send me information, but don't want to deal with questions from curious consumers, tell me and I won't list your name. Where I've quoted people directly, I've tried to indicate any changes or updates in square brackets, [].

If you send information about a vendor, please include the regular phone number as well as any 800 (toll-free) number, which cannot be used by folks outside the USA. Many, many thanks to all contributors!

Vegetarians and the Use of Leather Goods

For the benefit of our "lurking omnivores", and for those new to vegetarianism, we should start with a few words about the attitude of vegetarians towards the use of leather goods. We should note that there are some vegetarians who have little or no objection to the use of leather and other animal-derived goods; many who adopt a vegetarian diet primarily for reasons of health would fall into this category, as would some who adopt a vegetarian diet for its lower environmental impact (but see below). Even those who are vegetarian for ethical reasons may use some leather goods - if there is no available alternative, if the goods were gifts, or purchased before the person became a vegetarian or purchased by mistake. I own a pool cue with a leather tip I bought many years ago, and I used to have a pair of leather hiking boots I bought thinking they were synthetic, and that I was unable to return.

Thus, a vegetarian wearing leather shoes is not necessarily a hypocrite.

Environmental Considerations

Some claim that using leather alternatives is harmful to the environment, as these alternatives usually use plastics which are derived from petrochemicals, or fabrics like cotton whose production often involves the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. However, the production of leather is also damaging to the environment.

From the Nov/Dec 1991 issue of the Vegetarian Journal (much of the other information presented here is from the same issue.)

Environmentally, turning animal hides into leather is an energy intensive and polluting practice. The Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology states, "On the basis of quantity of energy consumed per unit of product produced, the leather-manufacturing industry would be categorized with the aluminum, paper, steel, cement, and petroleum-manufacturing industries as a gross consumer of energy." Production of leather basically involves soaking (beamhouse), tanning, dyeing, drying, and finishing. Over 95% of all leather produced in the U.S. is chrome tanned. The effluent that must be treated is primarily related to the beamhouse and tanning operations. The most difficult to treat is effluent from the tanning process. All wastes containing chromium are considered hazardous by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Many other pollutants involved in the processing leather are associated with environmental and health risks. In terms of disposal, one would think that leather products would be biodegradable, but the primary function for a tanning agent is to stabilize the collagen or protein fibers so that they are no longer biodegradable.

Evaluating the relative environmental and health costs of leather versus non-leather products is difficult to do. It is apparent that they all involve practices that can adversely affect public health and the environment. Since leather is intimately related to the exploitation of animals, it seems most desirable to buy canvas, limit purchases, go barefoot, and encourage companies to develop more ecologically sound alternatives.

And this doesn't even take into account the ecological cost of modern animal agriculture techniques.

Wholesale Distributors of Non-Leather Goods

The following companies don't sell directly to the public. Contact them to find a store in your area that carries their products:

Ex-tredz, Ontario, Canada, (605) 795-9205. Vests, coats, etcetera from recycled rubber.

Deja Shoe, 15806 SW Upper Boones Ferry Rd., Lake Oswego, OR 97035, (503) 598-9171. Shoes made with recycled materials. Some contain wool.

Mail Order and Catalog Sources of Non-Leather Goods, USA

The following carry only non-leather items:

Heartland Products Ltd., Box 218, Dakota City, IA 50529, (515) 332-3087. On the WWW: http::/www.trvnet.net/~hrtlndp.

Aesop Inc., P.O. Box 315, N. Cambridge, MA 02140, (617) 628-8030. On the WWW http://www.aesopinc.com, e-mail aesop@aesopinc.com.

Creatureless Comforts, 702 Page Street, Stroughton, MA 02072. Synthetic leather purses and belts.

Ecotrek, P.O. Box 9638, Amherst, MA 01059, (800) 858-1383. Backpacks made from recycled materials. (Wool used to be used in their products, but is no longer.)

Just in Case, 2718 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA 90405, (800) 326-4036. Bags, briefcases, wallets, etcetera.

