Cri de Coeur: Cute Fashionable Shoes Ethically Sourced

by JoHarrington

Their name means 'cry from the heart'. Their Eco-friendly fashion shoes have been featured in the pages of Marie Claire and Vogue. Check them out!

New York fashionistas Gina Ferraraccio and Julie Dicterow despaired of ever finding the right shoes.

Animal lovers both, they didn't want any footwear which involved cruelty or death. That was leather and suede out for a start. Nor did they wish to purchase anything made in a sweat shop. So that was 99.9% of all main street brands out too.

All the vegan-friendly footwear around seemed chunky and unfashionable. The sort of stuff worn by hippies. Julie and Gina looked for shoes that were cute, and when they didn't find them, they created their own company.

New York Fashion Alumni Change the World with Footwear

Gina and Julie had two passions in life - looking amazing and animal rights. Unfortunately those things rarely go together when it comes to shoes.

Image: Cri de CoeurTop showbiz stars are queuing up to wear Cri de Coeur's ethical brand of footwear.

Academy Award winning actress Anne Hathaway is one of them.  The eponymous 'Bones' Brennan - Emily Deschanel is another. Lake Bell and Ellie Fanning have joined the ranks.

As did Alicia Silverstone, but we expected that given her history, campaigning for animal rights and care for the environment in between film takes.

They are just a handful of the celebrities, who grace the Greenwich Village Eco-friendly footwear duo with their custom.

It's not at all bad for two students, who whiled away their classes at Parson's New School of Design, wondering what fashion had to offer them. Because nothing in the curriculum was screaming 'wear me!' to two girls who wanted no cruelty in the world.

Gina Ferraraccio and Julie Dicterow graduated with degrees in fashion design, and the conviction that there was nothing currently on offer in shoe shops for them. They decided there and then to do something about it.

A range of shoes - from the reasonably priced to the downright exclusive - which were ethically produced from start to finish.

Eco-Friendly Sandals by Cri de Coeur

Animal Cruelty in Fashionable Shoe-Wear

Cri de Coeur didn't see why they had to put their intelligence on hold, merely to wear fabulous footwear and look great for a night on the town. Most do just that.

Image: CalfThere has long been a disconnect between fashion and conscience. 

People will gush that they are animal lovers, while wearing a leather jacket and shoes, and clutching a suede handbag. What they really mean is that their lapdog is such a sweetie-pie.

(This happened to me. She even had a gilded rabbit's foot for luck dangling from said purse, and she was in the queue to buy a hamburger.)

Fur was dragged kicking and screaming from the catwalk in the 1970s. But it's still a multimillion pound industry. Many other materials,  fatal to the animal that grew it, still abound. Suede and leather are the most obvious examples.

Leather for shoe-wear has to be soft and pliable, in order to fashion into shape, yet not pinch when worn. There's a long period of applying toxins for that to be the case, and it happens before death. Pigs are often scalded alive (it makes the exfoliation process easier). Ewes are made pregnant, then killed for the touchy-feely fur of their unborn lambs.

That 'new leather smell' - that shoppers breathe in with such delight - is actually formaldehyde and chromium salts reacting with the leather. It's a preservative to stop the skin rotting. You could smell the same in a funeral home.

I could go on, but those who know are already here. I'm preaching to the converted. The rest would rather disengage their brains; happy to rejoice in the prettiness of their footwear, as long as their shoes are slaughtered somewhere out of sight.

Neither Gina nor Julie could do that. Their 'cry from the heat' was founded so they didn't have to.

Materials in Cri de Coeur's Vegan Friendly Footwear

New York's Cri de Coeur do use an ultra-suede material to make their shoes. But it's not torn from the hide of a calf.

Their ultra-suede is created out of recycled plastics and Eco-PU. That might sound hot and sweaty to wear, but it actually creates a product that allows your feet to breathe.

The fashion firm also utilize reclaimed wood, organic cotton and hemp to craft their comfortable, cruelty-free footwear.

Low-VOC (harmful toxins) and biodegradable materials underline their ethos.

Cri de Coeur Carmen Platform

Cri de Coeur's Cruelty-Free Shoes

Sweat Shops and Slavery in the Shoe Industry

There are more slaves in the world today than when Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. A great many of them are worked in the fashion industry.

Image: Nike Anti-Slavery PosterThe man couldn't walk anymore. That's what sticks in my mind.

He'd been sold as a child into slavery. His new master had manacled his leg to an iron ring alongside a sewing machine.

Never once, in all those years, had he shifted from that small space. Making clothing and shoes for the West. Whatever contracts came in.

As he'd grown, the manacle had not been changed. When they found him, it was embedded into his ankle. But on the bright side, downtown shoppers in the USA got cheap shoes!

That image, shown as a presentation in the LeftField of the Glastonbury Festival, was my introduction to the world of sweat shops and slavery in the fashion industry. The dark underside that ensures Westerners can grab a good deal. The costs are paid elsewhere.

There is a reason that they're called sweat shops. They're hot and stuffy; deafening with the din of so many machines running at the same time. The people inside sit for long hours without a break. Often with overtime suddenly landed upon them, enforced by men at the doors with guns.

Stopping for a toilet break, or to grab a drink, is rarely permissible. These workers have quotas which, if not met, can result in beatings or the docking of a whole day's pay.

They don't even earn the minimum wage in their countries. The big Western corporations petitioned their governments for an exemption. They got it too. It's amazing how much legislation can be overlooked with the right kind of handshake.

As a rule though, big companies like that don't establish factories in countries with any kind of labor laws. They move out when such laws are passed.

There could be children at those machines. Working twelve hours as standard, half a shift more if the manager decides so on a whim. Verbal, sexual and physical abuse is endemic. They may be turning over two or three pieces a minute for between 20c and 80c an hour.

Non-Sweat Shop Footwear at Cri de Coeur

Cri de Coeur didn't think that those savings were worth the blood, sweat and tears.

They ensure their shoes are ethically manufactured, and that the workers are afforded fair treatment.

In addition, the fashionistas only deal with factories with a good environmental record. The women check for themselves that Earth-friendly substances and materials are used throughout.

It's a damning testimony to other shoe-wear companies that Cri de Coeur's prices are still affordable. How much profit must those corporations make, who exploit their labor force?

Cri de Coeur Lovely Bootie

Vegan Friendly, Ethical Boots by Cri de Coeur

Updated: 03/16/2014, JoHarrington
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


JoHarrington on 03/11/2014

Yes, those black boots are cute. :)

JoHarrington on 03/11/2014

Flight of the Conchords are hilarious! Thanks for that. :)

And horrifically right even with the comedy.

Ember on 03/11/2014

Also, I like those black boots at the bottom there.

Ember on 03/11/2014

Relevant... (ok skipping directly to the relevant part, but the whole song is worth listening to).

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