September 10th 2016 will mark a significant day in the world of cruelty free fashion, as an exciting vegan footwear brand is officially launched.

Friendship Shoes was conceptualised last September by Founders Steve and Caroline; committed vegans who struggled to find well designed shoes in good vegan fabrics.

We catch up with Steve in the run up to opening their new business to find out more…

How did the concept for Friendship Shoes originally come about?
I had a dream that I had designed a range of shoes, they were called “friendship shoes” and all the styles were adorned with the Yin and Yang symbol.  In the dream they were amazing and I woke with a tremendous sense of well-being, that dream has always stayed with me.

Once we started to talk about our range of shoes in earnest I realised that the Yin and Yang symbol was quite representative of our own ethics and that in the dream it wasn’t actually a design feature but emblematic of our ethos, dreams being full of symbolism. From the beginning I insisted we call them friendship shoes, the dream had always felt prophetic.

Then the realisation came that there was a genuine gap in the market for stylish vegan shoes. As vegans we were looking for cruelty free footwear that we liked.  We found that whilst we could buy things they didn’t tick all of our boxes. We also hope to bring a fun element into our shoes.

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Where did your initial interest for producing vegan footwear come from?
It really was about pleasing ourselves, our desire for style in the certain knowledge that nothing was harmed in the making.

Why is vegan fashion so important to you?
As a vegetarian for 35 years and a vegan for 4 years I’ve long been concerned about the terrible abuse of animals. I can control what goes into my body and onto my body.  Doing this is activism, every small action counts.

Where do you take inspiration from?
Our style is gender fluid, we are about harmonising. In my initial dream the shoes were embellished with the Yin and Yang symbol, I now realise the symbolism is about embracing the light and the dark.

What changes would you like to see within the fashion industry 5 years from now?
I’d like to see a blanket ban on any cruelty in the fashion world, we have a long way to go but I see the change coming.

Describe the pieces in your current collection.
We have taken 5 classic pieces: A Monk, Brogue, Loafer, Dealer Boot and 6 hole Brogue Boot, the twist is in the colours. We never wanted to reinvent the wheel, we will be seasonless and genderless: One shoe fits all.

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We’ve worked with an Italian company to create our unique fabric, it was important for us to get the finish we wanted and we’re very happy with it. Our shoes are made in the UK and are Goodyear welted so can be repaired. We’ve moved as far away from low priced throw away consumerism as we possibly could but we’re determined to keep them affordable as our entire objective is to make cruelty free shoes accessible to all. We want to feel that we’re saving lives and helping the planet.

Friendship Shoes will officially open their doors to the public on September 10th at 272 Hackney Road, London, E2 7SJ. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter for all updates.