10 Questions For Allkind
All Images: Allkind
Introducing Allkind, the vegan footwear brand bringing you timeless classics, without the compromise. We asked founders Hayley and Kate 10 Questions about making vegan shoes eco friendly and launching a business during a pandemic.
Do you struggle to find elevated but classy vegan leather shoes to suit your classical style? Kate Barrett and Hayley McCardle were right there with you. That was until they created Allkind. Both have a passion for the environment, meaning that meat derived products are simply not an option. And that includes their footwear. However while it’s easy to find fake leather shoes, it’s not so easy to find ones that are fully vegan. (The glue used in the process is usually animal derived and leather soles are also sometimes used.) However at Allkind, you can rest assured that everything has been considered to the enth degree.
Allkind uses a mix of bio based faux leather and recycled materials to create their shoes. Kate and Hayley worked hard to find the best eco friendly vegan materials, as well as a factory that shared their values. While it’s unfortunately not possible to produce in the UK at the moment, the brand work to minimise their carbon footprint in other ways. They are committed to being carbon neutral and are working closely with PETA and The Rainforest Trust. All of this achieved in less than nine months of launching during a global pandemic and subsequent lock down. Kate and Hayley are clearly driven, and it shows. We think you’ll be seeing a lot more of Allkind.
The Vendeur: What led you both to start a vegan shoe brand?
Kate Barrett: I have been a strict vegan for many years and had long struggled to find luxury vegan footwear which matched up to the luxury brands I had previously purchased. Hayley and I were chatting one day and she had the same problem. Stemming from her views on sustainability and high animal welfare, she had been searching for vegan footwear that met this criteria. She too had realised the choices were very limited. This gave rise to the initial idea to develop Allkind.
TV: What does Allkind do that other vegan brands don’t?
Hayley McCardle : Our main goal for the brand was that our shoes were vegan but we wouldn’t compromise on style, fit or quality. The shoes look, feel and act like their leather competitors, however they are 100% vegan. We also knew from the outset that being a sustainable and ethical brand was going to be a huge priority for us.
TV: What led you to explore more sustainable vegan materials than regular PU?
KB: With our main goal in mind, we ended up looking at a vast range of alternative materials. It was important to us to find a balance between the quality of the shoe we were producing and the materials we used. We compromised by using as much recycled material as possible throughout the entire collection. Whether this was recycled rubber, nylon, cotton or PU/PL and focused our searches on the newest vegan materials on the market. Going forwards, we will constantly evolve our collections to add as many sustainable and ethical materials as possible. In particular the beautiful soft brown soles across our shoe and boot styles is made from 100% recycled rubber. The company we found even takes all the offcuts from the cut out and reuses them. This is a zero waste attribute to the shoes that we are really proud of.
TV: Launching during lockdown can’t have been easy, what were the main challenges that you faced?
HM: Our launch collection was delayed by two months and left Spain just as lockdown commenced! Luckily the shoes did make it through the border and to our warehouse, so we went ahead with our launch as planned. As you can imagine we had to modify our business plan and change our original goals. Working from home with my children wasn’t quite what I had envisaged either that’s for sure. It was hard to strike a balance between what was going on in the world and launching Allkind. However it was also a great distraction. A lot of our consumers were at home and spending more time online. We took advantage of this and used the time to promote our launch collection online. Excitingly the brand has really grown since lockdown ended and we’ve had lots of exciting opportunities open up. We have had such a positive response from the fashion press and so much support – it’s been amazing.
TV: There is much more to vegan design than using an alternative to leather, can you take us through the ways in which you have adjusted shoe design to be completely vegan?
HM: We were really lucky to find a factory in Elda, Spain which is a region renowned for hand crafting high quality shoes. The owners and staff are all highly knowledgeable and skilled and were really eager to look into producing more sustainable and ethical shoes. They also had a keen interest in vegan materials. This was great for us as the whole team were passionate about what we were making. Their knowledge helped us source effective vegan alternatives for every aspect of the shoes, including the glues which traditionally contain animal derivatives. The Eco vegan leather and Vegan Suede we use are made from biodegradable plant-based bio-oils. We also use recycled cotton, canvas, and natural rubber. Our packaging is made from recycled and recyclable card and printed using vegetable-based inks. Even our business cards are made from recycled t-shirts! We wanted to approach every aspect of our business with a view to being eco aware.
TV: What made you decide to use recycled materials options for the shoes?
KB: Using recycled materials options was always going to be the approach we wanted to take right from our first discussions. The environmental impact of the fashion world was something we both felt as strongly about as animal cruelty.
TV: The styles in the collection are very elevated, was this a clear direction for you from the start?
KB: Yes, Hayley and I both had the same vision which made developing styles for our core collection very easy. We have similar ideas and tastes but different styles so with this we were easily able to combine 14 styles that became our core collection.
TV: Talk us through your design approach. Will you release seasonal collections like other brands? Or take a slower approach?
KB: We are absolutely committed to producing high-quality, classic designs that will last for many years to come. We do not, and never will, participate in ‘fast throwaway fashion’. Instead our plan is to add designs to our core collection. We offer new and exciting additions for our consumers. However ultimately our goal is to not follow seasonal fashion trends which tend to be discarded quickly. Our shoes are made to be loved and worn for years, regardless of trends.
TV: Were there any styles you weren’t able to create due to your strict vegan, ethical and animal welfare standards?
HM: In the end this wasn’t a problem when designing. We were surprised to find a really good selection of vegan materials from Italy, Spain & Portugal that were excellent replicas for traditional leather. It was great to find that these materials were already being produced to a really high standard. There was also genuine interest from traditional leather shoe producing factories who were keen to enter the vegan market. The factory we work with has a very similar approach to us in that they are keen to ‘make it happen’. They were able to enthusiastically offer and guide us to alternative products confidently.
TV: How are you achieving carbon neutrality?
HM: From day one we knew we wanted to make sure our carbon footprint was as minimal as possible. Ideally, we would have loved to have produced our shoes in the UK. However with the exception of men’s formal shoes and dance shoes we were unable to find any factories to work with just yet. We are always mindful of our impact and we want to use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. We accept that singularly we cannot be the change, but we aim to very much be a part of the global effort. We partnered with Ecologi, who work on rainforest protection, renewable energy and major tree planting programmes. So far this year we have helped plant 252 trees and have helped remove 25 tonnes of C02 from the atmosphere.
Disclaimer: The people and models in the images featured are not associated with The Vendeur and do not endorse it or the products shown. This post may contain affiliate links. Prices correct at time of publishing.
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