Friday, October 31, 2008

Design Your Own Vegan Keds

Remember Keds . . . from the eighties . . . ? Made from cotton canvas and some sort of synthetic rubber sole, they are vegan . . . and now customizable! Really, really customizable. See this link for full details. There are three different "canvases," meaning shoe styles, and over a dozen colors and patterns to choose from. The color of the stitching even is customizable. Best of all, you can upload your own images (and then crop and move) and/or write your own text. A customized pair of sneakers costs $60.

I already designed my perfect pair and now am saving up (and possibly waiting until after the snow that hasn't started falling melts) to get them. My design is based on the first edition Hogarth Press book cover of Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway painted by Virginia Woolf's sister, Vanessa Bell.

My Friend Is Famous!

The Professional Vegan is taking a quick break from vegan fashion, clothing and accessories to highlight a seriously awesome summer "externship." Sarah McLanahan, my friend from college, now a graduate student, spent part of her summer vacation in Peru helping (and holding) orphaned babies. The Sun Chronicle -- the local newspaper of her hometown -- reported on her adventures recently.

The graduate student spent nearly a month of her vacation
time this summer volunteering at an orphanage in Peru, working for Mosoq Ayllu, a nonprofit organization based in Huancayo in the Peruvian highlands, about seven hours outside of Lima. She was matched with a family-run orphanage, where she worked helping to care for babies.

"I want to travel the world saving babies," McLanahan said. "I don't know how I'm going to work that into a career, yet. I might work with families wanting to adopt so I can counsel them and work on helping them to connect with the babies."

Read the entire article here.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Neiman Marcus 3-Day Sale -- Burberry Coats

Neiman Marcus is having an awesome 3-day sale, ending Sunday, Nov 2 at 6pm CST. Among other items, a large portion of Burberry outwear is 40% off! Some of these items are vegan, such as this tailored version of Burberry's classic quilted micro-fiber jacket (pictured right). It comes in black, chestnut and birch, and is entirely polyester. Originally $550; now $330. I also enjoy this black long trench coat (pictured left). It also is entirely polyester. Originally $895; now $540. It is similar to this rain coat, which is slightly shorter, also entirely polyester, and $60 less after the 40% off.

Vegan Jacket On Sale

Via Corporette -- which predominately features non-vegan clothing, but posted this Antonio Melani "Reardon" jacket yesterday, which is on sale at Dillards. It is a cotton/polyester/spandex blend. I love the "seaweed" double pinstripes and the removable belt. Originally $199.00, Dillards has it on sale for $83.58, and it is available in sizes 0, 2, 6, 8, and 14.

The matching pants are also on sale, but only are available in a size 0. They were originally $129.00, and are now $54.18.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It's Cold; Time For Boots

I have lived in the Northeast my whole life. I grew up in Connecticut, went to undergrad in New York City, then worked for a bit in New York City, and went to law school in Massachusetts. I still am located on the East Coast. Accordingly, I own three pairs of cold-winter-weather boots: (1) black leather and suede thick sole UGGs (similar to this); (2) a take on the classic tall UGGs (the original version of this); and (3) the original version of the black Coach snow boot from three seasons ago that is vaguely similar to this, although about twice as tall with a less sturdy sole and a 3" heel (like this one).

Like the first linked Coach boot, I am pretty sure that mine incorporates real rabbit fur; eeek; forgive me, I have changed. Anyhow, the less sturdy rubber sole of the Coach boot is completely worn down, making it essentially unwearable in the snow (not that it was ever that amazing in the snow) and un-sturdy most other times as well. I already meant to replace it this season. The pair of black UGGs, which has survived five winters, is on its last bit of sole as well. I also already meant to replace it this season. The other pair of UGGs is in good shape and will remain part of my wardrobe.

Pre-vegan, I would have replaced the Coach boots with these UGGs (pictured left). I love that it is different than most other UGGs, yet still a tall, warm boot. But it has dead cow (suede) heel guard, is lined with sheepskin, and is knit with a wool blend. Ouch. So, I found a similar version that uses no animal products . . . and bought it. It's made by Union Bay (pictured right) -- and is half the price. The boots are super cozy, although possibly not as fuzzy or warm as the UGGs, but warm enough; and I am willing to give up some fuzz for the animals. I'm also not thrilled that the toe isn't as reinforced as the UGGs, but if I want to remain a vegan, I must take what I can get.

