The Problem With Leather: Vegan Alternatives to the New K-SWISS SHOES x Harry Potter Collab
Harry Potter merch collabs have been dropping this July like it’s nobody's business. It is, after all, the birth month of everyone’s favorite boy wizard, and Warner Bros. is acting like a Rememberall and making sure we don’t forget.
The latest Potter swag to come careening at us like a rogue bludger are the K-Swiss x Harry Potter sneakers.
These Hypercourt Express 2 shoes are inspired by Harry’s beloved Firebolt and are detailed enough to make even the most stoic Slytherin squee a little bit. There’s a glossy, faux woodgrain sole, silver embellishments that resemble the broom’s footholds, and embroidered golden “Firebolt” lettering on the heel. The shoes arrive in a box with Daily Prophet-inspired tissue paper and come with the chance to win an exclusive prize if the image of an enchanted key is stamped in the box.
But, there’s a dark side to the Quidditch chic shoes: they’re crafted from patent leather and are definitely not vegan.
Thankfully, there are plenty of non-leather, vegan-friendly Potterish shoes for every fan. And, even better, you don’t need to apparate back to Hogwarts’s Room of Requirement to wish them into existence. The muggle internet has a host of Harry Potter shoes that you can get your hands on! But first, let’s take a closer look at that leather.
So what’s the problem with leather? Isn’t it just a by-product of the meat industry anyways? And is it really so bad? It’s time to dispel some myths!
Myth #1: Leather Is Just a By-Product
False! Many of the animals who are slaughtered to create leather aren’t the same animals who are killed for their meat. There are entire factory farms dedicated to raising cows, pigs, goats, sheep, and even exotic animals like ostriches and alligators for their skin. These filthy and abusive factory farms are often located in China and India where animal welfare is non-existent and horrific practices such as breaking cows’ limbs, depriving them of water, and castrating them are the norm.
Myth #2: Leather Is Natural
Nope! Just because leather is derived from animal skin doesn’t mean it’s “natural”.
Before skin becomes leather it undergoes a super-toxic process. Forget a simple swish and flick of a wand. Tanneries use dangerous, often carcinogenic, chemicals that expose tannery workers to potentially deadly substances like formaldehyde, cyanide, lead, and other toxic metal contaminants. The USDA reports that “the air in several tanneries was found to contain a dangerous amount of nitrosamine, a cancer-causing substance” and research from the EPA, CDC, and Blacksmith Institute also suggests that rates of lung, pancreatic, and testicular cancer may be higher in tannery workers than non-tannery workers. There are even concrete numbers to back this up. One CDC study found “leukemia among residents near one tannery in Kentucky was five times the national average.”
Myth #3: Leather Can Be Eco-Friendly
Not at all. Don’t be fooled by any “eco-friendly” claims. The leather industry generates so much hazardous waste that in India 13 million gallons of toxic wastewater pours out of tanneries every single day. This chemical brew seeps into everything around it: farm pastures, rivers, and even drinking water. According to the EPA, factory farming, including the leather industry, is responsible for 70% of water pollution in the US! The Guardian and the documentary Cowspiracy report that animal agriculture, including leather production, generates more greenhouse gases than all of the world’s transportation systems combined.
Myth #4: Leather Is American Made
Think buying that leather jacket is a way to support American jobs? Nope. More and more tanneries and leather factory farms are moving to countries like China, India, and even the Philippines. Kanpur is the top leather producing city in India. Home to over 300 tanneries, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information and the U.S. National Library of Medicine, many of the tannery workers and residents suffer from severe skin rashes, respiratory illnesses, gastrointestinal problems, and ulcers, and have an elevated risk for developing lung cancer. The air and water pollution from these factories also poisons nearby rural communities, even going so far as to turn the Ganges river, a body of water that is considered to be sacred to Hindus and that reaches a population of four hundred million people, black.
The Leather Industry is just as lethal and nefarious as Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters!
But don’t let the muggle’s use of leather get you down! There are so many synthetic alternatives that don’t contribute to the widespread abuse, pollution, and environmental devastation the leather industry creates.
So, metaphorically chuck those leather K-Swiss Harry Potter shoes in the bin, and don some fantastic fashion that isn’t fatal.
We’ve accioed 7 non-leather, vegan-friendly Potterhead shoe alternatives so you can step out in cruelty-free style.
1. Luna Lovegood Spectrespec Hi-Top Sneakers
What would a list of cruelty-free vegan shoes be without quirky and kind Ravenclaw Luna Lovegood? The patron witch of animal activists and vegans (even Irish actress Evanna Lynch who brought Luna to life on the screen is an outspoken vegan and animal rights activist), Luna is a fan favorite who represents some of the very best things about the wizarding world. These canvas and rubber hi-tops are embellished with Luna’s signature Spectrespecs and her famous line, “You’re just as sane as I am.”
2. Herbology Sneakers
Missing the afternoons spent in the sunny Hogwarts greenhouses tending to puffapods and braving screeching mandrakes? Show off your passion for Herbology with these canvas low-tops. These soft cream-colored sneakers, once again made of canvas and rubber, feature some of the most iconic magical plants, like ace Herbologist Neville Longbottom’s beloved Mimbulus Mimbletonia.
3. Hufflepuff Plaid Hi-Tops
You don’t get much more punk rock than bold canary yellow plaid hi-tops! The Hufflepuff House badger mascot is dotted throughout the plaid canvas pattern and a shiny black polyurethane upper finishes off the look. We reckon grunge-queen Auror and Hufflepuff alum Tonks would rock a pair of these.
4. Gryffindor Plaid Hi-Tops
These Gryffindor kicks are really something to roar about. The bold crimson plaid and Gryffindor House lion mascot make for a bold style choice. These cruelty-free canvas hi-tops would make S.P.E.W. founder Hermione Granger proud.
5. Slytherin Plaid Hi-Tops
Ready to make your Potterhead friends green with envy? Show off your Slytherin pride and love for magical and muggle creatures with these leather-free emerald green and black hi-tops made of canvas, polyurethane, and rubber. The Slytherin House serpent mascot is featured in the edgy plaid pattern. Our favorite vegan Slytherin Liz Tuttle would rock these on the daily.
6. Ravenclaw Plaid Hi-Tops
Forget wit beyond measure. These Ravenclaw inspired hi-tops might just be man’s new greatest treasure. The silver, powdery blue, and white plaid canvas emblazoned with Ravenclaw House’s eagle mascot makes these kicks a wise choice for fashion-forward Ravenclaws.
7. Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes Hi-Top Sneakers
Ok, so, we’ll be the first to say that Fred and George Weasley aren’t exactly paragons of wizard-kind when it comes to caring for creatures in the Wizarding World. The mischief-making gingers illegally breed miniature puffskeins to sell in their joke shop, for one. But we have to admit they are innovative, hard-working, and exceptionally creative. These hi-tops feature the Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes’ bold and wacky orange and purple colors and logo and are completely leather-free.
See? It’s not exactly Ancient Runes to scope out some enchanting Potterish shoes without leather! Creature-free and cruelty-free materials like canvas, rubber, and polyurethane make stepping out in magical style a breeze!
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