The utilitarian philosopher Peter Singer once asked: “If you would save a child from drowning in a pond, even if it meant ruining your expensive shoes, then shouldn’t you also save a child from drowning in poverty, for the cost of your expensive shoes?” To Singer, refusing to save a drowning child is as disgraceful from the moral point of view as refusing to donate $100 to charity. These days it is easy to save lives in less developed countries, and, in the words of Singer, we, as consumers, are all culprits to having the cash and spending it on luxuries instead of donating to the destitute.*
As much as I admire Singer, I am less prone to this black-and-white way of thinking, and I believe in seeking ways to marry our desires and our ethics. One good example is the recent shoe collaboration between the model philanthropist Natalia Vodianova with Centro, which is like a Russian H&M, with all the profits going to the Naked Heart Foundation – the charity building playgrounds and parks for special needs children in Russia.
Natalia’s story is that of Cinderella: she grew up in a poor neighbourhood of Gorky (Russia) with her mother, and her two half-sisters, one with cerebral palsy. In her attempt to help her family out of poverty, she sold fruit and vegetables on the street. Natalia’s shoe collection is aptly named Fairytale, and those crystal-studded crowns in the back definitely stole my heart.
There is no fooling yourself into thinking that the world could be saved through consumerism but there is definitely a big draw in guilt-free (at least, guilt-reduced) shopping.
Russian It-Girls wearing Natalia’s collection at Paris Fashion Week.
These shoes demand to be paraded with a pair of exquisite fishnets which I obligingly demonstrate below – overposed and overexposed but still me.
The Fairytale Collection comes in 2 colours, doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, and can be found on Net-a-Porter. They are shipped in very nice packaging with black ribbons and crowns.
As you can see in the picture, these also come in small sizes, unlike many other collections – I am looking at you, Caroline Issa. I honestly wonder what she was thinking when she designed her collection for LK Bennett? Note of advice: if you make shoes with yellow and pink pompoms, your main target audience is women with size 2 and 3 feet.
*Whether you agree with Peter Singer, his book The Life You Can Save is always an interesting read – find the first chapter in The New York Times.
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