Vegan shoes: the decidedly non-definitive buyer's guide

There's a grassroots movement in my comments on science fiction interested in a post on vegan shoes. This post is for vegans, please; it is not for people who want to tell us we're moralistic prigs who are going to die young from some horrible vitamin deficiency.

Anyway, I've had very good luck at Target. Cheap shoes, with their pleather uppers and synthetic soles, are the vegan's friend. I walked out of there a month ago with three pairs of shoes for $40, all of which have attracted favorable compliments from strangers. You have to be careful, however; not all of their shoes are faux leather. The box should say; if not, the internet has full descriptions of which shoes contain leather.

A lot of upscale places are selling canvas shoes right now. Don't get too carried away by a nice-looking upper; a lot of them have leather soles. On the other hand, a lot of them have wood, plastic, rubber or rattan soles, and they're hella handsome. Canvas takes a little care--don't forget to scotch-guard--but it looks awfully summery, and it's cool and comfortable. Espadrilles are the old standard, but I'm currently in the market for a pair of linen peep-toe flats, which I'm seeing all over--so far, unfortunately, all with leather soles.

I haven't attempted to order vegan shoes over the internet yet, though I may be reduced to it; right now I'm still working my way through my back stock of leather shoes, even though every once in a while I have a creepy re-realization that I'm wearing an animal's skin wrapped around my feet (something that I felt was creepy before I became a vegan, before I am accused of moralizing). The problem with internet shoes is that some vegan shoes are quite uncomfortable, and you really want to make sure you're a good fit. Plus if you're like me, you never really know whether you need a nine or a ten until you try them on.

However, if you get to New York (I know at least one of the discussants does), stop in at Moo Shoes, which has some decent looking shoes at reasonable (at least for New York) prices; once you've bought there and get a feel for their sizing, it may be okay to buy some through mail order.

If you are willing to drop A LOT of money on vegan shoes, Stella McCartney makes beautiful shoes, though the collection is very small. And Natalie Portman has a gorgeous collection with Te Casan. If you buy all your other shoes at Target, perhaps you can afford a pair or two of these a year. They all seem to be selling quite well, so presumably there will be a second collection.

Handbags are actually much harder; if you find something that's not leather (hell, if you can find something that will actually tell you whether or not it's leather), and looks decent, buy multiples. Summer's all right, but come fall, you're going to look a little odd with that canvas or straw bag.