New Balance – Not Vegan?

New Balance Logo 2008

I think it is really important for clothing companies to disclose certain types of information about their products; really basic stuff they should know about their suppliers and manufacturers, such as whether they use child labor or what types of materials they’re .  Although I can understand why some companies would not WANT to disclose potentially incriminating information, there is no excuse for being uninformed about a simple question – do your shoes have animal products in them?

I got a surprising answer when I asked New Balance whether their shoes were vegan.  Some of them are constructed with a synthetic upper, so I just emailed them to ask whether there were other animals being used, in the glue perhaps.  Below is the email exchange:

Customer (Henry *******)
Dear New Balance,

I want to learn more about your vegan shoes. I saw that you make a lot of shoes with synthetic uppers but you don’t know what kind of glue is being used so you don’t know for sure if it’s completely vegan or not.

Is there any way of determining which factories use non-animal glues? Maybe you can track the ones coming out of those as being vegan. This is important to people like me, and knowing which products are animal friendly will factor into which shoes to buy. Please let me know if there is any more you can tell me.

Thanks so much!
Henry

Discussion Thread
Response (Consumer Response Team)
Dear Henry,

Thank you for contacting New Balance Consumer Support!

Unfortunately we are not capable of determining which factories use non-animal glues. While most of them probably don’t use them we cannot be 100 percent sure and we would not want to provide our customers with any misleading information. We truly apologize for not being able to provide you with this information.

Please let us know if you have any additional questions or concerns by email or phone at 800-622-1218.

Sincerely,

Sarah

New Balance Consumer Response Team

Not capable of determining which factories use non animal glue?  Not 100%?  I appreciate the honesty, and not wanting to mislead, but this is SUCH A COP OUT.  Don’t factories have quality control?  Doesn’t HQ work closely with the suppliers and manufacturers?  It seems disingenuous that they do not know exactly what goes into their shoes.  I would not expect this kind of ignorance from a international shoe company that sponsors world class athletes.  Very disappointing.

If you want to read there answer to this question on the New Balance website, click here.

The “Collaboration” – Ed Templeton x No Age x Emerica

Emerica No Age Collaboration

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Fellow vegans Ed Templeton and experimental rock band No Age have er, collaborated to design this sweet skate shoe the Collaboration, which dropped in October.   This hi-top is a subtle grey, with the band tag on the tongue, inner lining, and outsole sporting some green, yellow, and red highlights.  Of course, it wouldn’t be on this blog if it weren’t made out of all synthetic (plu organic)  materials!

I know that Ed Templeton has been a longtime outspoken vegan, and probably has had multiple signature models that were vegan.  But an indie band coming out with a shoe?  The only musicians I know in the sneaker game have been the likes of 50 Cent and G-Unit (and various other entrepreneurial rappers).  Is this a good thing?  Absolutely.  Any time a non-leather shoe drops is definitely a great thing for those of us looking for compassionate alternatives.

Also, check out the Laced (pictured below), which is another vegan low top (which looks just like the Vans Old Skool) but rocks a crazy green spray painted outsole design, and a paint splattered sole.  Not really my bag, but that’s just me.  Check it…

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Both sneakers are available at Millenium Shoes.

For more pictures of both, check out Sneakerfiles.

For more info about No Age’s veganism, check out this article.

Natalie Portman’s Vegan Shoe Line No More :(

natalieportman_tecasanshoes

Originally I was going to write this post to support Natalie Portman’s vegan shoe line, which dropped sometime in January 2008.  When I looked into where they were being sold, I found out that the only store that had the ins – Te Casan (in New York) – closed up shop later that year.  Bummer.  (UPDATE: a few of her shoes – on clearance ! – can still be found here.  My Bad!).  No news about a new line or any future plan of action.

Here is what Natalie had to say about her shoes: “It is a decision I made because of my love for animals, but it is also much better for the environment. It is very difficult to find non-leather shoes that are beautiful and comfortable. The Te Casan design team helped me sketch my ideas, from which I chose materials and colors. I love them all!”

Also, all of the proceeds (were there any?) were donated to the Nature Conservancy, a non-profit that works to protect ecologically sensitive bodies of land and water.  It’s really a shame the store shut down so soon after the launch.

For pictures of some of the shoes, check out Inhabitat.

Despite the fact that I am a guy, and know nothing about fashion or couture or whatever, I am really happy that high profile people like Natalie Portman are taking their compassion for animals and making things happen.  I have heard that others like Stella McCartney have designed cruelty free shoes as well.  Even though some of us can’t afford it, you have to admit that sometimes it takes trendsetters to turn heads in the fashion world, and this buzz can generate awareness and influence buying habits of the general public.

This post is also very relevant because recently Natalie Portman turned vegan!  I would highly recommend everyone read her essay in the Huffington Post about how Jonathan Safran Foer’s new book, Eating Animals, helped her move from vegetarian to vegan activist.   You go girl.

Saucony Jazz Low Pro

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Nice – A  classic running shoe made of hemp canvas!  The toe and the heel caps, as well as the midfoot use a tight weave canvas while the rest just looks like plain ol’ canvas.  Four colors are currently available: brown/tan/green, green/tan, stone grey/navy, or black/stone grey.   For more pictures, check out Sneaker Freaker or Nice Kicks.

A little while ago they were only available online in Germany (wtf?), but now you can order two of the colors on Shoebuy.  Funny though, the black/stone grey one is more expensive than the brown/tan/green one, and the latter is “canvas” while the former is “vegan.”  Weird.  According to other blogs, they are all vegan.

So the release of this shoe begs several questions.  Is this a sign of things to come?  Are we going to see more vegan releases from major brands?  Or is this just a niche market they’re testing?  I don’t see what companies like Saucony have to lose in offering a retro shoe made without animals.  They already have the design, and the materials shouldn’t be more expensive.  Plus, it reaches a new market.  Win-win!

Thanks for reading!  Please let me know if you have any comments or suggestions!

UPDATE :

Ladies can pick up a pair here at Amazon, or at Zappos. Guys can also get some at Zappos.

The Vegan Shoe Blog