The rumors are true, I have decided it is time to retire our little shoe company. And yes, there is a massive sale, which is now live on our website. But I also wanted to say a few things, it’s been 7 years of fighting the good fight and I have some feelings about this bittersweet day.
Although NICORA is closing, I am incredibly proud of the community that I have been lucky enough to be a part of. Yes, I sell shoes, but I have been inspired by the whole world of activists and people who just give a shit. Each one of you who is receiving this has my undying gratitude.
I am a 3rd gen. shoemaker, and I wanted to build shoes that were like nothing else on the market. And as I announce the closing, the fact is there is still nothing like what we made on the market. We actually came up on Instagram back in 2012 – before Instagram became the advertising machine it is today.
Here is my Brand Manifesto, and what you deserve from shoes…
- High Quality Vegan Shoes should exist!
NICORA Way: Our shoes are durable, repairable, and can be maintained for years and years.
REALITY: Most brands, even luxury brands, make shoes that fall apart right around one year. You are tricked into buying a new pair, and you think it’s your fault that you’re burning through shoes. It’s dishonest and we never, ever did this. Even when it meant losing money.
- Ethically Made Shoes shouldn’t be so hard for you to find.
NICORA Way: Since founding NICORA in 2012, I have personally verified that every shoemaker gets paid a living wage. This has meant that margins are very skinny unless we charge $600 for a pair of boots, which is out of my budget personally. I never wanted our shoes to be unattainable.
REALITY: The word “ethical” has been increasingly hijacked over the past ten years, which was pretty grim to see. Especially in shoes, where we damn well know a $100 pair of shoes cannot be made with fair wages. It’s a physical impossibility. When a brand slaps “smiling shoemaker stock photo” on their website, it’s just marketing. Prove to me that your shoemakers in China are making more than a slave wages. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
- You Deserve Shoes that don’t kill the planet and animals:
NICORA way: Back in 2012 “sustainable” meant something a bit more tangible than it does today. For me it meant the materials were made in a way that guaranteed the continued health of our planet. Shoe materials are unregulatedand can be toxic and highly pollutant. We settled on plant-based “leathers” with a low resource imprint and that utilized recycled plastics. This became the hardest and most expensive ordeal of our company. Our materials per pair often times top $50 a pair… believe me nobody, aside from maybe Stella McCartney, is paying this much for materials.
REALITY: The word “sustainable” means nothing anymore. There is no way to verify or confirm its accurate usage. It’s a marketing term used it to pull on the heartstrings of activist types like us. No, vegan does not mean good for the planet. Fracking and strip mining Yosemite National Park is technically “vegan”, but I think we can agree it’s bad for the earth. Cheap is cheap for a reason – shortcuts save money at the expense of the environment. While we are at it, let’s get into the use of “sustainable” in leather manufacturing. Sorry, leather cannot ever be made sustainably. From start to finish, it is a horrifically environmentally taxing process. RUN from any brand using the terms “veg tanned leather”, “sustainable leather”, “non-toxic leather”, “chrome free leather”, etc. These are smokescreen terms used to pad their bottom line by making consumers feel good. It’s like saying “yeah we removed that mountaintop to get at that coal, but we built a miniature golf course on it’s ruins!” If a brand is willing to lie about their most essential processes and materials, their credibility is lost.
(If you want to learn more about leather, my @cashcowradio leather episode is up on Thursday)
These are the reasons I began, and these are also the reasons why I am closing. I refuse to bend any of these values even if it means I could save the company and turn a bigger profit. My answer is HELL NO. I promise to continue working in anti-leather activism and to advice other brands on how to do things right. And by all means, please BUY everything in the store. Wear them, repair them, and use them forever. Don’t participate in the vulture consumerism that has been so grievously foisted upon us.