This week I’m delighted to publish an interview with Paula Pérez, co-founder of NAE Vegan Shoes. Founded by Paula and Alex Pérez, this Portuguese brand is at the forefront of the fight against animal and human exploitation, the brand’s name itself standing for No Animal Exploitation.
They produce high quality shoes under fair working conditions and NAE’s shoe collection ranges from their vegan boots, sandals and sneaker styles, right down to the classic court shoe.
And while when you think of conventional vegan shoes, you think of nasty PVC based virgin plastic models that rub your feet and fall apart after two weeks, what I really love about this brand is its use of ecological materials without the use of chemicals and their associated environmental toxins. These are sustainable shoes as well as ethical ones!
NAE’s list of leather alternatives made from eco-friendly materials is truly impressive. It ranges from apple skin leather, made from the waste created by the apple juicing industry, to organic cotton, cork oak (Quercus suber) which is carbon positive, recycled PET and the amazing Piñatex made from pineapple leaf fibres.
They source their Piñatex in the Philappines with leftovers from pineapple harvests that would normally go to waste, earning the farmers much needed extra income. Any unused fibres are cleverly used as fertiliser.
They also create their own vegan leather from a special blend of microfibres including cotton, polyester and nylon (recycled where possible) and their revolutionary Steam Bioeco which is a biofibre made from corn starch fermentation with recycled polyester to create a breathable and very low carbon material.
But NAE Vegan Shoes is not just about what goes into the shoes but also about the ethical principles behind how they’re made. The brand prioritises a fair work environment within the Portuguese footwear industry. Each factory is certified by the Portuguese Department of Labour and carries its own individual ISO certificates related to sustainability and labour conditions.
NAE stands out among vegan brands for its holistic approach to sustainability and ethics.
Nae’s best-selling range is crafted from eco-friendly materials that tell a story of innovation, respect for nature, and a clear stance against anything you’d associate with a conventional shoe company. This Portuguese ethical brand is a testament to what can be achieved when fashion meets ethical foresight, offering sustainable shoes that do not compromise on style or principle.
I hope you enjoy this interview with Paula Pérez, looking behind the scenes of this high-quality vegan footwear brand. Join me as we weave together the textures of vegan suede, organic cotton, and pineapple leaf fibres into a narrative of ecological responsibility, ethical manufacturing, and the relentless pursuit of a world free from animal and human exploitation.
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1. Tell us about your sustainable fashion brand and what sets you apart
Nae Vegan Shoes is proud to be one of the pioneering vegan shoe brands. My partner, Alex, and I founded this brand with a strong commitment to sustainability. What sets us apart is our dedication to offering a wide range of styles for all kinds of vegans. We firmly believe that ethical and sustainable fashion should be accessible to everyone.
2. What is your background and what made you decide to start up your brand?
What drove us to start Nae Vegan Shoes was not only our passion for sustainability but also the sense of responsibility to contribute positively to the fashion industry. We recognized the demanding nature of daily life within the fashion sector and felt the need to make a change.
Additionally, we wanted to test our entrepreneurial skills and venture into a field where we could align our values with our business endeavors. This combination of factors led us to take the leap and establish Nae Vegan Shoes.
3. Tell us a bit about how you source your fabrics and base materials
Our sourcing process involves attending trade shows to connect with material suppliers. We establish direct relationships with these suppliers and coordinate the production process with shoe factories. Before moving into production, we always rigorously test the materials at the Portuguese Technological Center to ensure their functionality and sustainability.
4. Do you take into account the recyclability of your products?
Recycling is a priority for us, and it’s one of the projects we plan to implement in 2024. We are committed to reducing the environmental impact of our products and ensuring they can be recycled responsibly.
5. Who makes your clothes/products?
Currently, we collaborate with various factories in Portugal and Spain to produce our products. We prioritize working with partners who share our commitment to ethical and sustainable practices.
6. Are any animals used in the production of your products and if so how do you make sure that they are treated ethically?
We are proud to say that we do not use any animal materials in our products. It’s a core principle of our brand to be completely vegan, and we take this commitment very seriously.
7. What else makes your brand sustainable/ethical?
Besides using vegan materials, we are continually searching for the best sustainable materials available. We also prioritize fair labor practices and ensure our products are made under ethical conditions.
8. What are the biggest challenges in operating as an ethical and sustainable fashion brand?
One of the biggest challenges we face is maintaining competitive profit margins while upholding our ethical and sustainable standards. Achieving the right balance between these factors can be demanding.
9. “Sustainability is not about being perfect, but is a journey”, how can you further improve what you do and what plans do you have for the future?
We wholeheartedly agree with this statement. As part of our ongoing journey, we plan to implement recycling initiatives, explore new sustainable materials, and further minimize our environmental footprint. Continuous improvement is integral to our brand’s ethos.
10. What one thing could fast fashion brands do to improve?
Fast fashion brands can make a significant impact by focusing on transparency in their supply chains and shifting towards more sustainable materials and practices. Educating consumers about the true cost of fast fashion is also essential.
11. What are your favorite products in your range right now and why?
One of my personal favorites is piñatex because it’s not only a sustainable material but also carries a meaningful story behind it. The innovation and creativity involved in producing piñatex make it a standout choice for us.
Thanks so much to Paula for taking the time to talk to Good Maker Tales and for giving us a glimpse behind the scenes of this innovotive vegan shoe brand.
To get your hands on these cool vegan shoes from NAE’s vegan boots to their sandals, or to learn more about their material range, check out the link below and use code NAEGMT15 for an exclusive 15% discount:
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