UPDATE 2015-12-30: 100% VEGAN GAYNOR MINDEN POINTE SHOES ARE NOW AVAILABLE! This vegan option is not yet available through their website, so you need to either email them firstname.lastname@example.org or call them 1-800-637-9240 to request the custom vegan sole. It costs an extra US$10, and takes an additional 3 to 4 weeks to make. It is not returnable or refundable. But it is VEGAN! I'm so happy I'm crying right now. Please share this information with other vegan and animal-loving ballerinas, and order your own pair today! Let's show GM that their efforts to provide a cruelty-free vegan pointe shoe is celebrated and appreciated. Thank you to Dorothy for sharing this information. :) Happy Vegan Dancing to all! --Susan
UPDATE 2015-04-29: I recently found out that Gaynor Minden's synthetic pointe shoe sole is NOT vegan. The glue is vegan, but the sole is made from a composite material that contains about 5% leather. HOWEVER, through my correspondence with them, they are currently taking my comments about making a 100% vegan sole under "serious consideration"! Please send them a polite and encouraging message through social media or email email@example.com to help nudge them further in this direction. The people at Gaynor Minden that I've been corresponding with have been very understanding, honest, and kind, and I think it would be helpful for them to hear from other animal-loving and vegan dancers. I'm planning to write a whole new post soon, but since that might be a while, I thought I'd get this information up right away. I'm sorry for any confusion...I really am trying my best to pass on accurate information. I'll continue to post updates as I get them, and would greatly appreciate additional information anyone obtains on this issue. Thank you so much, fellow vegan dancers. <3 --Susan
Grishko, Capezio, and Cynthia King Dance Studio are companies that offer vegan ballet shoes. Gaynor Minden offers a custom sole which is 95% synthetic and 5% leather as an alternative to their standard all-leather sole; HOWEVER, as of April 2015, they are seriously considering offering a 100% synthetic sole.
I’ve worn Grishko canvas ballet slippers for years, so I was thrilled to learn that they offer cruelty-free vegan versions! They are made at the Grishko facility in Moscow, Russia by the same artisans who craft their non-vegan shoes. Custom vegan cellulose soles are available on all canvas ballet slippers, and on select pointe shoes (2007, 2007 Pro, 2007 ProFlex, Miracle, Maya, Elite Pre-Pointe, and Nova). Grishko pointe shoes are made with non-animal-based and non-toxic glue. More information on vegan shoes can found in Grishko’s May 2011 Newsletter.
I ordered my vegan Grishko ballet slippers from the Mission Viejo, CA, USA location of Discount Dance Supply (24451 Alicia Pkwy, Suite 9A, Mission Viejo, CA 92691, located in a strip mall just north of the 5 Freeway, phone 949-770-7107). Ask to speak with Assistant Manager Hollie; she’s super nice and helpful, and is up to speed with ordering vegan shoes. It’s a US$10 premium for the custom vegan soles on ballet slippers, so the price for my Performance Model 6 came to US$38 (the non-vegan ones cost US$28). Hollie told me it would take 6-8 weeks, and mine arrived in just over 6 weeks. I believe the premium for vegan Grishko pointe shoes is US$20 (all prices as of February 2014).
The slippers came with elastics attached at the heel (two per shoe, one on each side), so I just had to trim, sear, and sew down the loose ends. The vegan cellulose soles feel astonishingly like leather, and have a nice grippy-ness (is that a real word?)…not too slippery and not too sticky on marley floors. I must disclose that I'm just an avid recreational dancer. I am not and have never been a professional dancer (and at my age, probably never will be -- but hey, I can still dream! :P ).
Capezio also offers a custom vegan sole on their Juliet canvas ballet slipper. I ordered these through the Capezio Theatrical Department in New York, NY, USA ( firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 212-245-2152) in August of 2013, and they arrived in about 7 weeks. The person who helped me was Maggie, and she was also very nice and helpful. The cost for the vegan Capezio Juliet slippers was US$60, compared to US$22 for their non-vegan ones. The Juliet is one of their most popular models, but my foot just fits and feels better in the Grishkos. Choice of ballet slippers often comes down to personal preference.
Another company that offers vegan ballet slippers is Cynthia King Dance Studio in Brooklyn, NY, USA (phone 718-437-0101). They have one model available in three colors: peach pink, pastel pink, and black. The cost is US$24.95, and they can be ordered directly from their website. Artistic Director Cynthia King, an ethical vegan and animal lover, is a professional dancer and choreographer who trained at the Boston Conservatory and The Ailey School.
Gaynor Minden offers a synthetic urethane sole on their pointe shoes (NOT 100% vegan as it currently contains about 5% leather; however, as of April 2015 they are seriously considering changing it to be 100% vegan. See the 2015-04-29 UPDATE at the top of this post), per an email I received from one of their Senior Fitters, Karen, in July of 2013. You can email email@example.com to get information on how to order shoes with the synthetic sole, as this option is not currently available through their website.
I'm so happy to see established, highly-regarded companies in the dance world supporting the needs of their animal-loving customers. Check out this video for how cows might frolic whenever a dancer chooses to dance in vegan shoes instead of leather ones!
Thanks for reading. Peace and love to all who live.
2014-08-17 UPDATE: Another advantage of vegan canvas ballet slippers is that because they contain no leather, they are machine-washable (I was just talking about this with my friends Sharon and Kris in ballet class)! I throw mine right in the washing machine, but I don't put them in the dryer. They take about two days to air dry, so be sure to have an extra pair on hand if you take class often. --Susan