[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his autumn, fashion design students – and anyone else who’s ever dreamed of following in Stella McCartney’s footsteps – can get a jump start on their design careers, thanks to a new contest launched by PETA and London born vegan shoe company Beyond Skin. The competition offers aspiring fashion designers the chance to be the creative force behind a new animal-free shoe. Entrants can upload their designs to PETA until December 13, when PETA and Beyond Skin will narrow the entries down to the top 10. MTV presenter and vegan Laura Whitmore will choose the winning design, which will go into production and hit the market in time for spring/summer 2014.
“I truly believe that the future of fashion lies in sustainable, cruelty-free materials, and companies like Beyond Skin and organisations like PETA are leading the way in creating awareness”, says Whitmore. “I am simply looking for ambitious young designers to put their best vegan foot forward and show me their idea for a new cruelty-free pump, flat, bootie or wedge. This competition is their chance to be a part of the trend towards compassionate fashion.”
More and more designers and retailers – including Stella McCartney, Vivienne Westwood, Topshop and H&M – are recognising the huge demand for animal-friendly fashions and offering their customers shoes, bags, purses and belts made from modern, high-quality synthetics which don’t cost the Earth or harm a hair on an animal’s head. Beyond Skin is committed to helping animals and the environment by using only animal-free, recyclable materials in its products. Millions of cows and other animals whose skin is turned into leather endure the horrors of factory farming, including extreme crowding and confinement, disease and deprivation of food and water. Branding, tail-docking, dehorning and castration are all often performed without any painkillers. At abattoirs, improper stunning means that many animals are skinned while they’re still conscious.
Why vegan shoes?
Turning animal skin into leather requires highly toxic mineral salts, formaldehyde, coal-tar derivatives and various oils, dyes and finishes – some of which are cyanide-based. Tannery runoff contains large amounts of pollutants, such as salt, lime sludge, sulphides and acids. Animals on factory farms produce 130 times as much excrement as the entire human population – without the benefit of waste-treatment plants.