In January, actress Katie Holmes was photographed by paparazzi on the streets of New York wearing a pair of black vegan leather boots.
The shoes created by a sustainable vegan footwear brand were spotted by Vogue editors and added to their must-have wishlist.
Black Charli AERA vegan boots are now becoming one of the brand's bestsellers during the Covid-19 pandemic. With their universal style, the flat shoes look great paired with jeans and a dress, making them ideal for any occasion.
"When someone like Katie Holmes is wearing your shoes consistently, it gives you another level of credibility as a young start-up," AERA CEO and co-founder Tina Bhojwani told Vogue.
"Those boots are really comfortable — I think now we're seeking comfort more than ever."
AERA launched in February 2020 with a mission to create vegan footwear that will set up new sustainable standards for luxury vegan footwear.
"I only [wanted to create] vegan shoes if they didn't look vegan," Bhojwani explained. She said she noticed the lack of options on the market.
"In my mind, vegan shoes didn't correlate with luxury style and design."
Before the pandemic, AERA offered mainly high heels. However, during the pandemic, the shoes' design changed to apply more to customers' needs. "The new styles [are aimed] towards the mood we're living in today," Bhojwani continued.
The brand makes eco-friendly vegan shoes and avoids synthetic materials whenever possible. The shoes are crafted by local artisans in the Veneto region, Italy. They are made from bio-based materials such as cotton, viscose and non-edible field corn with recycled synthetics.
"The dream was to have 100 per cent bio-based materials, but after much research, we realised that isn't possible yet," Bhojwani said. "I do think there will be that opportunity in the future."
The company offsets its environmental impact (carbon, water, and plastic) by 110 per cent through investing in certified reforestation, water restoration and recycling.
"We've measured every impact throughout the entire process using a third-party agency," Bhojwani said. "We want to mindfully give back more than we're taking."