The Frustrated Fashionista

What? No leather? No fur? How does a style-loving vegetarian square his shopping sprees with his conscience?

By Lynn Yaeger

"Oh no! This is totally tragic," wails Mickey Boardman, downtown man-about-town. "The Prada robot key ring has leather on it!" Boardman, a.k.a. Mr. Mickey, a.k.a. the Vegetarian Fashionista (or V.F.), is a guy who loves a label, a fellow who likes to deck himself out in the next new thing—as long as it doesn’t bear a trace of leather, suede, fur, or other animal-derived product.
This can be harder than you might think. "The Italians love a leather trim, a furry pom-pom," he says mournfully as we cruise around the Rem Koolhaas-designed Prada store in New York’s SoHo. The key chain—a silly item perhaps, but a Prada must-have this season—is not the only accessory out of bounds: a promising glitzy belt is unfortunately backed in cowhide. Though Boardman briefly fondles an astrakhan cap, he knows that it is, of course, completely out of the question. "I wish it was faux," he muses, his piercing blue eyes turning briefly sorrowful. "I could definitely feature it for, you know, sort of a Hamid Karzai kind of a look." Two minutes later, he is delighted to find a Prada tote made of black nylon and featuring an appliquéd rocket ship, but he’s a little wary of the telltale red Prada strip. "Oh, that’s plastic," says the saleswoman. We’re not so sure...continued.

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Illustration by Robert De Michiell