The Complete Guide to Sustainable and Stylish Vegan Shoes
Tread ethically and in style. | Adidas

On the hunt for sustainable, stylish vegan shoes? Look no further because we’ve got some of the best ethical fashion brands that are rethinking design and putting some vegan sole into modern shoes.

Sustainable Footwear

As awareness of our own impact upon the planet increases, so does the understanding that living kindly extends far beyond the pantry. Ethical purchasing also has a bearing upon what cleaning brands we use, what cosmetics we slather on, and of course, what we wear. In particular, what we wear on our feet.

Although more people have been exploring synthetic wool sweaters and seeking silken alternatives, it is shoes that dominate the vegan fashion industry. According to a 2019 study published by retail technology and data company Edited, shoes account for 73 percent of vegan fashion buys.

Humans started slipping shoes on around 40,000 years ago, according to research published in the Journal of Archaeological Science. Over the centuries, shoes have featured a variety of materials, from woven papyrus in ancient Egypt to wooden clogs in Holland. But animal leather has been the primary material of choice for feet due to its hard wearing and waterproof qualities. Until now.

The Rise of Vegan Leather

In much the same way that food companies like Beyond Meat have developed plant-based versions of edible animal-products, fashion companies like Veerah, Stella McCartney, and Marks and Spencers are all flying the flag for plant-based leather.

In 2017, business firm Grand View Research predicted that the global faux leather market will hit $85 billion by 2025.  

The number of materials that can be used to replace cowhide is mind-blowing. German brand ZVNDER creates its suede-like leather out of mushrooms. Cruelty-free company Ananas Anam has created its own signature leather, Piñatex, from pineapple leaf fiber. Innovative company Malai crafts its flexible vegan leather out of coconut waste.

These new developments in plant-based leather all rely upon abundant and sustainable raw ingredients. In the case of both Malai and Piñatex, the new industry actually reduces pollution by utilizing products that would otherwise be discarded.

This is in stark contrast to traditional cow leather. According to a 2017 study that looked at the fourteen most common textiles used in fashion, it has the greatest cradle to gate environmental impact. The study showed that cow leather production is especially harmful in terms of eutrophication and water scarcity.

Until these pioneering textile developments, designers almost exclusively made vegan leather from Polyurethane (PU) or Polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Both of these rely upon fossil fuels for their polymer coatings. The move towards plant-based fabrics is truly a whole new chapter in vegan clothing. An added bonus is that in the hackneyed desert island scenario, some of these shoes sound delicious.  

22 Eco-Friendly Vegan Shoes

Of course, different shoes suit different occasions. Thanks to new innovations within the fashion world, there is always a vegan shoe that fits. Here are 22 vegan-friendly shoe brands that are as sustainable as they are stylish.

Snag a pair of these boots. | Beyond Skin

1. Beyond Skin

For day to day vegan shoes, you can’t get much better than this Spanish shoe company. Selling everything from pumps to stilettos, the company has been serving vegan and vegetarian feet since 2011 at affordable prices. The brand still relies upon PU, but when compared with producing cow leather, it feels “PU is clearly the less of two evils.” Snag a pair of the company’s faux leather ankle boots.

Check it out here.

The Complete Guide to Sustainable and Stylish Vegan Shoes
These vegan sneakers are made from grapes. | Pangaia

2. The PANGAIA Sneaker

Lightweight, breathable, and ultra-comfortable, PANGAIA’s vegan sneakers are made from grape leather and industry waste. They feature a recycled rubber sole, natural cotton laces, and are held together by a bio-based water glue.

Check it out here.

The Complete Guide to Sustainable and Stylish Vegan Shoes
Will’s Vegan Shoes provide affordable faux-leather boots. | Will’s Vegan Store

3. Will’s Vegan Shoes

This London-based company has an extensive range of footwear and caters equally for men and women. The vegan brand was founded in 2012 by Will Green and uses man-made faux leather in its dock boots, work boots, and Chelsea boots.

Check it out here.

