This cult shoe brand is launching vegan footwear

Cult shoe label Dear Frances is beloved by fashion editors, influencers and celebrities alike, thanks to its timeless leather designs that include knee-high boots and chunky sandals.

As of yesterday - thought really it's been years in the making - it made its first foray into vegan leather by releasing a new eco collection made from apple fibres, and it's just lovely. Including trainers, ankle boots and slides, it's the capsule footwear wardrobe you need to see you through the years.

I sat down with Dear Frances designer and founder Jane Frances to chat about the brand's new launch.

What was the inspiration behind the collection?

We've been wanting to launch a vegan line for a long time. We had so many requests for vegan options, daily many people were asking if we offer a vegan friendly version for our most popular styles and we wanted to be able to say yes. But vegan footwear has always been challenging.

Dear Frances is committed to being as sustainable as possible, in both our products and our production practises, so we didn’t want to create a product that ended up substituting the leather for a plastic that was going to cause lots of harm to the environment. We were inspired by our research when we discovered a new frontier of eco-friendly vegan materials that are now durable enough to be used in footwear and supple enough to feel super soft and cosy on the feet.

What makes this vegan leather so special?

Our vegan collection was years in the making – we wanted to produce a product that we could be proud of. Whilst a lot of vegan leathers are made using toxic and non-sustainable plastics, the material used in our vegan collection is made from cellulose fibres, from apples. This is a sustainable vegan alternative, produced using residual fibres (the pulp) from the apple juicing industry. It’s made using the waste product that would have otherwise been discarded.

Sustainability has always been a main focus for the brand, which other areas of the business are you focusing on?

Sustainability has always been something that we keep in mind with all of our collections. All of our shoes are designed to last – we create styles that are classic wardrobe staples, styles that don’t just come and go into fashion, they’re everlasting styles. We do as much as possible to keep this in mind throughout all points of the business, right down to the fact that our shoe boxes are also made from fruit pulp.

How can consumers shop more sustainably?

I think it’s really important to create a good capsule wardrobe. When you need to, invest in good quality pieces. Invest in items that you know you’ll wear time and time again and for years to come, regardless of what’s ‘on trend’. If you buy classic pieces, they’ll last you forever.

Penny Goldstone

Penny Goldstone is the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire, covering everything from catwalk trends to royal fashion and the latest high street and Instagram must-haves.

Penny grew up in France and studied languages and law at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris before moving to the UK for her MA in multimedia journalism at Bournemouth University. She moved to the UK permanently and has never looked back (though she does go back regularly to stock up on cheese and wine).

Although she's always loved fashion - she used to create scrapbooks of her favourite trends and looks, including Sienna Miller and Kate Moss' boho phase - her first job was at, sourcing the best deals for everything from restaurants to designer sales.

However she quit after two years to follow her true passion, fashion journalism, and after many years of internships and freelance stints at magazines including Red, Cosmopolitan, Stylist and Good Housekeeping, landed her dream job as the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire UK.

Her favourite part of the job is discovering new brands and meeting designers, and travelling the world to attend events and fashion shows. Seeing her first Chanel runway IRL at Paris Fashion Week was a true pinch-me moment.