ABOUT OUR VEGAN RANGE // An open letter to our customers
An open letter to our Radical customers. From Radical Yes! Brand Director and founder Kerryn Moscicki.
As we launch our very first vegan collection obviously questions around our ethical and sustainable business practices are top of mind.
So, WHY VEGAN AND WHY NOW?
As a qualified Yoga Instructor and regular practioner it is fair to say that yoga has laid a very important foundation for me in the evolution of the Radical Yes brand. It is not all we are about but it is a massive inspiration from both a design and lifestyle point of view. It is the reason we only make flat shoes (because as every Yogi knows heels will shorten your hamstrings and wreck your back)!
Let me be up front, I am not a vegan but having learnt more about the philosophy of AHIMSA or 'non-violence' through the practice, I felt a compelling relevance in creating products for people who choose to be animal free. I also have many friends who are vegan and choose animal free as a way of life.
So we have created this capsule, as an alternative for the many people who have told us that they love our brand but would prefer a non-leather product.
In terms of the design process we specifically choose a full textile offer as opposed to Polyurathane or ‘leather look’ materials as we feel PU - which is a manmade material not only makes your feet sweat but does not easily break down and most often ends up as landfill - is not a sustainable choice for people who care about their impact on the environment (and is the reason we also use more expensive natural materials such as leather and suede in our main ranges). We have not tried to emmulate leather shoes, but instead taken a new approach with our cotton canvas choices and silhouettes.
Which leads us to…
THE IMPORTANT STORY BEHIND OUR MAKE
We have a strong and long-standing relationship with our manufacturing partner having known and worked together for almost 8 years.
We visit our maker in China at least twice a year and have first hand knowledge of the integrity of his business and business practices. As an added assurance we also receive annual audit reporting which is conducted by a third party and looks into the working conditions of the factory. The audit covers aspects such as OH&S, Environmental Waste Management, Working Hours and Minimum Wage compliance and is conducted by the Foregin Trade Association as part of their ‘Business Social Compliance Initative’.
We produce all of our shoes in Shenzhen which is based just over the border of Hong Kong in Southern China. Having developed product in many parts of China throughout my 15 year career in the industry, it is my opinion that working conditions in Shenzhen are amongst some of the best in China as skilled workers are in high demand and so are able to command better salaries and conditions. The standard of living in Shenzhen is very modern. The proximity to Hong Kong and its vibrant influence is evident in the attitudes and lifestyle of the people we work closely with to produce our ranges.
Our materials are sourced about 140KM north of Shenzhen in a province called Guangzhou. We source materials from Guangzhou because they are of a higher standard and quality than those found in the local market in Shenzhen. Whilst there is a greater breadth of choice, being an open market it can be difficult to confirm the source trail of materials however this is the trade off we have to make in producing our very small order quantities. It is our goal as the business grows to eventually be able to afford made-to-order specified materials where we can be more assured of the supply chain.
With that in mind whilst we attempted to source organic cottons to develop the Vegan collection, due to the very small order quantities we make, we are not able to claim that any of the cottons used in our shoes are organically grown or manufactured. We are able to confirm that as far back as we can source, raw materials were procured within China (and not imported from places where cotton picking practices pose serious ethical and human rights abuse issues such as Uzbekistan).
Be assured that like you, we ask questions, we are curious and we care about the ethics of our products. If there is something specific you would like to know please email us firstname.lastname@example.org. If we don’t know the answer we will do our best to find out for you.
November is KINDNESS month at Radical HQ. Over the coming weeks we will be introducing more behind the scenes stories from our maker and sharing more about the process about how are products are made. We will also soon unveil our first large scale corporate social responsibility project, something that I am most proud and excited to share.
Thank you for your interest and support of our brand.