THINK MINK

No, it's not the mink you're thinking of! We're talking about Rebecca Mink, the LA-based stylist-turned-designer behind chic skin-free footwear line, Mink. Rebecca, a long-time vegan, had a lucrative career dressing celebrities for red carpets and publicity events but made a point of never using animal products on any of her clients. Incidentally, many of the women she dressed, like Pamela Anderson and Alicia Silverstone, were also vegan, and applauded Rebecca's mindfulness and commitment to a cruelty-free lifestyle. So in 2000, she set out to expand her stylish reach by creating high-end shoes that were of equal quality to the finest designer labels, but were vegan, from the textiles to the glue. Her mission tested her grit and perseverance to the max -- she flew to Italy to find a manufacturer but was repeatedly turned down because she refused to use leather. She eventually found one savvy independent cobbler who jumped on-board, but it wasn't until 2004 that Rebecca was able to touch her first physical sample. But once she started putting her custom shoes on the feet of her A-list clientele, Mink became a darling of the fashion press and really took off.

Now, Mink shoes are are made in the same Italian factory as the likes of Jimmy Choo and Dolce & Gabbana but remain 100% vegan. Each shoe is constructed by hand from eco-friendly materials including cork, wood, bamboo, and recycled textiles. From disco platforms and fringe sandals to sky high wedges and biker boots, every style is made in small batches to ensure quality and uniqueness. You can even design your own pair through Mink's custom-made program (though, be prepared to shell out $600-$1,200 for made-to-order models). This year, Rebecca has also teamed up with PETA on a cool ballet flat called PETAxMINK. The thoroughly modern, pointy low-heeled number is rendered in faux "ostrich" or smooth "leather" and 20% of sales goes right back to PETA!