MooShoes

Hot cruelty-free fashion: a great example of full respect for flora and fauna

Wednesday 26 November 2008, by Allen Yi, Justin Crankin

“An animal experiment cannot be justifiable unless the experiment is so important that the use of a brain-damaged human would be justifiable.” Peter Singer

Why did we choose this company?

Vegetarianism is one of the prominent trends in the modern society. It is considered to be a part of new era consciousness: responsible people should not utilize animals and nature if it is not absolutely necessary. As any movement vegetarianism has its extremes and as any trend it has many unconscious followers who get involved just because it is fashionable. The idea to sell vegan clothes at first sight might seem to seek profits from the snob caprice of such “unconscious fashion followers”. But for MooShoes selling vegan apparel is much more than just taking advantage of the current market opportunity. It is company’s philosophy to protect the environment which determines market positioning, not vice versa.

Main facts about the activities of the company

MooShoes is a retail store in Manhattan, NY, as well as an online store, that sells shoes, t-shirts, jackets, wallets and cosmetics. Its founders and owners are the Kubersky sisters, Erica and Sara. What is remarkable about this project is the fact that everything they sell is cruelty-free in its production.

Their mission is to satisfy people’s fashion needs, while avoiding the use of any kind of animal-based products. Instead of using fur, leather, wool, silk or any other animal-based material, their raw materials include products like synthetic, linen and cotton. These are manufactured by two Italy-based producers, Crespi and Giardini. The essential value that nourishes this vision is total respect for living organisms and for the environment.

These ideas have not prevented the sisters from doing profitable business: the average sales from 2001 to 2006 were more than $1million. It seems that Moeshoes is not a direct competitor of other clothes and accessories’ shops since it targets a specific niche audience of vegans with a high degree of loyalty. In a country like Spain, the majority of consumers consider clothes or complements not made from animal-based raw materials to be the poor-quality. Moo Shoes has managed to change this belief. Their products are often referred in luxury category and they even charge higher prices comparing to most other shops. Nevertheless, consumers are willing to pay these price premium because the firm is in complete accordance with the mentality and lifestyle.

Ethical challenges the company is addressing and reasons to trust in it

Striving to save the nature, MooShoes goes beyond avoiding the use of animal product. According to the company’s philosophy, it is unnecessary and unacceptable to kill animals for the sole purpose of human comfort. Apart from that, they consider livestock-breeding to be irresponsible in the sense that both the factory farms and the farm animals pollute our waterways. The process of turning animal skin into leather involves the use of toxic chemicals and the decomposition of leather products is extremely slow, for instance.

These solid well-defined principles helped MooShoes to find its target customer group and provide them with highly differentiated and desired products. The company is not following the market trends, it seeks to set them by promoting its core ideas, supporting related initiatives and educating society in general. And people do appreciate it: the number of MooShoes fans is constantly growing – only during the first 6 years of existence the company had to change the store location twice in search for bigger space.

Challenges the company might face in the future and ways to improve

MooShoes seeks to implement and promote sustainable responsibility in all possible dimensions which sometimes leads to an extreme positioning. The food eaten in the store is required to be vegetarian and the shop-assistants are not allowed to wear any animal product. Apart from these higher standards of eco-responsibility the company is committed to pursue, it faces other CSR challenges common for all modern manufacturing businesses, e.g. fair labour claiming their products are not only animal- but also people-friendly.

Many products of MooShoes are made in union factories in Western Europe, Australia, Canada, and the US. They are very careful to address labour issue with all manufacturers by requiring them to respect the standards. Moreover, they include the country of origin on all of the product descriptions so that the customers can make an informed decision about any possible purchases.

Maybe this is a radical policy, but it corresponds to their philosophy. MooShoes defends the idea of not exercising speciesism until the end and this allows it to be considered an unbeaten eco-friendly fashion store.

Ideas for future business:

“We have products that not only look great, but that you can feel great about”

Location: United States of America

Sector: shoes & clothing

Official website: http://www.mooshoes.com/

Key figures:

$1 million in sales per year

Nbr. visits: 1823