Pangea, 7829 Woodmont Avenue, Bethesda, MD (301) 652-3181. A new company; their store is in business, but their mail-order catalog isn't out yet.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), P.O. Box 42516, Washington, D.C. 20015, (301) 770-7382. Shoes and faux furs.

The Compassionate Shopper regularly lists companies that sell non-leather shoes. Contact Beauty Without Cruelty, 175 W. 12th St., #16G, New York, NY 10011-8275.

The following sources carry both leather and non-leather products, so read carefully:

Avon Fashions, Avon Lane, Newport News, VA 23630, (800) 322-1119. Shoes, belts, and other clothing items made from synthetic leather. (I get the impression that they only carry women's clothing, but I'm not sure.) I have had a complaint about the quality of the goods sold by this company; caveat emptor.

Birkenstock Express, 301 SW Madison Avenue, Corvallis, OR 97333 (800) 451-1459 from the U.S, (503) 758-7631 outside. Birkenstocks in the Alternative line are non-leather. This is the mail-order operation of Footwise - the Birkenstock store. Their web page is http://www.footwise.com/. While not an official e-mail address for the company, you can reach one of the owners, Peter Wendel, at wendelp@mail.oneworld.com.

John Blair Co, Warren, PA 16366. Mostly women's shoes, some men's shoes and work boots.

Brights Creek, Bay Point Place, Hampton, VA 23653, (800) 622-9202. Excellent selection of non-leather children's shoes.

Forestry Suppliers Inc., 205 W. Rankin St., P.O. Box 8397, Jackson Ms 39284-8397, (800) 647-5368. LaCrosse Timber Boots (see below).

J. Crew, One Ivy Crescent, Lynchburg, VA 24506-1001, (800) 932-0043. Men's and women's canvas deck shoes and thongs, women's espadrilles, slip-ons and tie sneakers.

L.L. Bean, (800) 221-4221. Various New Balance shoes (see below), Canvas Main Canoe Shoes, River Runner Thongs and Sandals, canvas Sperry Top-Siders, non-leather bags, watch bands and jackets.

Mass Army Navy, 15 Fordham Road, Boston MA, 02134. (800) 343-7749. Non-leather belts, briefcases, and boots can sometimes be found in their catalog.

Massey's, (800) 627-7397. Canvas and synthetic slip-ons, leather-like flats, pumps, and other styles. Somewhat pricey.

Old Pueblo Traders (OPT), Palo Verde at 34th, P.O. Box 27800, Tucson, AZ 85726-7800, (602) 748-8600. Women's shoes, sandals, and boots, many in hard-to-find sizes. Leatherlike pants, suedelike skirts, and faux furs.

J.C. Penny, (800) 222-6161. Often carries some non-leather products.

Pueblo to People, 2105 Silber Road, Suite 101-54, Houston, TX 77055, (800) 843-5257. Cheryl Stewart, who gave me their address, says they are "an alternative trade organization. They have some leather alternative products, many made of Guatemalan cloth. It is a nonprofit organization with the philosophy trade, not aid. They have beautiful catalogs." They also have groovy palm leaf hats.

Real Goods, 966 Mazzoni Street, Ukiah, CA 95482-3471. Voice (800) 762-7325, Fax (707) 468-9486. Deja Shoes; many other groovy products including a leather-looking backpack made "EKKO" cloth, a non-polluting combination of natural and synthetic rubbers.

Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI), (800) 426-4840. REI carries two non-leather sandals, the Kahala and the Response. They have the Novara Lifeline Lycra bicycling glove, and non-leather bags, backpacks, deck booties, and watch bands.

Roaman's, (800) 274-7130. Often has some non-leather shoes.

Sears Roebuck, (800) 366-3000. Several types of synthetic footwear, in canvas and suedelike materials.

Smith & Hawken, (415) 383-2000. Rubberlike garden clogs for men and women.

Sports Wave, 5484 S.W. Alger, Suite #G-13, Beaverton, OR 97005, (800) 322-3381. Avia shoes (see below).