Now all I need to find is a pair of vegan boots that can replace my super-sturdy, snow-mounting, puddle-smacking, ultra-waterproof, long-lasting black UGGs. That might take a bit more time.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Going Fur-Free

As reported yesterday via The Discerning Brute, Henri Bendel has gone fur-free. Henri Bendel is a mainstay of the NYC upscale department store scene (they have been open for 114 years) and competes with Saks, Bergdorf Goodman, Barney's and Bloomingdale's, none of which have adopted a fur-free policy. In going fur-free, Henri Bendel joins the ranks of designers such as Betsey Johnson, Cole Haan (as of fall 2008), Kenneth Cole, and Stella McCartney, and stores such as Anthropologie, Banana Republic, and J. Crew.

Similarly, Juicy Couture recently announced that it plans to go fur-free by 2009. You can thank them here.

Completely, Entirely, Totally Vegan Handbag Designers

In my quest to find a vegan handbag, I stumbled across a handful of entirely vegan designers of handbags and other accessories. Here are my favorite three:

1) Vegan Queen, launched in 2007 by designer Evelina (a former model and vegan devotee), makes eco-conscious high-end designer handbags using only natural, organic, non-toxic, and recycled material. The bags range from $300 - $900 and are made in the United States. My favorites are the Boston Bag (pictured left) and the Eco Tote.

2) Matt & Nat, headquartered in Montreal, makes a line of very popular (and gorgeous) vegan handbags and shoes. The bags range from $200 - $300 and wallets range from $75 - $100. Once my funds replenish, I want this wallet (pictured right).

3) olsenHaus, under the direction of designer Elizabeth Haus, also makes purely vegan accessories. Its website emphasizes its line of shoes, but it also has a line of vegan handbags.

I also was impressed by NYArtificial, billed at the "first alternative handbag and accessory stores in New York City," which seems to carry only vegan handbags and accessories, and Chinese Laundry, which, likewise, seems to sell only vegan handbags.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The First Purchase: Hobo Handbag

Pre-vegan, I carried a medium-sized black leather handbag from Cole Haan as my everyday work handbag. Cole Haan doesn't make anything exactly like it anymore, but it looks a bit like this crossed with this. It is big enough to hold an 8x11 folder, a couple books, and my pumps if necessary.

I've wanted to replace it since I became a vegan because, put simply, it is a huge hunk of leather. A very nice hunk of leather, but nevertheless, lots and lots of leather. But, every comparable handbag I considered contained at least some leather. As far as I can tell, Cole Haan doesn't make a single acceptable handbag that doesn't incorporate leather; neither does Coach, Tumi, Furla, kate spade, Burberry, Tory Burch . . . even Longchamp's signature Le Pilage collection has leather handles and a leather flap. I browsed Nordstrom, Saks, and Bloomingdale's stores and websites. The only vaguely acceptable alternatives I found were a few Le Sportsacs and Vera Bradleys, none of which I was willing to part with my Cole Haan for.

I thought my search was in vain until I wandered into Kohl's with friends this weekend. Last September, Kohl's launched Vera Wang's new collection, "Simply Vera." I love Vera Wang--especially the dresses, of course--but I was skeptical when my friends reminded me that Kohl's carries "Simply Vera."

Yet, I found the perfect handbag, which is part of the "Simply Vera" collection . . . and bought it. I chose the chocolate faux patent leather, which looks very nice and has a cranberry tint to it. With its cranberry tint, the bag goes well with black, brown, navy, and gray suits, while adding a touch of fall color. Similar to my Cole Haan, it is large enough to hold an 8x11 folder, a couple books, and my pumps. There is an inner zipper compartment and two large inner pockets. The zipper closure is smooth, and the bag maintains its shape even when unzipped. And it is not made from leather or any other animal-based products. Even better, it was 45% off . . . only $48.95.

In fact, I was tempted by this slightly larger bag too, but resisted.

So, now I own my first replacement item, and now a woman at Dress For Success will have a lovely leather handbag to bring to interviews.