The Taylor + Thomas vegan shoes brand was co-founded by Jessica Taylor Mead and Elizabeth Thomas James who met in a footwear design class and found common ground in personal styling and global consciousness. Taylor + Thomas is a modern, luxury, ethical shoe line driven by a commitment to the planet, as well as the people and animals who inhabit it. Taylor + Thomas vegan shoes have been inspired by female icons, and the brand as a whole pays homage to generations of craftsmanship, alongside the construct of modern luxury itself.
As a luxury footwear brand that prioritises thoughtfulness, sustainability and innovation, what inspired you to create Taylor + Thomas?
We (Jess and Liz) met in a footwear design class, and the connect was kismet. Not only do we share a common ground on personal styling, but we both recognised the need for the fashion industry to adopt more sustainable and cruelty-free practices. From the carbon emissions, water pollution and waste production, to the treatment of animals and exploitation of the labour force – we knew we wanted to move above and beyond the fashion industry’s status quo. Sustainability wasn’t an option for us, it was an imperative.
Taylor + Thomas is a female-founded sustainable, cruelty-free, luxury women’s shoe line that is designed, developed, and manufactured in downtown Los Angeles. We are working to bring revolutionary ideas and aesthetics to the luxury footwear industry by bridging conscious consumption with elevated taste, working to redefine luxury to mean quality, craftsmanship and ethics. We are a luxury brand driven by a responsibility to the health of our planet and the people and animals who inhabit it, today and for generations to come.
How does your global consciousness influence your business decisions?
Further to the above answer, we really work to look behind the curtain of everyone we partner with. From our material suppliers, to our factory, to our packaging suppliers, to our shipping methods. We strive to find people and companies who hold similar values as ours.
We love that you have aligned with a charity to share your profits. Tell us about why you are partnering with 1% For The Planet.
As 1% For The Planet says: “Our planet can’t wait.” We knew we wanted to share profits with causes that support the environment due to the fact that the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world. 1% For The Planet is a great resource for connecting with various non-profit organisations that protect a range of environmental causes, from land, forests, rivers and oceans, to also encourage sustainable methods of energy production.
Water-based polyurethane is a new solvent and chemical-free material. What makes it a sustainable yet still durable and practical choice in your footwear, as opposed to other materials?
Standard polyurethane’s are made with a chemical resin and are therefore laden with chemicals and stuff that’s just not good for people or the environment. And to touch quickly on leather – there is no such thing as sustainable or cruelty-free leather; leather is the most polluting material used by the fashion industry. A good reference is the Kering Environmental Profit & Loss Report (page 5 specifically) for various material impacts on the environment: http://www.kering.com/sites/default/files/kering_group_2016_epl_results.pdf. Also, as a luxury company, it was important to us to find vegan leathers that looked and behaved like actual leather. We’re very happy with the materials that we found – not only are they sustainable, but many people don’t realise they are vegan when they first see and feel them.
We love that your shoes are named after icons of music and art – why and how did you choose the names?
From a design standpoint, we drew our inspiration from eras passed. The 1960s and 70s were times of creativity, freedom of expression and political activism. Progressive ideas emerged that allowed for the rise of strong feminine voices in a culture that not only spoke to the growing concerns of a younger generation, but also set the precedent for generations to come. Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Talitha Getty, Jane Birkin, Brigitte Bardot – just a handful of the female voices from that era that we look to for inspiration.
Boots are emblematic of Patti Smith’s personal style, so when we set out to design a boot, we naturally named it after her. With an androgynous and uncompromising style, Patti Smith is a strong female artist, a revolutionary, the godmother of punk, an icon of the period in New York that was so influential to us – both personally and as a brand. We chose the iconic Chelsea boot but gave it a feminine twist with an almond toe, a slim silhouette and a slightly elevated heel.
With her trailblazing bohemian style, Talitha Getty’s opulent, jet-setting life are a fantasy – truly inspiring and providing an escape from today’s world. We reinvented the iconic Moroccan slipper – the babouche – by adding a sturdy western-inspired sole and an asymmetric topline. Very east meets west, a la Talitha Getty herself. Jane Birkin is the iconic symbol of a care free life and an off-hand style. She is the epitome of embodying je ne sais quoi, and when not barefoot, she was often pictured gallivanting around in loafers. For our update, we opted for the square toe of the 60s and 70s and gave it our twist, literally.
Can you share how best to care for the Taylor + Thomas shoes to make them last?
Our shoes are built to last. The materials are even inherently water-proof. But maybe don’t go kicking rocks.
Call by our store at 32-34 New Cavendish Street W1G 8UE or shop Taylor + Thomas vegan shoes online.