Pineapple leather for your shoes

Bourgeois Boheme was created in 2005 by Alicia Lai, a podiatrist whom couldn’t find any quality and stylish vegan accessories and footwear on the market at that time. She began selling online vegan accessories and footwear based on her ethics as a vegan that no animals should be harmed for anything, not even fashion. She had a sabbatical for two years to spend time with her two young children and re-launched Bourgeois Boheme in 2014 as an exclusively vegan footwear brand. It was a desire to show that there was a better way to produce fashion for the environment, factory workers and animals. 

Where are the shoes made? And which material do you use?
Our shoes are ethically made by two factories in Portugal which I visit two to three times a year. Our shoes are crafted without any animal-derived materials such as fur, leather, wool, silk and animal-based glues. There’s absolutely no PVC either. We use apple leather and also pineapple leather, recycled suede, natural cork, and slate stone. The materials we use play a key role in our responsibility and creativity as a footwear brand and are a bonus style factor. All our shoes are lined with bio-polyols based on natural and renewable resources derived from non-food cereal crops. These plant-based polymers, grains and seeds have exquisite properties and are superior to leather. They are absorbable, breathable, and biodegradable. This results in sophisticated, innovative collections that are long-lasting, super-comfortable, waterproof, and animal- and eco-friendly.

Isn’t it hard to start a shoe company that doesn’t use leather?
Indeed, starting any business has its challenges and we make our lives very hard here as we aim high with our strict criteria regarding ethical production, sustainability, non-animal based materials and great quality. Finding factories to work with us with non-leather materials was a mission. Any partner we work with must understand our company ethos. We sampled with many factories before we chose our final two  partners. Working with faux leather is very different to leather and we then throw into the equation piñatex, cork, eco-stone, and other innovative materials which need extra attention and handling.

Why should more companies look into different materials than leather for shoes?Leather used for fashion unfortunately is not very natural and far from being a by-product of the food industry. Toxic chemicals such as zinc, lead, dyes, cyanide and formaldehyde are used to treat it which makes it decompose very slowly which is bad for the environment. 

Where does your love for animals come from?
My family has always had a love for animals and growing up we always had a pet of some sort. At one time I had 10! I became vegetarian when I was studying and vegan in 2005 due to the realities of the cruelty of the dairy and egg industries. There is absolutely no need to exploit animals for human use and I together with my family, my two girls being vegan from birth, live a happy, fulfilled and healthy plant based lifestyle!

What are your future plans?
We are always trying to make our ranges as sustainable as possible with extensive research in eco-friendlier materials which will differentiate our collections. As an exclusive sneak peek, we can reveal that we are sampling apple leather for our future collections and re-gigging to offer more urban and casual styles! Exciting times!

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