Old school footwear brand Vegetarian Shoes is vegan. | Vegetarian Shoes

4. Vegetarian Shoes 

Established in the 1990s, long before the term “vegan” was being widely used, this company sells an impressive assortment of plant-based boots. From hiking to caribou, combat to action. Most of the company’s products contain PU, but Vegetarian Shoes also uses hemp, Piñatex, and a 70 to 80 percent biodegradable material called Vegetan.

Along with its own stylish designs, Vegetarian Shoes also provides vegan versions of iconic brands. The company’s “Airseal” boots, which come in a variety of colors, are dead ringers for Doc Martens and you can probably guess what “Snug” boots resemble. Unlike their sheepskin muse, the Snug boots are made of synthetic suede and have a rubber and cork sole.

Check it out here.

The Complete Guide to Sustainable and Stylish Vegan Shoes
Doc Martens has vegan options. | Doc Martens

5. Doc Martens

Those who prefer the real McCoy when it comes to what they put on their feet can purchase faux leather Doc Martens online or in select stores.

Check out Doc Martens’ vegan range here.

The Complete Guide to Sustainable and Stylish Vegan Shoes
The company’s new vegan shoes feature recycled materials. | Nike

6. Nike

In February, Nike released a new vegan shoe collection made from recycled trash—including recycled plastic bottles and factory waste. According to Nike, the new “Space Hippie” vegan sneakers have the lowest carbon footprint scores of any shoe created by the brand so far.

Check it out here.

German brand nat-2 makes vegan shoes using innovative materials. | Nat-2

7. Nat-2

Munich-based company Nat-2 offers the latest innovation in plant-based shoes from a sixth-generation shoe designer, Sebastian Thies. Since its launch in 2007, Nat-2 has been making vegan sneakers out of ecologically sourced materials such as coffee grounds and mushrooms. Along with its Funghi and Coffee lines, the company uses recycled cardboard and paper in all its packaging.

Check it out here.

The Complete Guide to Sustainable and Stylish Vegan Shoes
Veja makes its vegan shoes from sustainable materials. | Veja

8. Veja

Earlier this year, this luxury shoe brand launched the vegan CAMPO sneaker range, made from corn leather. The company took five years to develop the new leather, which is up to 63 percent biodegradable. In July, the company revealed the launch of new vegan sneakers, called Urca, made from food waste.  

Check it out here.

Adidas produced a limited line of vegan sneakers made from ocean salvaged plastic
Adidas produced a limited line of vegan sneakers made from ocean salvaged plastic

9. Adidas

Europe’s largest sportswear manufacturer, Adidas, took environmental fashion to the next level last year when it crafted a sports shoe from ocean-salvaged plastic. Each pair of the simple yet stylish sport shoes, complete with woven overlay, contains the equivalent of 12 plastic bottles worth of waste. Adidas created the trendsetting shoe in collaboration with non-profit organization Parley for the Oceans and released 7,000 pairs of the limited-edition sneaker.

Check it out here.

Stella McCartney makes sustainable vegan shoes

10. Stella McCartney

In 2019, this luxury veggie fashion brand—founded by sustainable designer Stella McCartney, a pioneer of ethical fashion—launched a Beatles-inspired clothing collection featuring vegan sneakers. The brand offers gorgeous evening shoes made from plant-based leather and recyclable materials.

Check it out here.

Veerah luxury vegan heels

11. Veerah

Founded by Stacey Chang in 2016, this sustainable fashion brand specializes in luxury vegan shoes. Adding to the incredible plant-based leathers on the market, Veerah launched its own fabric named Veerah Appeel made of apple skins in 2017.

Check it out here.

MINK makes glamorous vegan shoes

12. MINK

If you’re looking for something really classy and upmarket, MINK makes couture vegan stilettos in a private Italian factory, where Louboutin and Dior shoes are also made. All of the materials used are cruelty-free and the brand is loved by vegan celebrities including Pamela Anderson and Miley Cyrus. According to its website, “each MINK product has the passion of luxury and the compassion we demand for animals.”

Check it out here.

