Designer Interview

By: Fashwire
Jul 18, 2022 02:08 PM

When did you know you wanted to develop a vegan brand?

Paula Pérez has always had a special taste for footwear, as most women do. But the fact that she adopted a vegan lifestyle made it very difficult to find beautiful, comfortable, and animal-friendly shoes due to the lack of options on the market. We're talking about the year of 2008. That's when the adventure of creating an animal- and environmentally friendly brand begins, this brand is made for all styles and occasions.


What is your earliest design memory for your brand?

The first shoe model idea that I came up was a more basic style, without being anything to complex in style since we were starting out. That said, the first idea was a ballet flat-style women's shoe that ended up being made. This model is called Nash and it was produced in black vegan leather and that's how it was.

In 2008, we looked for more basic and casual styles, which would respond to many people looking for a vegan option to add to their shoes, with that, we also didn't restrict the market too much, which at the time was still starting.


“Nae Vegan conveys our mission: to propose an alternative that is animal-friendly and against human exploitation.”


Where do you find inspiration?

Our inspiration comes from the trends that were in fashion for that year, but also essentially from the feedback from our customers. It’s very important for us to know what they think about the products we develop, and we value their opinion a lot.


What is your favorite part about designing?

Our favorite part, but also the most demanding, is to develop the shoe combining design with comfort. For example, we care a lot about the materials we use. The material must be 100% of plant origin, sustainable (the more natural the better), resistant enough for footwear and produced without human exploitation. It is an interesting challenge because sometimes a material has everything we want in terms of its composition and levels of sustainability, but then it is not resistant and fails in the technological center of footwear. We can no longer use it. Or the material is extremely resistant, and its origin is 100% vegetable, but the sustainability levels are low, or its production is dubious. We can’t use it anymore. It is very difficult to find this balance, which is very important for us and for our customers as well. It is with this exhaustive research that we can guarantee the quality at all levels of the materials we use.


“Our products are always designed with versatility, originality, and comfort in mind.”


Tell us more about the name Nae Vegan Footwear?

Nae is a vegan, ecological and ethical footwear, and accessories brand. It was created in 2008 with the purpose of being an ethical and sustainable alternative to existing footwear, adapting the principles of veganism to the footwear industry. See more about the three pillars of the brand here. NAE stands for "No Animal Exploitation". Nae Vegan conveys our mission: to propose an alternative that is animal-friendly and against human exploitation. Our shoes and accessories are 100% vegan. None of the products are made from animal skin, fur, or any other meat by-products. We only choose synthetic, recycled, and natural materials.


What was your previous work experience before launching your brand?

Paula Pérez – with a master’s in information management and a degree in Applied Mathematics, Paula decided to launch NAE Vegan Shoes to test her entrepreneurial vein and develop a business with the values she identifies herself with.

Alejandro Pérez - After graduating in Applied Mathematics, Alex had always worked in Information Technologies but quickly felt engaged to the shoe business.


What sets your brand apart from the rest?

What makes our brand different from other sustainable footwear brands is the diversity of products we present in each collection, made with varied different sustainable materials. Our products are always designed with versatility, originality, and comfort in mind.


What brand values are the most important for Nae Vegan Footwear?

Our values are linked to three pillars that we consider essential: Animals, Planet and People.

Animals because we do not use materials of animal origin in any of our products.

Planet because the materials we use are sustainable and help to minimize the impact on the environment.

People because we value all the human rights and do not support any company that practices any kind of human exploitation, as, unfortunately, is very common to see.


What do you envision for the future of your brand?

Our main goal is to consolidate ourselves as a vegan and sustainable fashion brand. We want to continue our commitment to the quality and comfort of our current product lines, while at the same time embracing other product lines with the clear objective of offering the customer a greater variety of ethical and ecological options and models.


Do you have a favorite piece that you have designed?

It's a difficult question because our summer collection was designed to offer our customers both the comfort and versatility in a single pair of shoes. Therefore, all models are functional and comfortable. But if we had to choose only just one piece, maybe we'd choose the Gaia sandals, a unisex model made with piñatex, designed in two neutral colors, perfect for any kind of look and situation, with an ergonomic insole that perfectly adapts to the shape of the foot.


What were some hurdles you had to overcome in your business?

At the beginning of the creation of the brand we faced some difficulties. It's not easy to start a brand. And it becomes even more difficult when the objective of this brand is to make shoes using natural and sustainable materials in their manufacture. Explaining to factories, which throughout their existence have made shoes using leather, that it is possible to make shoes using ecological and animal-friendly materials was not an easy process. It took a lot of persistence and security in the product we were presenting. With all that faced and established, today we consider that the main challenge is to find ethical suppliers that produce sustainable and natural, resistant materials for footwear.


What is the one piece of advice you would give to a new designer?

Our main advice is to never give up if you truly believe in the product you are presenting. There will be many no’s until you get a yes, so persistence is key. Never forget that.


How important is social media to your brand?

Social media is very important to us because they allow us to be close to our customers and to those who believe in our work. They allow us to have direct feedback from our customers regarding the product we develop, while allowing us to share our daily work with transparency.


What is the most important thing you would like your brand to be recognized for?

We want Nae to be a reference within the fashion world, and in this way to actively contribute to the growth of sustainable fashion worldwide. We want to share with the world that it is possible to have good, qualified sustainable products and the sustainable brands are easy to reach.


How would you define fashion?

For us, fashion is timeless, sustainable, and fair for all who inhabit this planet, no matter if they’re people or animals. It’s not possible anymore to think about fashion and don’t consider sustainability in the process.