PTBFR Allergy: Wha?
December 2, 2011 4:19 PM   Subscribe

I have just found out I am allergic to paratertiary butylphenol formaldehyde resin (PTBFR). Now what am I supposed to wear on my feet?

After eight months of blistering, cracking, bleeding palms and as many months of various ineffective treatments ranging from steroids to bleach baths, I finally got an allergy patch test and discovered that I am highly allergic to the multisyllabic PTBFR, an adhesive for leather and rubber. My dermatologist sent me to a website that lists PTBFR-free shoes, but this site just doesn't address the kinds of shoes and accessories I need/want to have (i.e., I don't work in a place in which Sperry Top-Siders would be considered "dress shoes"). I called a bunch of companies that make the products I use--Donald Pliner, Coach, Kate Spade, Tumi, etc.--but I couldn't reach anyone who could tell me whether their stuff contains PTBFR and I couldn't find much on the interwebs either. The instructions from the dermatologist say "Wear shoes made of vinyl, polyurethane, silicone, canvas, or plastic, and use purses made of plastic or vinyl." Am I going to wind up looking like Dora the Explorer? Are there any MeFites out there who are familiar with this allergy? Do all of my black leather boots have to go? All my high heels? Would microfiber stuff work? Where do I find "professional" purses and briefcases that are made of plastic or vinyl? I am watching a professional wardrobe that took more than a decade to accumulate go down the drain! Any advice from the magnificent Hive Mind would be, as always, greatly appreciated.
posted by fiery.hogue to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
A lot of vegans have been in your position.


1.) Chinese Laundry carries some cute shoes which are not made of leather.

2.) Marc Jacobs makes several excellent all-nylon totes.

3.) Muji has good professional laptop, tote and luggage options, although their online selection is somewhat limited.

4.) Prada has good all-nylon purses.

5.) For sandals, jute is an excellent option.

Stella McCartney isn't worth the splurge-- quality-wise, her stuff doesn't hold up.
posted by devymetal at 5:05 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

My boyfriend is not a cobbler, but he is a leatherworker, and this is the adhesive he uses for bags (PDF of MSDS for Tanners Bond contact cement). You may be able to find handmade/artisan leatherwork that's made with this or similar, and not have to sacrifice having nice things. FWIW, these pieces often aren't as much as you think. Etsy has some leatherwork of varying quality and if you hunt, the good makers will do commissions too.
posted by fiercecupcake at 5:07 PM on December 2, 2011

Also, Kenneth Cole makes high-heeled boots that are of all man-made materials, same with some of their other accessories.
posted by devymetal at 5:09 PM on December 2, 2011

I'd try Fluevog. Their glues are water-based, according to their website (but I don't know if it is free of this specific chemical). They also have some vegan shoes made of synthetic material, which are really nice. You could contact them and see if the glue they use is free of PTBFR. Bonus: their shoes are awesome.
posted by bedhead at 5:20 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Modcloth has a ton of fashionable non-leather shoes and purses. I would say that more than half of their shoe selection is non leather. Just hover over an item, click on "quick look" and then click on the details tab. They also have free returns and exchanges.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 5:35 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

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