I have two pairs of classic 8-eye Dr, Martin boots. One in black (seen in the image) and one in cherry red with no laces because I once needed them for my safety shoes to go into the workshop and never remembered to but them back in. They have been become an archetype in my minimalist wardrobe. As they are two of the, maybe five pairs of shoes I currently own, I make every outfit work with them or only seem to by clothes that suit that aesthetic. In some ways my Docs make up a lot of my image. This is why recently it has been more and more difficult detaching my emotion from my ethics, and why, in fact, I couldn't do it anymore.
For those who don't know I haven't eaten meat since I was around 6 or 7 and went full blown vegetarian at age 10. It wasn't until 10 years later at age 20 I turned vegan and questioned whether even I was truly vegetarian. I wouldn't double and trip check products to make sure they were cruelty-free, I would wear animal by-products and even sometimes buy 'barn eggs' if I couldn't get the 'happy' ones in the yellow box and I thought that buying leather Docs would be fine because they would last me a lifetime. I got this particular black pair around 19 or 20 and my first ever Docs at age 17. Five years seems a pretty sort and sad lifetime. Although they may 'last forever' from a utilitarian standpoint, it wasn't from an emotional one.
I decided I needed to purchase a vegan-friendly pair of shoes to replace my Docs, as hard as it was. I had a visceral connection to them but the rationale told me it was not right wearing them anymore with my new ethical belief system.
If you have ever tried to find vegan shoes on the high street you will know how hard it is. It's not only the main material but smaller factors like the sole and glue that could be animal-derived. I remember frustratingly Googling in Schuh trying to find something that would fit both my ethics and budget - which is never a great combination. I found one pair that were men's, only came in a size six and, oh yeah, all sold out. I was almost relieved in a way because I didn't think they reflected my look as the Docs had. This is when I considered the other option: vegan Dr Martin's. I can almost hear you screaming 'well that seems the obvious option! Buy them, buy them now!' but we have to consider some factors that came to mind:
And finally - do I still want to suit Dr Martins? The answer is: yes. A brand that have became iconic and famous for leather shoes introducing a vegan line is impressive and should be amended. In the famous words of Bob Dylan 'the times they are a-changin' and if more brands who already have their name out their, with a huge influence on so many individuals style and aesthetic, are willing to introduce more ethical, vegan ranges into their stores I will fully support this change. I am not a fan of the all or nothing approach and believe all successful change is transitional. I feel happy that I can still enjoy the aesthetic and feel of a shoe I have worn almost everyday for last three years, and see less and less hypocrisy in my life as my vegan transition continues. I will have to wait until next time for a replica to my class 8 eye blacks because, incredibly they had completely sold out of the vegan variety. Incredible.
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