“Oh, what do you like reading? Fiction, non-fiction, science fiction?”
When you first go vegan, it can feel like a lot of your life is spent reading labels. Cleaning products are scoured for animal ingredients and if they test on animals. Nutrition labels on sauces, dips, and dressings are scanned at the grocery store before going in the cart. The labels on sweaters and coats need to be checked for wool. The interior of shoes and purses are proofread for leather.
When it comes to food and household goods, eventually you find products that you know are vegan. You know which pasta sauce to buy, which bread, which pizza crust, which dishwashing liquid. Going to the grocery store requires less and less reading as the years pass. Plus, you become something of a label reading superhero – able to pinpoint whey in a single glance.
But when it comes to clothing, shoes, and accessories, the need for label reading doesn’t wane. When I’m inspecting a pullover and searching for the little sewn-in tag to find out if it’s made from bunny’s fur, goat’s hair, or sheep’s wool, I wonder if other shoppers are wondering why I’m going all Sherlock Holmes on the sweaters.
That’s why it’s always a joy to visit fully vegan stores. The need for label reading disappears, and I can put my focus on the task at hand – perusing colors, textures, and styles, checking for fit and comfort.
So when my husband and I were in Los Angeles a few weeks ago, I visited Alternative Outfitters in Pasadena to pick up a pair of shoes for him. He was there for work and spending a lot of time on his feet. His favorite vegan Earth shoes were wearing down, and he needed something that would look nice enough for his casual work environment and comfortable enough that he could stand for hours on end.
I picked up a pair of black Deer Stags for David, which were both comfortable for long hours of standing and stylish too. Just to be extra safe, I added an extra shoe insert into them for even more padding.
When we lived in Los Angeles, our apartment was only about fifteen minutes away from Pasadena, and it was a place I visited often to pick up things in Old Town or get groceries at their two-level Whole Foods (with an escalator and everything). When I needed new shoes, Alternative Outfitters was the first place that I looked for something reasonably priced, comfortable, and attractive.
The brick and mortar Pasadena location of Alternative Outfitters is open weekdays with appointments available on the weekends. They do most of their business online; however, they have a small showroom attached to their warehouse, which is about a half mile off of the main strip in Old Town.
In the showroom they have accessories like purses, wallets, and belts neatly laid out in addition to beauty products, shoes, and a few shirts. In the winter months they carry light winter coats, gloves, and a nice collection of boots. (I got the above pair from them almost three years ago, and I still get compliments on them.)
Since it’s a showroom rather than a typical store, they have all of their items out on display, and then you ask for your particular size to be plucked from the warehouse. After you make your selection, you move into the warehouse area to pay for your purchases at their work desk.
After we moved away from the area, Alternative Outfitters became even more of a prized resource, as the vegan options in our town are more limited. For their Facebook fans, they often advertise specials and offer discounts on items. I can just check out their options online, order, and have them delivered to my door.
Alternative Outfitters is located at 408 S Pasadena Ave, Suite 1 in Pasadena, California. Their showroom is open Monday through Friday from 11 am to 4:30 pm.