Beyond Skin was born in 2001 because it seemed impossible to be both stylish and cruelty-free. There were simply no gorgeous vegan shoes to be found anywhere! We set out on a mission to bring style and quality to those who cared. We were keen to make our shoes as close to home as possible so set off on our quest to find some of the last footwear factories in existence in the UK. It was not an easy road and it took us almost 2 years to find a UK factory that could make beautiful non-leather footwear.
THE OLD DAYS
We started out making our first shoe samples in a small factory in E17 and just as we were about to start production it closed down. Determined to see our vision become a reality, we eventually found another small factory on London's Holloway Road and in 2003 began to trade ethical shoes from our home on Agar Grove NW1.
We launched a tiny collection of handmade to order veggie shoes and boots in two simple colourways over six styles. From here the collections grew and grew, but sadly our little factory in Camden met its demise. Not ready to surrender, we battled on to find one of the last remaining factories in East London to take over our production. This little family-run factory handmade all of our lovely designer vegan shoes for the next few years.
We were very lucky around this time to have the wonderful Natalie Portman wear our vegan shoes at the Golden Globes, the Oscars, and even in her movie V for Vendetta. Natalie Portman was, and continues to be, a great ambassador for Beyond Skin. This greatly helped us gain momentum and recognition with the media, and led to heaps of fabulous features in the likes of Vogue, Elle, Grazia and many more. We went on to win many awards including Drapers, Grazia, RSPCA, PETA Proggy, Footwear Friends & Vegan Society, with more to follow...!
As awareness of our brand increased, more and more boutiques began to ask us if they could carry our Beyond Skin designer shoes. We were unable to offer the Beyond Skin line to them wholesale due to the high cost of UK manufacturing. So, to fulfil these stores’ demands, we created Sui Generis by Beyond Skin, our high end luxury line of vegan dress shoes.
Our Beyond Skin line was more sought after by boutiques than Sui Generis, but in order to offer Beyond Skin wholesale, we knew we had to reduce our costs. We were very lucky to get introduced to an amazing woman who worked with lots of factories in Alicante, Spain. She helped us to find some lovely factories to work with to help build our growing brand.
After a couple of seasons of designing both collections (Sui Generis in the UK and Beyond Skin in Spain), we realised we were stretching ourselves a little too thin. Sadly our Sui Generis line had to be put on hold as manufacturing in England became increasingly tricky due to diminishing footwear suppliers. However, we hope to revive our gorgeous Sui Generis line again, sometime in the future, perhaps when we open our flagship store in London...
All of our shoes are now made in sunny Alicante in Spain, and we are based in lovely (but not quite so sunny) Brighton in the UK. Everything happens from this seaside hub, where we design our collections, send out orders, and tinker away at our wonderful website which we love.
Our adventures still continue! Look out next season for even more sustainable and ethical materials featured throughout our Essentials collection, as well as our current line of luxury vegan shoes. We also have plans to enter the world of accessories, and we have started to plan our menswear range for the future. As you can see, we have many exciting plans in the pipeline, so watch this space!