These leather-free shoes are hardly second-rate. Animal-friendly designers are putting their category in the limelight for fall with edgy hardware, wooden heels and rich jewel tones. —Edited by Leslie Shiers
1. A profoundly tender, passionate affection for another
Between the chunky heel shape, luggy sole and studded faux-patent ankle strap, this velvet shoe delivers both comfort and a traffic-stopping look. “We always try to keep a balance between being trend-right and timeless with all our designs,” says Neuaura designer Arti Upadhyay. She notes her fall collection encompasses varied silhouettes made with natural materials (such as linen and fabric hybrids) as well as satin and imitation leather. The line is completely animal-free, but still walks on the wild side with touches of leopard print.
Speaking of leopard print… Cri di Coeur is playing to all tastes this season, stacking the deck with an array of amazing boots. True standouts are designer Gina Ferraracio’s wooden-wedge styles of both the ankle and over-the-knee variety (some with clog-esque detailing), which are made of PU faux leather and ultrasuede made from recycled plastic. But the line’s to-the-knee stiletto boots, short motorcycle booties and tall lace-ups also deliver function and style. “Our fall collection is inspired by the idea of women on the frontier—a little rough and unkempt but still edgy and forward-thinking,” Ferraracio says, noting this season also marks the debut of her vegan handbag collection.
Olsenhaus designer Elizabeth Olsen doesn’t go overboard with the hardware on this opened-up style, but her judicious application of pyramid studs, chains and grommets still packs a punch—especially on top of a tomato-red faux suede. But that’s not your ordinary fake fabric: Olsen is now making her entire line out of a polyester microfiber made out of—wait for it—old TV screens. The devoted vegan has plenty of other innovative eco-friendly ideas brewing for future collections. “We’re taking it to a whole new level,” she promises.