The Tog Shop, (912) 924-4800. Women's shoes: canvas sneakers, rubber rain boots, sandals, slip-ons and slippers.

WearGuard Work Clothes, (800) 388-3300. Walkers in Chukka and Oxford styles, rubber steel-toe and waterproof boots. "No Sweat" work gloves (see below).

Salvage, 656 Romero Canyon Rd., Montecito, CA 93108-1527, Voice: (805) 569-5988, Fax (805) 969-7422. Oxford and High-top convertible to a mid-top. (I'm not sure if all their products are leather-free or not.)

Sources of Non-Leather Goods in the United Kingdom

There seem to be enough sources in the UK to almost warrant an over-seas shopping trip for those of us in other countries. Veggie Jacks and Vegetarian Shoes do international mail-order; write for a catalog. Thanks to Stephanie Peters and Geraint A Edwards for help with updated UK phone numbers. UK numbers are given in international format, e.g. +44 (0) 1234 567890, where +44 is the UK country code and the zero is for non-international callers only.

Vegetarian Shoes, 12 Gardner St, Brighton, BN1 1UP, United Kingdom. Phone +44 (0) 1273 691913. Everything from combat boots to high heels, also jackets and accessories. I got a pair of Doc Martens "Rangers" and a biker-style jacket from these folks; they kept me warm and dry through the winter of '96. (Which was an extremely nasty one around here.) For those in the US, Heartland Products carries some of their products.

Ethical Wares, 84 Clyde Way, Rise Park, Romford, Essex, RM1 4UT, Phone/fax +44 (0) 1708 739293. "Mostly outdoory shoes (hiking boots/training shoes), bags, belts," says Andrew Smallbone. For those in the US, Aesop carries some of their products.

Veggie Jacks, 25 Gardner St, Brighton, BN1 1UP, United Kingdom Phone +44 (0) 1273 626498. A variety of jackets in faux-leather and waxed cloth, and various accessories.

MOKO (formerly Wild Things), Severn House, 66 Spring Gardens, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY1 2TE. Phone +44 (0) 1743 232700 or +44 (0) 1743 233352.

John@portsveg.demon.co.uk (John Davis) sent me the following:

The following list is from an Information Sheet produced by the Vegetarian Society (UK):

The Vegetarian Society (UK), Parkdale, Dunham Road, Altrincham, Cheshire WA14 4QG, England. tel: +44 (0) 161 928 0793. Email: vegsoc@vegsoc.demon.co.uk. Mail order catalogue available. Stock a range of non-leather belts, bags, wallets and non-leather jackets. Range liable to change from time to time.

Sage Designs, 4 Clifton Street, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 3PH, England. tel: +44 (0) 1273 203821 - non-leather jackets and accessories.

Alchuringa, Unit 2, Stable Cottage, Derry Ormond Park, Betws Bledrws, Lampeter, Dyfed SA48 8PA, Wales. tel: +44 (0) 1570 45557 - handmade, made to measure footwear for women and men in breathable synthetic materials.

These are from other sources:

Made to Last Ltd, "more choice than a cow's got / it's no skin off my back!" Handmade footwear for kids and adults in non-leather. sase for leaflet to: Made to Last Workers Co-op, 8 The Crescent, Leeds LS6 2NW, England tel: +44 (0) 113 230 4983

Green Shoes, range of non-leather vegan shoes. Handmade footwear for adults and children made from high quality non-leather material, strong water resistant and breathes. 7 colours available and 26 designs. Send sase for colour catalogue: Green Shoes, Station Road Totnes, Devon TQ9 5HW, England tel: +44 (0) 1803 864997