Sydney Brown uses materials like cork, wool, and rubber

13. Sydney Brown

Sydney Brown’s vegan shoes are kind to humans, the animals, and the environment, according to its website. It aims to make sustainable, eco-friendly shoes with a wide range of materials including cork, wood, and rubber. Its website notes, “each component of the shoe is carefully developed to fit with the brand’s ethos, utilizing recycled and sustainable materials. Every season we strive to improve and develop these further.”

Check it out here.

Rothys sustainable vegan shoes are made from recycled materials

14. Rothys

All of Rothys shoes are made with recycled single-use plastic. According to the brand’s website, since it started three years ago, it has recycled more than 20 million plastic bottles and turned them into sustainable footwear. Styles include The Loafer, The Flat, The Point, and The Sneaker.

Check it out here.

Family-owned brand Ballūta is vegan

15. Ballūta

Founded by longtime vegan Catarina Pedroso, Ballūta makes shoes out of recycled polyamide in a family-run factory in Portugal. Ballūta believes the future of fashion is “circular.” It is dedicated to developing “trans-seasonal timeless footwear” to combat fast fashion.

Check it out here.

Converse has vegan options

16. Converse

Made with canvas and rubber, many of Converse’s sneakers are vegan-friendly. In 2018, it partnered with vegan musician Miley Cyrus who created a series of collections for the brand. Cyrus launched the Pride Converse collection, donating all net proceeds to organizations that help vulnerable LGBTQ+ youth. In December, the company also partnered with faux fur brand Shrimps, incorporating the vegan material onto the back of each design from the collection.

Check it out here.

Kat Von D makes alternative vegan footwear

17. Von D Shoes

Last year, vegan activist, beauty entrepreneur, and tattoo artist Kat Von D announced the launch of a vegan line of shoes. The Instagram account for the brand notes that a wide variety of cruelty-free heels, wedges, platforms, and boots will be available to purchase very soon.

Check it out here.

Canadian brand Call It Spring went vegan in Spring 2019

18. Call It Spring

Quebec-based shoe brand Call It Spring went vegan in March 2019 in response to consumer demand. “[We] noticed a growing demand for vegan footwear, particularly over the last few years as veganism has become increasingly adopted,” states the website. All future collections will be free from animal products going forward.

Check it out here.

The Complete Guide to Sustainable and Stylish Vegan Shoes
The collection launches in October. | Pīferi

19. Pīferi

After making a name for himself as a lead designer at top fashion brands like Jimmy Choo and Burberry, Alfredo Pīferi is launching his own namesake vegan luxury shoe collection, called Pīferi. The brand features sustainable materials like recycled nylon, polyester, and plastic bottles. The line will be out October 2020.

Check it out here.

Expert Italian shoemakers create Aera’s vegan shoes. | Aera

20. Aera

Last year, Dolce & Gabbana North America’s former president Tina Bhojwani launched a new vegan, “110% sustainable” shoe brand called Aera. Together with investor Alvertos Revach and Jean-Michel Cazabat—label-owner and the former head of luxury shoe brands Stephan Kélian and Charles Jourdan—Bhojwani created a “timeless” line of vegan shoes. The company designed its shoes to help shape a new ethical future of fashion.

Check it out here.

The Complete Guide to Sustainable and Stylish Vegan Shoes
The footwear brand makes sustainable sneakers. | Elliott Footwear

21. Elliott Footwear

Last year, Danish footwear brand Elliott Footwear brand elliott launched the “first-ever climate-friendly sneaker.” The sustainable footwear brand features eco-friendly materials, including recycled canvas, vegan suede, and vegan leather. The company says each pair of its sneakers saves one metric ton of carbon dioxide emissions from entering the atmosphere.

Check it out here.

The Complete Guide to Sustainable and Stylish Vegan Shoes
The company makes its shoes from food waste. | Virón

22. Virón

One of the newest vegan sustainable footwear brands on the market, Paris-based Virón was founded this year by sustainable experts Mats Rombaut and Julian Romer. The company makes it shoes from PETA-certified vegan or upcycled materials. In lieu of petrol-based PVC materials, Virón creates its leathers from apple and corn waste.

Check it out here.

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