Collection and Co is nestled right in the heart of Broadmead on the ground floor of The Galleries, near the Merchant Street entrance. From the outside it looks like any other shoe shop, but in fact it has some pretty impressive ethical credentials. All of the shoes are ethically and sustainably made using non-animal leather and non-animal glue, making them suitable for vegans.
Owner Felesha Papa started the brand online initially, but after noticing that a lot of her orders were coming from Bristol, she decided to set up a pop-up shop here, which was a roaring success. “The reaction was fantastic so I decided to make the shop permanent,” she says. “We love being based in Bristol as we feel it’s becoming one of the finest cities in the UK with the span of cultures, open mindedness, fashion and architecture. The vegan community is definitely growing in Bristol too.”
Felesha started her career in the mainstream fashion industry in London, but as a vegan herself she felt that the industry was lacking in leather-free alternatives. So, she set about creating her own range that would stand up against leather shoes aesthetically.
“Our mission is to change the way vegan fashion is perceived by creating fashion-forward designs. We hope this will set a trend within the industry and for brands to reconsider their approach to the use of animal fabrics,” she continues.
With such a central location, the shop sees a variety of customers coming through its door – and they are not just vegans. “I believe when products are good quality and have a variation of cool, intricate designs, you can’t really pinpoint a specific type of person who wears them,” Felesha continues. “Both vegans and non-vegans are curious about the fabrics, as they’re aesthetically identical to leather.” Customers are often surprised to find out that the shoes they’re buying are made from a variety of upcycled and eco-friendly materials such as recycled plastics, pineapple leather and hemp, as they have the same breathable quality as traditional animal leather, unlike other mainstream synthetic shoes.
Felesha says that they have started to see a lot of women shopping for men’s styles of shoe, which was where the idea to create a unisex trainer range – TREXI, which means ‘run’ in Greek – came from. There are four designs to choose from, three made from recycled plastics and one from organic cotton twill. They’ve become one of the best sellers: “I think because they’re unisex and affordable – there is definitely a pair for everyone,” Felesha continues.
Collection and Co are continuing to be at the forefront of innovation when it comes to sustainable shoe materials. “I love experimenting and finding out about futuristic materials that no one has ever thought about using, such as mushroom leather,” Felesha says. “We are currently working on a healthy sea initiative and have removed old fishing nets from the sea, which we are incorporating to use in our new collection.” It’s certainly not your usual pair of trainers.
Collection and Co, Ground floor, The Galleries, Broadmead, Bristol, BS1 3XB
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