Athletic Shoes

Men's: Addias - materials listed on box; call (800) 448-1796 for information. Asics GT-2010. Avia Stability Trainers and Defenders (possibly also those with hydrolite or HLT2, the 141 crosstrainer, the 2000 series running shoes, the 333, Arc 351, and Arc 383 walking shoes, and several basketballs shoes, but that's all based on old information). Brooks Vangaurds. Converse All Stars ("Chuck Taylors") and canvas One Stars. I'm told Converse has also started making a heavier "army-boot" style shoe with heavier canvas and a chunky sole. Etonic Stableairs. K-Swiss canvas sneakers. New Balance - most running and some walking shoes, read labels or write to 61 N. Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02134 for a current list of non-leather shoes. Rob Spray likes his Asahi MY-3 tennis shoes. Nike - call (800) 344-NIKE for a list of animal product-free shoes; many of their non-leather shoes use a synthetic called Durabuck. Saucony G.R.I.D. Sensation II, possibly others. Vans canvas, flannel, linnen oxfords; (800) 750-VANS for more information.

Women's: Addias - materials listed on box; call (800) 448-1796 for information. Asics GT-2010. Avia Stability Trainers (and possibly the 680 and 525 aerobics shoes, running shoes in the 2000 series, the 333, 383, and 351 walking shoes, but that's old information). Converse All Stars and canvas One Stars. Etonic Stableairs. Keds canvas shoes. New Balance - all running shoes and the 590 walking shoe; read labels or write to 61 N. Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02134 for a current list of non-leather shoes. Nike - call (800) 344-NIKE for a list of animal product-free shoes; many of their non-leather shoes use a synthetic called Durabuck. Reebok canvas sneakers. Richard Simmon's line from Payless Shoe Source. Saucony G.R.I.D. Sensation II, possibly others. Tretorn canvas tennis and walking shoes. Vans canvas, flannel, linnen oxfords, mules, and Mary Janes; (800) 750-VANS for more information.

Children's: Attack Force. Converse All Stars. Nike shoes with Durabuck (that number again, (800) 344-NIKE). Pro Wings. WJ 900.

Aesop carries leather-free shoes made by Etonic, New Balance, and Tretorn.

Kim Laurie on rock climbing shoes:

In addition to the LaSportiva 'Tao's which I posted mention of some years ago there are now a few more to chose from. The La Sportiva 'Tao's are a popular shoe. They are of 'slip lasted' construction and made from Lorica. The advantage of the Lorica over a conventional leather shoe is that it will not stretch and this is very critical in a climbing shoe where fit is everything. In addition EB of France produce a 'board lasted' technical boot called the 'Tropicana' As the name suggests it is brightly colored. Pretty standard construction using fabric and rubber. They look good (which is important in this sport!) but I found that the rubber soles are only average in grip. These I found in Ellis Brigham Sports in London ph. [+44 (0) 171 240 9577]. A much better slipper I found is the US made 5.10 called the 'Anastasi'. This is slip lasted for good feel and features the best sticking rubber soles in the game, their own Stealth 5.10 rubber which sticks like a bugger(sp? we say boogy) to your finger. They are available in a Velcro strap model which I find really convenient for bouldering as you can get them on and off quickly when your feet are crying out in pain. They have an off-centre toe point which is really smart when you think about it because so does your foot! I got these at Snow and Rock in London at 150 Holborn St. EC1 Ph. [+44 (0) 171 831 6900] or for mail order [+44 (0) 1753-830 868]. In the USA I believe that you can get them from Western Mountaineering in Cupertino CA, La Sportiva 'Tao's available here too. In fact most good climbing shops will carry the 5.10s and the Tao's.

She also says that Palladium and other 'knock-offs' from Asia and India produce Chuck Taylor-like canvas and rubber shoes and boots.

Allen Schubert says, "As best I can tell, Asics makes nonleather/sythetic footwear. Whenever they _do_ use leather, it is labelled as such."

The following information comes from Nike:

Nike Spring 1996 Footwear Containing No Animal Products

Men's Technical Running: Air Max, Air Max Light, Air Structure II, Air Footscape, Air Max Triax, Air Structure Triax, Air Skylon Triax, Air Pegasus, Air Windrunner, Air Terra Tor, Air Terra Outback, Air Trail.

