Quality vegan shoes are made from plant-based leather. Not all leather is yet fully biodegradable, but it’s certainly less polluting than leather, which is not usually a by-product of the meat industry (most shoes are also made in the Far East, where there are little or no animal welfare laws). Most vegan shoes are easy to clean, just use a damp cloth or dubbin shoe polish (you can clean shoes by rubbing them with the inside of a banana peel).
Most vegan shoes are still only sold online. So visit a shoe shop to get your feet measured, to save the hassle of returns. These shops have good returns policies (but don’t wear the shoes outside, or you’ll null the guarantee).
Everyday Vegan Shoes
- Wills Vegan Shoes (London) offers beautiful affordable ethical footwear for men and women, sent in zero waste packaging. This company also sells vegan bags, satchels & vegan knitwear.
- Vegetarian Shoes (Brighton) has an extensive online shop (and retail store) and offers a wide range of shoes including safety shoes. The owner used to make shoes, but now has them ethically made in Europe.
- Ethical Wares (Wales) has been making quality vegan shoes for years, and offers sneakers, safety shoes & dancing shoes. Profits help to provide food for their rescued barnyard friends.
Handmade Vegan Shoes
- Freerangers (Newcastle) makes shoes by hand in many styles and colours. These are expensive but good quality, each pair signed by the maker. They will last for years, and you can send them back for re-soling. Also makes vegan bags, belts and sporrans.
- Beyond Skin offers luxury shoes and boots, handmade in Europe with sustainable materials and sent in luxury eco gift boxes. These are the alternative to designer shoes, and you can also find bridal shoes.
Sustainable & Stylish Sneakers
If buying sneakers with synthetic materials (including recycled plastic), wash in a microfiber catch bag, to stop microplastics breaking off in the machine, and reaching the sea. Even more important with sneakers, as the bashing around in the machine, is likely to release more. Avoid sneakers or sports shoes made with K-leather (kangaroo leather, the mothers are killed, often with the joeys still in the pouch, or otherwise left to starve).
- Komodo Grey Eco Sneakers are super comfy and stylish, with simple white laces and a pull-tab detail. The upper is made from organic cotton, with rubber (partly recycled soles). Sent in a cardboard box, they are made in Sri Lanka, with 1% profits helping to restore rainforest homes for orangutans.
- Ethletic is a German brand of sneakers that you can buy online. In trainers or ankle-boots, these look like those Converse boots you see. In several colours, they are made with organic and Fair Trade cotton, with FSC-certified rubber soles. Almost every material is ecologically-certified, so you can wear these shoes with a clean conscience.
- NAE (stands for ‘no animal exploitation) is a Portuguese company that has its own range of sneakers. The range includes cork (no trees are cut down), recycled PET (recovered plastic, see above re washing) and waterproof Microfiber.
Vegan Shoes for children
- Ten Little (North America) is a new brand made from quality vegan leather. These have been designed with foot doctors to follow the natural shape of the foot, to allow for ‘wiggle room’ as your child’s feet grow. You may wish to avoid the ‘fun stickers’ to go on them, as they won’t biodegrade if they fall off, but the shoes look good.
- Pediped offers quality vegan children’s shoes, recommended by foot doctors. Many feature quick-dry EVA footbeds and breathable neoprene lining, with Velcro closures.
- Little Vegan Boutique offers nice styles, as natural to barefoot health as possible. These are gorgeous little booties in fun colours & styles.
- Wills Vegan Shoes (London) makes shoes for boys and girls, mostly with Velcro straps, slip-on and lack-up black shoes (good for school). Sent in zero waste packaging.
- Ikiki offers unique shoes in mismatched sizes, and for special needs (low muscle tone, chemo-induced walking issues, children who walk with braces and cerebral palsy. You can order without the squeakers, if concerned of the risk of choking.