When you research veganism or take the first steps towards a more eco-friendly lifestyle, the first thing that you are likely to hear about is the food. Avoiding animal products should be easy right? It’s all stated plainly on the packet isn’t it?
Well, not always. Sometimes it takes reading the entirety of an ingredient list only to find a sneaky milk protein in there. Luckily, supermarkets are becoming more aware of the popularity of vegan meals, as so many people are trying to eat this way, at least on a part time basis.
This means that it’s becoming simpler to find the food you want, completely cruelty free.
The same however, can’t be said about our clothes.
After you get what you are eating sorted out, the next logical step is usually what you wear.
And here you don’t always have an ingredients list to read. This is a particular problem with shoes, although more and more brands are emerging that supply 100% vegan shoes.
We’ve created this guide to explain some of the hidden ingredients that aren’t vegan in some of the highstreet brands, and to highlight some brands that offer a cruelty-free alternative.
Vegan shoes and boots are footwear made without the use of any animal products. This includes leather, suede, wool, silk or fur. All of these materials have been sourced through cruelty to animals, and so we don’t believe that they should be used in any product.
A quick way to see if your favorite brand is made from one of these products is by looking at the label on the underside of the shoes.
However, even if the symbol there reads ‘textile’ it is still impossible to say that the shoe is 100% vegan without a label specifically telling you so, or a good dash of internet research.
Traditionally, shoe glue has been made from the collagen of animals, making it a product that isn’t vegan friendly.
While synthetic glues are generally more popular now as they are both cheaper to make and can be stronger, some shoes still use animal-based ones, and it’s impossible to tell which unless it is specifically labelled. This makes shopping for vegan shoes a bit of a pain.
Yet there are loads of vegan shoes brands out there, and some of the big brands also have vegan collections in order to cater to this market.
When there are so many animal materials that shoes are made of, then what are vegan shoes made of? This question comes with a range of answers. Some simple, and some innovative.
Polyurethane is a faux leather made from high quality plastics and is commonly used for the uppers and soles of shoes in different forms.
Some argue that the production of PU is harmful to the environment, however the tanning of leather uses harsh chemicals and masses of water, as well as being from a dead animal, so in this case PU definitely comes out on top.
Vegan brands are continually looking for more environmentally friendly ways to create their products, so I’m sure that waterproof vegan shoes will soon be on the market that don’t contain PU.
Cotton is a soft and breathable material that makes great vegan shoes for summer. Organic cotton is a wonderful renewable resource.
Due to its comfort, it is a popular material for vegan shoes for women, and in vegan shoes for work wear. It is difficult to waterproof however, which can be a downside.
Natural rubber comes from the rubber tree and is commonly used in vegan shoes for men as the soles of the shoes. It is very environmentally friendly and can be recycled.
This means that some vegan shoe brands go that step further and only use recycled rubber for their soles. It is a great, versatile material that is long-lasting and 100% cruelty-free!
Cork has become a fashionable material for vegan shoes, as it is organic and natural. It has a lot of attractive benefits for its use, including being lightweight as well as fire-resistant.
It is a popular choice for vegan wedges and vegan sandals as it is breathable and has anti-bacterial properties. It gives a shoe that all-natural look that people love.
Here at LaBante, ethically made, vegan clothing is really important to us, which is why all of our own handbags are 100% vegan and cruelty-free. We try to use recycled materials as much as possible, as well as the faux leather that gives our products that luxurious look.
As a brand that only deals in vegan items, we wanted to show you our favorite vegan shoe brands as well. All of the brands here are fully vegan, so you know that you are safe purchasing any product from them.
We are a little bit obsessed with the shoes at Bhava. Not only for their range (which is absolutely incredible) but for their dedication in changing the way that people think about shoes. They are all about comfort, but this doesn’t mean ditching the heels.
For Bhava, this means heels that you can walk all day in. Looking for vegan shoes with arch support may seem like a big ask, but not for this US owned company.
Not only are they 100% vegan, they are also ethically produced, ensuring that their workers are fairly paid and manufacturing under good conditions. Being vegan means being against cruelty to all animals, including humans, after all.
We particularly love their strappy sandals, which are perfect for summer and have an elegant look that means they are a great vegan shoe for work.
Rafa is a must for anyone looking vegan shoes made in the US. Based in Los Angeles, their ‘suede’ shoes really do look like leather.
They are so similar that if it wasn’t for the fact that they advertise as 100% vegan, we’d have a hard time believing it ourselves. It’s actually made of a material that is 80% recycled plastic bottles.
These shoes are definitely on the more expensive side; however, their made-to-order option is amazing, providing you with exactly the shoe that you want, without having to worry if it’s in stock.
There are committed to making all of their products within LA, which is something that’s really rare for any manufacturer. They also use reclaimed wood in the heels of their shoes to be as sustainable as possible.
Keep make vegan shoes and trainers with nature at their heart. Supremely comfortable, they love using a herringbone pattern, so that even their shoes without bright colors express themselves.
They are also surprisingly affordable, and it’s really hard to pick one favorite out of their range. As they are designed for both comfort and style, they are more likely to be suitable vegan shoes for wide feet.
Keep also want their shoes to be long-lasting. Something that you keep for years, and not something that is thrown away as soon as you’ve had them a few months.
Alongside this, none of their shoes are made in large batches, to prevent any waste. So, if you see a shoe of theirs you like, you’ll need to pick it up fast.
Some of the big-name brands have seen the demand for vegan shoes and launched their own vegan collections alongside their regular offerings.
Other brands are ‘accidentally vegan’. Accidentally or not, it’s good news to us!
Many of Nike’s shoes are in fact completely vegan friendly, as they have banished the animal-based glues. This means that once you have checked the label for other animal materials, you can be sure to know what you’re buying. That’s definitely a tick from us.
Many of Vans' canvas shoes are vegan, which is good news for high-tops lovers everywhere! This is another brand that has opted for a vegan shoe glue, so if you’re one of those people who wore exclusively Vans for the entirety of your teenage years, then there’s no need to give them up now.
TOMS has a vegan section on its website, so we don’t really need to say any more! From men’s classic shoes, to women’s wedges and pumps, the brand has diversified into cruelty-free footwear that is classic and fashionable.
Adidas’ classic Stan Smith has had a vegan upgrade for quite a while now. Designed by Stella McCartney, she suggested the collaboration after considering how many animals lives would be saved if the trainer manufacturer switched to vegan leather. Her 2019 creation even features 4D technology.
So, there you have it, LaBante London’s guide to everything vegan shoe related.
There are a lot more options out there that you may think at first, and while it’s always important to double check, there really isn’t any reason that we can’t avoid cruelty to animals in everything that we buy!