Women's Technical Running:Air Max, Air Max Light, Air Structure II, Air Footscape, Air Max Triax, Air Structure Triax, Air Skylon Triax, Air Pegasus, Air Windrunner, Air Terra Outback, Air Trail.

Racing Shoes: Air Rift, Zoom Rotational, Air Streak, Air Skylon T/C, Air Mariah, Air Treak Light.

Track & Field: Zoom Super Fly, Zoom Eldoret, Zoom Swift, Zoom V, Zoom Country, Zoom Rival D, Zoom Jav, Zoom LJ, Zoom HJ.

Men's Non-Tech Running: Air Grudge, Air Elixir, Ceres, Cortez, Sustain V, Sustain.

Women's Non-Tech Running: Air Grudge, Air Elixir, Ceres, Outburst.

Men's Basketball: Air Max Uptempo, Air Max Penny, Air Zoom Flight, Air Tenacity Low (canvas), Inside Force (canvas).

Women's Basketball: Air Swoops, Air Roll NDestrukt [sic] (canvas), Air Flight One

Men's Tennis: Air Alarm, Kooyong (canvas), GTS (canvas), Courtster (canvas).

Women's Tennis: Air Vitesse, Courtster (canvas), GTS Light (canvas).

Men's Volleyball Air Bohemian Lite, Air Boho.

Women's Volleyball Air Boho.

Men's Cross-Training: Air Griffey Max, Air Worp, Air D.T. Max, Air Edge, Air Trainer Max, Air Trainer Press, Air Diamond Fury 2 Mid, Air Diamond Trainer 2, Air Barrage Mid, Air Barrage, Air Barrage (canvas).

Women's Cross-Training: Air Trainer Patrol, Air Worp, Air Trainer Press, Air Trainer GR, Air Barrage (canvas), Sandstar (canvas), Air Screech.

Men's ACG Sandals: Air Revir [sic], Air River Guide, Air Deschutz IV, Selway Extra, Aqua Turf, Aqua Sock Extra.

Women's ACG Sandals: Air River Guide, Air Deschutz IV, Aqua Sock Extra.

Men's Golf: SGE, Setup.

Women's Golf: Colwood.

Women's Cheerleading: Spirit Colors

Women's Run/Walk: Air Delphina.

Men's Baseball/Softball: Air Griffey Metal, Air Diamond Fury 3/4, Air Show Fury 3/4, MCS Diamond Fury 3/4, Air Diamond Trainer, Air Slider, Slasher, Air Slam MCS, MCS Keystone 3/4, MCS Keystone, Air Conversion 3/4, Air Conversion.

Men's Football: Barrage D, Strike Force High, Strike Force, Air Griffey Metal, Air Diamond Fury 3/4.

Men's Street Hockey: Air Street Defender, Air Street Express.

Men's Soccer: Estadio D, Estadio M, Estadio TF, Estadio TR, Soccer Sandal.

Kid's Soccer: Estadio Jr. M, Estadio Jr. TF, Estadio TR.

Women's Fitness: Air Max Structure, Air Wrapido, Air World Vibe, Bria (canvas).

Women's Softball: Air Circuit 3/4, MCS.

Kid's Street Hockey: Air Street Defender, Air Street Express.

Kid's Sandals: Air Deschutz II, Air Deschutz, Land Slide, Youth Aqua Sock.

Boy's: Roll NDestrukt [sic] (canvas), Jr. Barrage (canvas), Courtster (canvas), GTS Plus (canvas), Air Trainer Max, Air Max Traix, Air Alarm.

Girl's: Sandstar Low (canvas), Courtster (canvas), Bria (canvas), Spirit (cheerleading).

Infants: Baby Barrage (canvas), Baby GTS (canvas), Baby Deschutz (sandal), Baby Land Slide (sandal), Baby Aqua Sock.

Hiking Boots

Hi-Tec Sierra Sneaker: All canvas hiking boot. Available from Heartland or REI.

Aesop and Heartland both carry quality leather-like hiking boots.

