I am trying to avoid wearing leather these days. Are there any brands making fashion-forward faux-leather purses and shoes?
Did you know that every pair of shoes and every bag from Stella McCartney is vegan? Her leather lookalikes and suede substitutes are so convincing to the touch that you might have trouble believing she uses no materials derived from animals, but it's true. The catch is that her pieces are typically as expensive as other (non-vegan) designer offerings (upwards of $1,100 for a chaintrimmed faux-leather shoulder bag or $700 for "snake effect" faux-leather loafers).
Alternatively, the Neuaura line offers various footwear styles – moccasins, dressy flats, wedge boots – made of eco-conscious, non-animal materials for a fraction of McCartney's prices. And certain casual street brands such as Dr. Martens and Superga sneakers also offer vegan footwear (it helps when the primary materials are rubber and cotton).
Lastly, a faux-leather foldover shoulder bag or cork carryall by the Canadian handbag company Matt & Nat are also attractive options. Having said all that, finding good non-animal footwear in the stores can be a big challenge, so don't be too hard on yourself if you can't find shoes that fit both your style and your ideology.