The Luxury Vegan Footwear Brand Striving For a Better World

By Emily Dawkins

Have you ever considered a vegan alternative that looks just as good as the real thing? Meet Willa Phoenix: an elegant, stylish and cruelty-free footwear and accessories brand. Designed in London and hand-crafted in Italy, Willa Phoenix utilises the finest ethical and animal-free materials to create collections to last a lifetime. sat down with Willa Phoenix Founder Abby Barroll Brown, to delve into this new vegan brand, and how it’s playing its part in contributing to a better, more ethical world.

Vegan footwear brand Willa Phoenix goes above and beyond to create beautiful items with the primary aim of decreasing the impact of the fashion industry on animals. Combining ethical credentials with artistic design is no easy feat, yet this luxury brand achieves just that through its eye-catching heels and complimentary clutch bags. 

Founded in 2021 and officially launching its new website into the luxury industry earlier this year, Willa Phoenix was born from the conscious mindset of Founder Abby: ‘Willa Phoenix came to life as an extension of my lifestyle and my efforts to make more responsible, small, and meaningful yet manageable choices that have a positive impact on animal welfare.’ 

It was the founder’s decision to go vegetarian five years ago that kickstarted the brand and its animal-free, cruelty-free ethos. ‘When I went vegetarian, it started me down a rabbit hole of trying to find various substitutes for things in my life that could be more animal and environmentally friendly and make a difference, whether it's in my medicine cabinet, my makeup bag, my closet or my refrigerator,’ explained Abby, ‘it really just evolved into sustainable fashion.’

With accessibility to vegetarian and vegan food alternatives becoming increasingly widespread, the question is often asked about greener and more ethical alternatives within the fashion industry. Favourably, over recent years the trends have turned to vintage, pre-loved items of clothing and accessories, and it appears that consumers are becoming more concerned than ever before with how their garments are made, where they are made, and what they are made from. As a result, vegan, ethical and sustainable fashion has gone from strength to strength, although high-end luxury items with the same qualities seem to be few and far between. Willa Phoenix, however, combines just that; showcasing that, ‘vegan fashion can walk hand-in-hand with style and elegance.’

Using the finest ethical, animal-free, Vegan Society-approved eco-leather, Abby assured us that it's not just looks that these elegant heels and clutch bags boast, but an ethical background too: ‘we have spent so much time sourcing the finest materials to ensure luxurious shoes which are cruelty-free, but do not compromise on style.’

Each Willa Phoenix item is meticulously hand-crafted in Italy: created by workers at fair wages and excellent conditions. As a brand, Willa Phoenix is committed to fair work ethics and waste reduction. ‘You’re not just paying for the product, you’re paying for what's behind the product,’ emphasised Abby, ‘something that I can say for my products is that they’re all hand-made in Italy, they’re not mass produced in a factory; Willa Phoenix is not fast fashion, but high quality, ethical luxury.’ 

When considering luxury garments and the vast market that they populate, it's not uncommon for designer, high-end brands to take the lead in the latest trends and new styles. Yet, as Abby questioned, why should they? ‘Who decides what luxury is? An industry or a market doesn’t get to decide what luxury is to us as individuals. For me, luxury is whatever I want it to be: I get to decide that. I think if more people can think like that then we would all be seeing a lot more sustainable fashion. Luxury is whatever you make it.’

For the Founder, it’s not just about going ‘cold-turkey’ and never looking back, it's about making small steps as a collective population, to contribute to a greener, healthier and longer-lasting planet: ‘I have learned that ethical choices are something people struggle to manage on a day-to-day basis, and I understand that people can only make those incremental changes if the options are available. If everyone could just make a few changes or choices every day, I believe that is a positive step in the right direction for a more environmentally friendly world.’ 

‘Ultimately, I’m just a normal person trying to do my bit, and I think that that really is what my ethos is with Willa Phoenix: you can be high end, you can be luxury, but you can also be sustainable and ethical. I would love to think that at some point someone will say to me, “I could have a pair of these designer shoes made of real leathers and animals, or I could have a pair of Willa Phoenix and feel just as sexy and fabulous wearing these knowing that they’re ethical.”’

When I evaluated my own wardrobe and its sustainability and ethical credentials, I couldn’t find anything I particularly liked, especially with my shoes, so I decided to try and develop my own,’ explained Abby, as we asked where the passion for an ethical footwear brand stemmed from, ‘I love a good stiletto and a matching clutch, so I started the collection with what staples I think most heel wearing women would want: a black, a nude, an animal print and a great party shoe.’

Launching her first range this year with four stylish heel and clutch bag collections known as, ‘The Kensington’, ‘The Manhattan’, ‘The Miami’, and ‘The Las Vegas’, Abby is excited for the future of Willa Phoenix, and the impact it could have on both the industry and the planet. ‘As the brand grows, I am committed to striving to reduce our impact on the planet and find the most ethical materials for Willa Phoenix’s collections as more vegan options become available and our lines develop.’  

As a new and up-and-coming luxury brand influencing the future of the luxury industry, it is reassuring to hear the ethos behind Willa Phoenix is about making a positive difference incrementally. As Abby highlighted from a good friend’s advice, ‘we don’t have to be perfect all the time, we all just need to strive to be better today than we were yesterday.’ So, why not start with your next pair of glamorous heels and matching clutch?

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Image Credits: Eva Espresso and Rowben Lantion.

"Ultimately, I’m just a normal person trying to do my bit, and I think that that really is what my ethos is with Willa Phoenix: you can be high end, you can be luxury, but you can also be sustainable and ethical."

Abby Barroll Brown, Founder, Willa Phoenix


"Ultimately, I’m just a normal person trying to do my bit, and I think that that really is what my ethos is with Willa Phoenix: you can be high end, you can be luxury, but you can also be sustainable and ethical."

Abby Barroll Brown, Founder, Willa Phoenix
By Emily Dawkins