Rugged Outback: Leatherlike hiking sneakers. Available at Payless Shoe Source.

Your mother can wear combat boots even if she's vegan. There's an Israeli desert combat boot made of canvas. One surplus catalog I've seen them in is Mass Army Navy.

In the U.K.:

Michael Traub says that non-leather hiking boots are available from Cader Idris Outdoor Gear, Eldon Square, Dolgellau, Gwynedd LL40 1PS, Phone +44 (0) 1341 422195. Access and Visa accepted. Prices 29.50 to 49.99.

Kim Laurie told me about Ethical Wares, who carry boots by Demon of Italy "using 'Lorica', a tough hi-tech synthetic leather. The 'Woodland' is all black Lorica, Cambrelle lining, padded collar, padded bellows tongue, watertight construction with a Vibram sole. The 'Weald' is brown Lorica and nylon construction, breathes better but not as watertight."

Vegetarian Shoes has several models of hiking boots; I have a pair of Doc Marten "Rangers" I ordered from them that I'm happy with, but I haven't tried them on any serious hikes yet.

Work Boots

Heartland Products carries a leatherlike boot with a steel toe.

LaCrosse Timber Boots: Rugged all-rubber boots, 12" high with felt midsole, foam insulation and knobby soles.

I've seen synthetic steel-toed boots at places like Payless and Pic 'n Pay.

WearGuard Work Clothers carries rubber steel-toe boots.

Kim Laurie again: "Caterpillar of the USA produce a range of industrial looking leather 'walking machines' but also make a heavy duty canvas model in black or baby poo brown. They have padded collars and a chunky sole. Do check carefully though because I found the same model to have either leather or synthetic trim around the collar. I don't know what is the current choice of material."

Vegetarian Shoes has several models of work boots.

Snow/Cold Weather Boots

Kim Laurie: "ROHDE of Germany and PRC of Italy produce walking boots designed for snowy conditions. Both of these are synthetic fleece lined and look comfortable. Water resistant but not waterproof. Synthetic fabric construction claims to breathe. Designed with warmth and comfort in mind more than ruggedness. The PRC boots called 'Kampus' are available from Ellis Brigham Sports in Covent Garden, London Ph. [+44 (0) 171 240 9577]. The RHODE models were spotted down in Penzance in the far corner of England, the name of the shop eludes me but I am certain they are a popular brand around Europe."

It's not hard to find rubber and fabric snowboots. L.L. Bean has some types.

 

Dress and Other Shoes

Read labels. (Aren't most vegetarians compulsive label readers by now anyway?) Look for the words "All man-made materials", or for shoes made from canvas or other obviously non-leather fabric. Try Payless Shoe Source, Fayva, Kinney, K-Mart, Sears, J.C. Penny, Pic 'N Pay, Woolworth, Thom McAnn, Wal-Mart, Marshalls, and other inexpensive chains. You may find at least one non-leather model even at more expensive stores, but why pay more?

Tom Billings reports that non-leather narrow width men's dress shoes are just about impossible to find. Any information on sources for such shoes would be appreciated.

Shari Dawson tells me that Naturalizer shoe stores carry a variety of women's shoes in imitation leather and suede, including narrow sizes.

Vegetarian Shoes in the UK. Michael Traub says they "make synthetic shoes which will easily outlast leather shoes. They also require less maintenance (i.e. no need to polish them)." Real Goods carries Deja Shoes, made from recycled materials. Several styles. (I have a pair of their "Gaia Rovers", which are hiking-boot style shoes fine for day-to-day wear, but not up to any long hikes.) Vegetarian Shoes also carries some Deja Shoes, but notes that they contain wool in the insole and may not be suitable for vegans.

Val Voorheis reports that Kenneth Cole's UNLISTED line "has a lot of non-leather shoes. They are all clearly marked (and the non-leatherness is part of the advertising). They have a toll-free number, 1-800-UNLISTED, for information on retail locations that carry these products. In addition, some of them are pretty stylin', they are pretty good quality, and moderately priced (not Payless prices, but not terribly out of line.)"

