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INTERVIEW WITH WILL GREEN OF WILLS
ANIMAL AND HUMAN FRIENDLY VEGAN SHOES
Ever heard of vegan shoes? Nope us neither, actually we didn't know there was a market for this type of shoe at all. Will Green set up this footwear brand with a passion to provide animal and human friendly shoes with high-street styles and prices.
He had a dream to bridge the gap between everyday people and ethically produced vegan shoes, while not hurting animals or people in the process.
We must admit after looking at the collection, there are certainly many styles we would choose to wear, but what about the vegan part... what’s it all about? We sit down with Mr Green to get educated on this.
What inspired you to set up the company and what were your major challenges?
"I started Wills with a passion to provide animal and human friendly shoes with high-street styles and prices. Wills are for anyone who wants to make a positive choice in their lives and world around them. The major challenge was to get the right materials and factories to work with. The result is a pair of Wills which look, feel and wear the same as a good pair of leather shoes – so there is no compromise."
What's the difference between standard shoes and vegan shoes?
"The main difference is the upper. A vegan shoe does not use any materials that are derived from an animal. A standard pair of shoes uses leather or suede for the upper. A good vegan shoe swaps this with microfiber. Microfiber is a man-made material comprised from a very fine mesh of individual fibres woven into a tight mesh. The high quality Italian microfiber I use has the same look and feel of leather or suede – you will not notice the difference. Wills are water resistant, breathable and because the uppers are made from a weave – they have “give” so your shoe will adjust to your foot shape and gait."
Does it cost more to make shoes this way?
"It depends on who is making the shoe and why. You can already buy cheap vegan shoes on the high street that do not use leather – swapping it with poor quality PVC or PU materials just to hit a low price point. A beautiful, well-made vegan shoe should cost about the same as a leather shoe of the same quality. However because my convictions extend beyond the materials I use - my shoes can cost more to make than a standard shoe. I do not want anything to be harmed for the sake of my shoes - therefore I only use vegan materials and make Wills in well-run factories in Portugal – where people work in good, safe conditions and earn fair wages. I also want my shoes to be well made and look after your feet. Your feet are so important. A cheap pair of shoes that are poorly made can do real damage and are a false economy in the long term – you just end up buying more shoes instead of one good pair – wasting money and increasing your consumption."
Why should people care about vegan shoes?
Leather is not a by-product it is a profit centre for the farming industry. The majority of leather comes from China and India, countries with poor environmental and workplace standards. Animals endure all the horrors of factory farming for the sake of their skins which are then treated with highly toxic chemicals to turn them into leather. To add to this – who made your shoes? Did they have workers rights? Were they even safe? Post Rana Plaza we are switching on to the realities behind a cheap price point and their accountability in the whole system. I guess we just need to honestly ask ourselves – is it acceptable for animals and people to suffer for the sake of our feet?"
If we could buy one pair of shoes, which should it be?
"My Work Boots in chestnut. They are one of those boots that just becomes a part of you - something you always want to put on. They are made with burnished Italian microfiber that has such a nice texture and lustre. I have worn my pair for 9 months now and love the way they have improved with age – they have real character."