Does the most iconic shoe, need the real deal, or can it switch to faux?
It was called ‘Louboutin: The world’s most luxurious shoe’. Very aptly named as these highly coveted shoes will set you back around £400+ taking a hefty chunk out of your wage. But all designers charge extravagant prices, right? After all, it’s a ‘want what you can’t have’ scenario – we crave the shoes because of their unreadable price and their iconic status (or at least I do, I’m a shoe addict!).
The other night I tuned on the show and I was faced with a humbling reality – I am a moron. It’s true, the girl who thinks she knows it all had a moment of “Oh fuck, they use real leather, real Python and crocodile skin”. How stupid and naive must I be to not realize that such a highly priced shoe wasn’t made from the real deal? Or perhaps I knew all along and was ignoring it – ignorance is bliss after all.
I’m passionate about animal rights, always have been, but I have found myself pushing it aside when it comes to certain kinds of fashion (I’m also passionate about all things fashion). This is admittedly, very hypocritical of me, I’m outraged every time I see a video of an animal being treated badly for fun, sport, food and fashion, but I was ignoring this fact when admiring Louboutin shoes.
Christian Lounoutin has single handedly created an empire with his incredible talent at making shoes that give a case of serious shoe envy. His shoes are worn by celebrities all over the world – many having closets dedicated to their ‘Louboutin Collections’ – and of course whatever pop culture is wearing, we want too. I pride myself on purchasing cruelty free fashion, but I’ve long wanted a pair of those iconic red sole shoes, their a fashion statement, an economical statement, but they’re also a cruelty statement, and I can’t be onboard with that.
My ignorance about the fact Mr Louboutin uses real leather, crocodile and python skin in his creations was flaunted in my face last, as during the show there was a scene where Louboutin was adding detail to a tan leather boot; he grabbed a craft knife and set out a gorgeous piece of colourful purple python skin and began cutting off pieces to wrap around the boot. This is where it hit me. It wasn’t fabric that Mr Louboutin was cutting up, it was skin, an animal’s skin, and he cut the skin in such away that he didn’t question what was before him. For me, I have an innate sensation of guilt that comes at me every time I handle something that’s been obtained from cruelty. Does Mr Louboutin not have this sense, or does he simply not know or not care how the python skin is obtained, so long as it’s genuine?
There’s no denying that pythons have the most stunning natural patterns, prints and colours, and to use that as inspiration praises our love of animals. However, in this modern day and age, we can easily replicate the python’s skin without any cruelty involved. We no longer need to kill animals for clothes, this isn’t 100 million years bc and we don’t need to skin animals to cover out modesty.
Decades ago, genuine animal fur and skin was seen as a status of wealth. Having the genuine fur coat, the genuine fur trim, meant you were in a certain class, you were wealthy, you didn’t have to exclaim your wealth as your fashion did it for you. But again, we’ve moved on, there are no means to highlighting your wealth, like donating to charity, or purchasing from animal friendly fashion houses.
Look at Stella McCartney – she’s an icon in more ways than one, and she’s built a multi-award winning and multi-million fashion empire, while managing to be completely cruelty free. If its so easy for Ms McCartney to maintain a wealthy fashion house without harming any animals in the process, why aren’t so many other designers following pursuit? Does it really matter if the skin/fur is real? Are they worried that people would demand the real deal and refuse to buy their products? If that were the case, why do so many people buy replicas? Why can’t designers see that we don’t need the real deal on our shoes, our clothes or our accessories, we’re more than happy to settle with fake.
And really, aesthetically, who can tell the difference?
One of these images is Stella McCartney and the other Louis Vuitton, take a guess…
Can you tell the difference? Visually, the fabrics have no difference, but how they’re obtained is completely different. We’re no stranger to the cruel and barbaric way fur, python and crocodile skin are obtained, but once they reach the designers, their missing the animals corpse and so to the designers it’s ‘out of sight, out of mind’.
I’m glad I faced up to my own ignorance last night. Perhaps the image of Mr Louboutin shredding Python skin affected other fashion and animal lovers. Perhaps they’ll be vocal and express their disgust. We can only hope for a future where it becomes universally illegal to use any genuine animal fur or skin, but until then, hand me the fake!