Kim Laurie reports that "Dr. Martens of England, well known for their industrial strength stitched leather boots and shoes, also produce a range of highly fashionable fabric and synthetic models using the same 'air ware' synthetic sole and stitched construction." She also mentioned Shelley's Shoes in London and Schuh Fashions for Feet in Edinburgh, Scotland. These Doc Martins are also available from Vegetarian Shoes.

Birkenstock makes leather-free versions of some models - the Arizona, the Milano, and the Florida. Note that other sandals may have non-leather straps but still have the suede liner; those in the Alternative line have "Birko-Flor" straps, "Birko-Lon" liners, and are leather-free. They are also a lot less expensive! Available from Birkenstock Express.

Heartland Products and Aesop have plenty of shoes.

Accessories

Belts: Aesop and Heartland are good sources. The belts that sometimes come with pants are almost always non-leather. Canvas belts with the brass slide-through buckles (like Boy Scouts use) can be found at any outdoor sports store; they last just about forever! Military BDU belts are also canvas but have a different style of buckle; you can often find them at military surplus stores, or from Mass Army Navy.

Briefcases: Inexpensive briefcases at office supply stores are often non-leather. Aesop carries both a business attache and portfolio. Land's End has a canvas briefcase. (Or ditch the briefcase and get a nice backpack or satchel - they're easier to carry on the bus or subway.) Mass Army Navy sometimes has canvas military style briefcases, or even aluminum attache cases that look like they should be handcuffed to someone's wrist.

Handbags and wallets: Most department stores carry some non-leather bags and wallets. Sporting goods stores often carry nylon or canvas wallets. Pueblo to People carries wallets made with Guatemalan woven cloth.

Specialty Items

Ballet Shoes: R.G. Barry Corp., Box 129, Columbus OH 43216; or Capezio, (800) 533-1887 to find a store near you.

Balls and Gloves: Spalding Sports offers a synthetic leather volleyball, basketball, and soccer ball. The Vegetarian Resource Group says that Spalding makes a vinyl baseball/softball glove, but one netter says he called Spalding and they didn't know what he was talking about. (800) 225-6601 to find stores in your area that carry Spalding products. Dudley makes a synthetic softball: (800) 523-5387. Heartland Products carries a non-leather glove made from poly-vinyl.

Ice Skates: L.L. Bean's Bauer hockey skates with nylon and synthetic leather uppers.

Biking Gloves: REI carries Novara Lightning Gloves and Novara Lifeline Lyrca Gloves, made from Nash - a fabric that looks and feels like leather but wears even better. No leather palms on these gloves. Cotton/spandex "skiing" gloves have also been recommended. Joe Clark found a non-leather brand of winter bicycling gloves called "Paris" at a store up in Toronto; he also recommends "Pearl Izumi Lobster Therma-Dores" for warmer weather.

Drums: The following companies carry doumbeks, bodhrans, and similar drums made with synthetic Fiberskyn or mylar instead of animal skins (and other pretty groovy musical instruments too):

Cooperman Fife & Drum Co. Outlet: PO Box 276, Centerbrook CT 06409, (203) 767-1779. Mill: Route 121 (PO Box 821), Bellows Falls VT 05101 (802) 463-9750.

Lark in the Morning, PO Box 1176, Mendocino CA 95460, (707) 964-5569, fax (707) 964-1979; also South Arcade Building, 1411 First Ave., Seattle, WA (206) 623-3440. They're on the WWW at http://www.larkinam.com/, or e-mail larkinam@larkinam.com.

Mid-east Mfg., Inc, 7694 Progress Circle West Melbourne FL 32904 USA, (407) 724-1477, fax (407) 952-1080. They're on the WWW at http://www.mid-east.com/, or e-mail stevek@mid-east.com.

