Rebecca Mink, a successful celebrity stylist committed to humane treatment of animals and environmental causes had an eco-entrepreneurial epiphany in 2000. She could dress her clients in animal-free styles down to their feet, but there were no high-fashion, vegan, non-toxic, eco-friendly shoes to be found. So this soft-spoken beauty with a will of steel went straight to the source of the best-made shoes in the world: Italy. With a quiet determination to change an industry and show the world another way, Mink Shoes was born.
Sixteen high-end shoe factories turned her down before she found Marco Gambassi, a 4th generation shoemaker whose family factory made shoes for some of the best known luxury brands in the world. Finally, in 2004, her own line of sexy, vegan shoes (no, it’s not an oxymoron) was born!
Fashion will only go in the direction of being more eco-friendly and more sustainable.
Rebecca refuses to compromise on final product or manufacturing processes. The result is high-style, high-fashion shoes impeccably made without the use of any animal materials. These beautiful shoes are made entirely from sustainable resources, such as wood, rubber, cork and organic fabrics. Her refusal to compromise on style or quality has actually led to innovating superior alternatives to animal products, like a rubber-based glue that outlasts and out performs the animal-based glues used for generations.
Another innovation was a high performance organic lining that breathes and bonds to the looser weave eco-fabrics, preventing them from stretching out and ruining the fit. Her activism and innovations have changed how her high-end shoe factories operate and now bigger name designers are following in her footsteps.
It’s been a long uphill battle trying to convince retail chain buyers to stock her shoes, which are currently available at specialty boutiques, online at Mink Shoes and at Zappos. Rebecca asserts most women will choose an eco-friendly shoe if there’s a well-fitting, well-made high-fashion option.
Advice to Consumers
Connect with how your apparel is made, and realize that whatever is touching your skin and nerve endings is entering your body. In the example of leather shoes, since leather is a naturally biodegradable skin from an animal, treatment processes using multiple toxic chemicals and heavy metals are required to keep it from breaking down. These chemicals come in contact with your skin.
Tell store managers that you want eco-fashion options. Ask questions about how your clothes are manufactured. Demand that brands provide transparent information about their manufacturing processes.
Courtesy of Creatrix Interactive