Mirco Scoccia, the founder and CEO of luxury vegan shoe and fashion brand O2 Monde, recently sat down with PETA Prime to share why he will never use leather or any other animal-derived materials to produce his company’s products. Here’s what we found out:
What is your favorite thing about running an all-vegan fashion company?
There are quite a few things I love and am proud of about running a vegan shoe brand like O2 Monde. First and foremost, there’s the fact that no animals are harmed in the process of making a pair of shoes. This also means avoiding the environmental perils associated with the production of leather—including child labor, forced labor, unsustainable material choices, environmentally destructive production methods, and poor design choices that make it difficult to get shoes recycled. This is so important to me, as I am also trying to use the most sustainable production methods and ethical practices, so every shoe is both 100% vegan and the most eco-conscious choice.
What has been the biggest obstacle to starting a vegan company?
As soon as I started researching new, innovative materials, I became connected with many forward-thinking people who are trying to change the industry (and you cannot imagine the amount of effort and passion that goes into the research stage of making new materials!). On the other side, I had to struggle with factories in Italy, as their traditional way of making shoes has always been by only using leather. I spent a lot of time educating them on how to use vegan materials the proper way in order to get the same (or better!) result as with leather made from animals. We tested every single vegan and plant-based material we’re using in the collection. The final result was quite shocking to them, as they realized that you can make design-driven shoes that are luxurious and leather-free. That was my biggest reward!
How have consumers embraced your product line?
We’re so unbelievably lucky at O2 Monde to be embraced and surrounded by such a loving, kind, and amazing community of supporters, customers, and friends, whom we consider our tribe! We have returning customers who just love our staples in the collection and truly appreciate both the quality of the shoes and the mission behind the brand.
Which of your products are you most excited to share with others?
All of our shoes made with the latest plant-based materials, as they are the most sustainable ones in the collection. And we have quite a few! Like the Wood Collection—made of real wood, which is vegan and sustainable. Our Piñatex line is made with pineapple leaf fibers. The Cactus designs are made using a highly sustainable vegan cactus leather. And the most innovative is our Wine Collection—crafted exclusively from wine industry leftovers, using water-free processes that are free of the toxic chemicals used in traditional leather tanning.
What do you think will be the most exciting trend in the vegan fashion world next year?
I’m really optimistic here and pretty confident that wearing and eating animals will soon be a thing of the past. Fashion will have to adapt itself to this major change. There’s a lot of research going on in exploring alternatives to traditional leather. New materials are becoming available, and they are not only animal-free but also more sustainable and made by recycling other materials to reduce waste and save energy. With more options available, I think more fashion companies will start introducing vegan pieces to their collections. You can already see the shift in bigger luxury companies that have banned fur and exotics. And this is just the beginning!
How do you share your compassion for animals with those who aren’t as animal-friendly?
By showing everyone that it’s possible to make fashionable shoes that don’t harm humans, other animals, or the environment. Through a collection of blog posts on our website—called the Journal—I am also trying to spread awareness and explain how unsustainable and completely unnecessary it is to use animal skins in fashion. We often cover topics about compassionate practices and speak enthusiastically about the innovative, eco-friendly vegan materials used in our O2 Monde collections (“The Wood Collection,” “From Cactus to … Leather,” “When Life Gives You Grapes …,” etc.).
Any advice for someone wanting to start a vegan business?
Be mindful of the choices you make and the impact you have. Focus on solutions, and always be authentic. Create something that you would want to buy yourself. Also, remember that starting something of your own comes with high highs and low lows—and that’s life, too. Entrepreneurship is often overhyped, but start-ups also come with heavy responsibilities—and it can be hard. I had a difficult time when planning the initial launch of O2 Monde in 2020. The global pandemic had just started, and it knocked my plans upside down. I had to put my project on hold for over a year. But you have to stay strong, be flexible, focus on your mission—and never stop dreaming!