Remo, Inc., Customer Service, 12804 Raymer St., North Hollywood CA (818) 983-2600

"Leather" Jackets: Avon Products carries a leather look-alike dress jacket. A company called Windbreaker makes a fairly good-looking, but only moderately durable, biker-style jacket, but the only store I knew carries them has closed. Graham Hilling says a store in the UK, Veggie Jacks carries leather-like synthetic jackets. Vegetarian Shoes has their own line of "Real Fake" jackets - I have one and love it! Heartland Products carries some of the Vegetarian Shoes jackets.

Motorcycle Gear: In the U.K., there's a company called Mocatan, producing non-leather goods including biker jackets and boots. They were in Wolverhampton, moved to Manchester, then closed down, but John Davis told me that they were bought out and started up again. The last address I have for them was provided by David L. Jackson and is Mocotan, 283 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4EW, U.K. Also in the U.K., the Vegan Bikers Association can be reached at jscolem@ibm.net or http://www.nildram.co.uk/veganmc/. They provide information (mainly clothing related) to vegan motorcyclists. If any U.K. bikers get any info from them, I'd love to add it to the list. Also see the info on the store Veggie Jacks above. The waxed cloth jackets are said to be popular with touring bikers.

Hein Gericke apparently carries a non-leather motorcycle boot, according to Mike Johnson. Their U.K. mail-order phone number is +44 (0) 1904 679860.

Work Gloves: W. Wells Lamont "No Sweat" Gloves. Other cotton gloves aren't hard to find, look around.

 

General Hints

Look at the most inexpensive products - they are most likely to be non-leather.

Some vinyl shoes may squeak. Try mineral oil, hand cream, or similar lubricants between the noisy surfaces.

Many patent "leather" looking shoes are synthetic. Again, check the label for "all man-made materials."

"Leatherette" is a brand name of high-quality vinyl, not a form of leather.

 

World Wide Web Sites for More Information

The following World Wide Web sites have more information about alternatives to leather goods.

Vegetarian Society (UK), http://www.veg.org/veg/Orgs/VegSocUK/Info/footwear.html.

Animal Rights Resource Site, http://envirolink.org/arrs/clothing.html.

Aesop is a U.S. company that carries alternative products made without leather, including some from Ethical Wares in the U.K.. They're on the Web at http://www.aesopinc.com.

Heartland Products is another U.S. company that carries alternative products made without leather, including some from Vegetarian Shoes in the U.K. They're on the Web at http::/www.trvnet.net/~hrtlndp.

The Vegan Bikers Association has web pages at http://www.nildram.co.uk/veganmc/ that have some information about non-leather motorcycle gear.

List of Contributors

Thanks to the following for sending information. These folks did most of the legwork, I just put it together.

In no particular order:

Louise-Annette Burgess (burgessl@ucs.orst.edu)

Cheryl Stewart (cstewart@desire.wright.edu)

John Davis (John@portsveg.demon.co.uk)

Rob Spray (spray@trojan.convex.com)

Kim Laurie (kim@ozemail.com.au)

Joe Clark (joeclark@scilink.org)

Tim Tyler (tim@ais.org)

Michael Traub (traub@mistral.co.uk)

Tom Billings (teb@stat.Berkeley.edu)

Shari Dawson (c/o Greg_Dawson@mindlink.bc.ca)

Ashok Katwala (a.katwala@glass.jecsystems.com)

Val Voorheis (voorheis@econs.umass.edu)

Graham Hilling (Hillbill@sound.demon.co.uk)

David L. Jackson (mbhepdj@hpa.ee.man.ac.uk)

Peter Wendel (wendelp@mail.oneworld.com)

Tom Fritz (tfritz@execpc.com)

Allen Schubert (alathome@pixi.com)

Andy Bond (Andy@vegsoc.demon.co.uk)

Stephanie Peters (bj64@cityscape.co.uk)

Andrew Smallbone (andrew@lpac.ac.uk)

Also, the Nov/Dec 1991 issue of the Vegetarian Journal (published by the VRG) carried an article which inspired me to start the FAQ, and the May/June issue carried another nice article on the subject. Thanks to the writers, editors, and staff of that fine publication.

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