Please upgrade your browser for the best Refinery29 experience. Read more.
Let's face it: Vegan shoes are a tricky subject. And while lots of vegan companies use their non-leather stance as a catchall for ecological and ethical responsibility, it's often not the case (what, with harmful chemicals and unfit labor conditions causing a slew of other problems). Nicora Johns, a rad startup out of L.A. is looking to change all that. Last month, founder Stephanie Fryslie turned to Kickstarter with one mission in mind: to change the game of how shoes are made.
These kicks are cut from a different cloth. Literally. While vegan isn’t always eco, Fryslie points out, “Eco always has to be vegan.” Of the Massachusetts-based factories from where she sources her materials, she beams, “They produce amazing synthetic leathers. They’re soft, supple, and improve with wear.” Additionally, shoes are assembled in California by women and men trained in the trade. “To give former shoemakers a comfortable life, we need to rebuild locally,” Fryslie says. The U.S. is also the best place to leave the lightest footprint. “Countless chemicals go into footwear,” Fryslie laments. “And the majority of shoes are manufactured abroad, in places with weak environmental — as well as labor — regulations.”
If domestically made, sustainable shoes resonate with you, check out the debut collection on Fryslie's' Kickstarter. Nicora Johns sandals, heels, flats, and boots are cute, customizable, comfortable, and reasonably affordable to the savvy and sartorially minded gal. With a couple days left to back the crowd-funding campaign, consider fronting some cash soon, otherwise your dream shoes will stay just that — a dream.