April Wartime Wardrobe Challenge Update - When a Vegan Buys Leather Shoes

In January 2013, I started participating in the Wartime Wardrobe Challenge, put forth by Little House in Town and The Double Life of Mrs M.  In short, it's a clothes-rationing project focused on ethical consumption.  Factoring in ecological and labor standards, items are assigned a "price" (i.e. 2 coupons, 4 coupons, no coupons) and you spend up to your maximum of 66 coupons for the year.  Obviously the nastier the item is for workers and/or the environment, the more coupons you lose.

My interest in participating in this challenge is that it gives me a novel way to track my purchases and offers a re-framing of consumption habits.  I think it's interesting that when all people were buying less, it made a certain baseline level of consumption the norm and therefore it wasn't seen as impossible or weird.  However, nowadays, there is a huge culture of consumption and I find it funny (and sad...and frightening...and interesting) that we have to invent projects or challenges in order to buck the current social climate of consumption.  It is now an event to consume differently.


Oh, April.  This will be the least pleasant update of the entire challenge, I'm sure.  In my quest for expedient and decisive shopping for a pair of sneakers, I managed to buy sneakers with frickin' leather on them.  I looked at a billion vegan pairs of Sauconys (because I know they are comfortable, last a long time and have vegan options) and then managed to pick up a pair with leather trim.  The tongue tag did have a crease where I only saw "nylon" so I guess I just assumed it was a pair I'd looked at before and a quick scan of the tag was fine.  I didn't notice the leather part of the label until I'd worn them for two weeks so I couldn't return them.  Yes, I've been vegan for 18 years and in a careless moment, I still managed to buy shoes with leather on them.

I have to count them for the Wartime Wardrobe Challenge, because I bought them.  But my biggest concern was then where they'd go.  None of my vegan friends will want them.  I wanted to make sure they didn't end up in the waste stream.  And I wanted to make sure they went to someone who wanted them.  Dumping them at a thrift store is not always the best way of matching up an available item with a person who will use that item.  A lot of stuff in thrift stores gets cycled out if not purchased and is either sent overseas or processed as waste textiles.  So instead I reached out to friends and family (currently the plan is to pass them on to my mother to see if they'll fit).

Needing to replace my inappropriate sneakers with appropriate sneakers, I thought I'd try the Tyvek sneakers I'd been seeing around.  I purchased them through the Unstitched Utilities website - on sale!  I love when brands label things vegan and use reclaimed materials (in this case, Tyvek).  I was curious to see how durable Tyvek is long-term.  There are a lot of Tyvek DIYs out there but I was curious about a Tyvek retail product.

uu shoes

Fashioned from repurposed and recyclable materials, which are environmentally and vegan friendly, this line of sustainable forward-thinking shoes provide the consumer with a hip and trendy alternative to the usual standbys.  {from the Unstitched Utilities site}

You can see them in action in this outfit picture post and read about their labor standards as well.  So far they're pretty comfortable.  I wasn't sure how much I'd like the crinkly appearance and I figured it'd smooth out over time anyway but it's growing on me.

Here's what I charged myself for April 2013:

Leather shoes:  5 coupons  @ $50 in retail store
Vegan Shoes:  5 coupons  @ $40, online at the Unstitched Utilities site


 25 spent out of 66

You can find my previous Wartime Wardrobe Challenge updates here:

January 2013 Update = 0 Coupons, 2 items purchased ($42 total) for 2013

February 2013 Update = 0 Coupons,  2 items purchased ($42 total) for 2013

March 2013 Update = 15 Coupons, 5 items purchased ($288 total) for 2013

Running total as of April 2013 = 25 Coupons, 7 items purchased ($378 total) for 2013


  1. i've been a vegan for five years, and i, too, recently accidentally and unintentionally purchased shoes with leather. i wear a u.s. women's size 12 shoe, and many of my shoes come from payless because they offer vegan-friendly shoes up to size 13. i ordered a pair of sneakers off their website that stated they were made with all man-made materials, and then when they arrived on my doorstep, the tongue of the sneaker stated "leather and man-made materials." so, they'll be going back. it's frustrating, and this has happened with payless before-- i spot a cute pair on their website, find them in a local store, and they will have "leather" on the label.

    1. Thank you for sharing that, jennifer! The mixed messages with online ordering is maddening. I have that happen to me on Etsy all the time. I think "vegan" is strangely a new tag term that people stick on everything - even when it's leather.

  2. I've never seen a pair of Tyvek shoes and I'll be curious to see how they wear too.

    1. HEEEEY TERRI! Good to see you again!

  3. Argh, that must've been so disappointing! Tyvek looks interesting, I hadn't been introduced to it before this.

    1. It was not my finest moment, that's for sure! The Tyvek is comfortable so far but I don't anticipate wearing it sans socks, the way I would with canvas sneakers.

  4. I bought a rain coat from Banana Republic a couple of years ago. It was nylon, so I didn't even look at the tag. Didn't notice it had leather trim on the buckles until I got it back from the (green) dry cleaners. Felt like such an idiot! I still wore it (though it doesn't presently fit well), but I knew to be more careful next time. We all make mistakes!

  5. oh that is frustrating. but thank you for being so honest about your mishap.

    funny, bc i totally love the crinkly texture. and why would you not wear sans socks? are they not very breathable?

    also, jesse anne a while back you left a comment when a friend of mine passed away. i actually ended up closing comments to that post b/c it was hard for me to read at the time and I mean actually still hard, I have really just started to talk about him without bursting into tears. but thank you so much for your thoughtfulness and your well wishes. it really does mean a lot to me.


Post a Comment

Hey there! Thanks for leaving a comment. Please don't apologize for writing a lot - I like long thoughtful comments so bring on the "wall o' text" if you wish and have no shame.

Short comments are, of course, also always welcome.