From food and clothing to climate and wildlife, and everything in between - society’s interests are changing and the UK’s environmentally-conscious cohort is thrusting vegan businesses and the plant-based lifestyle into the limelight.
In 2018, 542,000 people in the UK consider themselves vegan, up from about 150,000 10 years ago. The same trend of growth applies to vegan businesses, which are sprouting up across the UK to service this demand.
In fact, between 2012 and 2016, there was a 185% jump in the number of vegan products launched in the UK, while 9% of food products launched in the UK in last year carried a vegan claim.
Roll back the clock to 2005 and Alicia Lai spotted something many of us wouldn’t for several more years - the need for vegan products and the innovative focus they instil in businesses.
A qualified podiatrist, Alicia couldn’t find any quality and style-led vegan accessories and footwear on the market. Prompted to act on her own initiative, she began to sell vegan accessories and footwear online, only promoting products based on her ethics as a vegan and ensuring no animals are harmed for any reason, fashion included.
Thus, Bourgeois Boheme was born.
“I had a sabbatical for two years to spend time with my two young children and re-launched Bourgeois Boheme in 2014 as an exclusively vegan footwear brand. It was a desire to show that there was a better way to produce fashion for the environment, factory workers and animals,” said Alicia.
“As a sustainable and vegan company this extended to showing the best alternatives to animal-derived materials as well as keeping true to our ethics of doing things more sustainably and fair,” she added.
An ethical ethos is at the core of everything Bourgeois Boheme do, from the materials they use to the way they treat their workers and everything in between.
The common conception when it comes to shoes is that the best kind, generally, is made of high-quality leather. This, in turn, lends itself to the idea that regardless of a sustainable, vegan ethos, Bourgeois Boheme will struggle to match the mainstream, non-vegan competitors for quality.
However, despite the challenges, quality has, and will not, be sacrificed in order to conform with the company’s mission.
“Our motto has always been that a good vegan shoe is not just about excluding animal materials. We care first and foremost about designing animal and environmentally friendly shoes which stand the test of time but also being pioneers of new innovative materials which sets us apart from other brands. We work with Piñatex (pineapple leaf fibre), cork, eco-stone (natural slate stone), bio-polyoils, among other innovative materials.
“We are also focused on the fact that our shoes are made ethically and our producers are looked after and paid fairly,” said Alicia.
Needless to say, the future of vegan businesses looks bright, with innovation serving as a vital ingredient of Bourgeois Boheme’s success, it seems the environment won’t be the only thing to benefit from the rise of their products, but consumer groups will, too.
If you are looking for a product that ticks all the boxes in regard to innovation, compassion to animals, people and the environment, look no further.