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Vegan VS. Synthetic Materials- which one wins?

By Tammy K.

One common question that we receive is "are your shoes vegan"? Vegan products are highly sought after because they are made up of plant based or synthetic materials rather than animal products.

Currently none of our shoes fall into the vegan category, but creating a 100% vegan shoe has been a goal of ours since the very beginning.

Our first generation shoes featured a rubber toe box. Once we realized that when heated (or left out in the sun) the toe box would lose it's shape, we started to experiment with other synthetic materials. After countless failed attempts to find a synthetic material that would meet our high quality standards, we discovered that leather was the only way to go.

If we were going to use leather, though, it couldn't just be any leather from overseas. We began the search for responsibly sourced hides here in the USA, and we eventually found a well respected tannery in Wisconsin that offered the high quality leather that we were looking for. Here's a fun fact- at one point, we considered using fish leather for our shoes! Fish skin is usually discarded, so some would argue that it has a minimal impact on the environment. Our staff had mixed feelings about the fashion statement we'd be making with fish leather shoes while out running in the Rocky Mountains. We ultimately decided that no matter what color you dye fish leather, it still looks like fish leather!

Fish leather is one material that we could use for our shoes.

Photo: Etsy.com

While on the topic of responsibly sourced leather, we've noted that there is also an argument stating that synthetic materials may be more harmful for the environment than using natural, animal derived products. Synthetic materials are often associated with the use of petroleum and other fossil fuels. It is also widely known that synthetic fabric fibers pollute our oceans and are difficult and costly to remove.

What is your take on the vegan/natural/synthetic debate? Do you have any ideas for locally sourced materials that would be a good fit for us? We want to what is important to you. Please leave your comments below or send an email to som-team@som-footwear.com.

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