Don’t you just love that feeling of purchasing a vegan item from a vegan brand that is also vegan owned? We admire brands that are motivated by their owner’s sense of ethics and one such brand, which has recently appeared on our radar, is Wills London, formerly known as Wills Vegan Shoes.
The brand, which takes its name after its owner Will Green, was only established about two years ago, yet has already managed to gain popularity around the globe.
Wills makes both impeccably stylish women’s and men’s shoes as well as accessories like belts and wallets. Wills’ website bursts with a variety of different styles from casual to dressy, and the shoes are ethically made under fair trade conditions in Portugal.
Vegan slogan, awards for style
One of the things that caught our attention were Will’s campaigns, which don’t only flaunt his designs, but also display vegan slogans that showcase how veganism and fashion can go hand in hand. They emphasize that one need not compromise on ethics in order to enjoy a high sense of style.
Will’s shoes are certified vegan by PETA, and his faux suede derby shoes were even awarded “Most stylish men’s shoes” in the 2014 PETA UK Vegan Fashion Awards.
The man behind the brand
I caught up Will for an exclusive interview to learn more about the man behind this awesomely ethical brand, and to find out how his passion for veganism lead to the creation of his stylish vegan shoes.
Hello Will! Thank you for taking the time to talk with us here at The Vegan Woman. Could you tell us a little about your vegan journey and what led you to going vegan?
I am lucky. I was brought up in a vegetarian household. I grew up on fresh wholefoods – I did not really appreciate the lifestyle when I was younger (I just wanted chips!) but certainly do now. I am healthy and understand we should live with animals – not against them.
It is thanks to the information and support from the Vegan Society UK and Animal Aid that I was introduced to and appreciated veganism. I decided to go vegan in October 2012. As soon as you go vegan – you develop a new perspective on life that is so humane, so positive. My Mum at 65 has just turned vegan after something like 50 years as a veggie – I am so proud of her with her Nutribullet ha ha!
You mention on your website that your dream is to help people make positive choices by bridging the gap between them and ethically produced vegan shoes; that you are motivated by your passion to provide shoes of the latest fashion while not hurting animals or people in the process.
Can you share with us what fueled this dream and what, if any, were your biggest obstacles in growing your company? Do you feel it’s been difficult to start and grow a completely vegan brand?
There is a perception out there at the moment that for a vegan business it is really easy – because the word is everywhere and it is cool. This perception is far from the reality. It is really very hard to start any business let alone one that fights against the orthodoxy. If you look, you see a vegan business disappearing all of the time – it is not plain sailing.
My main challenge has been getting the right materials and shoe factories to work with. It is important for me to provide shoes that look, feel and wear the same as a good pair of leather shoes – but are a positive choice.
Achieving an affordable retail price has been paramount. I want everyone to be able to wear nice shoes – to achieve this they need to be able to AFFORD them – otherwise I am excluding a lot of people who may then choose leather.
I certainly do not believe in adding money onto a price just because something is “green” or “eco”. That does not help people inside our community – or people thinking of becoming vegan worried that they cannot afford it. The result is it just does not help the animals, which is why I do this.
One of the things you have done in order to reach the heart of the mainstream with your ethically-made shoes is to change the brand’s name from Wills Vegan Shoes to Wills London. This was done with the intention of showing that vegan shoes should be the norm and not something that is labelled as being different.
You have also opened up your doors to international customers, and while you are still based in the UK, you now ship worldwide. How international is your brand and where do the majority of your customers come from?
Well… Wills sends more shoes to people outside the UK now so we are pretty international. I always have a tab with google translate open when I am at my computer! It is quite a mix but I am getting pretty good at French, German and have got into the habit of saying “fall” instead of “autumn”!
Thank you, Will, for this interview and for everything you do to promote veganism within the fashion industry!
For those of you interested in Will’s designs, you are welcome to check out his online store which ships internationally, with free returns and exchanges in the USA, Europe and Canada! There are also several stores around the world that offer Wills. Check out the store locator to see if there’s a supplier near you.
It’s GIVEAWAY time!
We are SUPER excited to offer you, our readers, a chance to enjoy Will’s designs as part of a generous giveaway being offered to The Vegan Woman’s community by Will himself!
If you would like to enter our giveaway for your chance to win a stylish pair of your choice from Wills London, make sure you LIKE, SHARE, and COMMENT on this post via our Facebook page, and tell us what it is you like about this vegan brand!
The two lucky winners will be announced on September 26th!
Cover image: courtesy of Wills Vegan Shoes.