Cute & Cruelty-Free Styles – Footwear News
Living a vegan lifestyle means not only adopting a plant-based diet, but also wearing clothes free of animal products. Now, it’s easier than ever to dress vegan thanks to a growing number of designers facing the push to go fur-free.
When it comes to footwear, a range of brands are using alternative materials like canvas and recycled plastics instead of animal hides, and they’re avoiding animal-based adhesives to create shoes that are cruelty-free and sustainable. Many labels are also committed to providing ethical work conditions for laborers and supporting local artisans around the world by employing them in production.
The looks created are anything but crunchy-granola, with everything from sleek mesh runners to pointed-toe mules made without harm to animals or the environment.
Ahead, we’ve rounded up over a dozen shoe brands where you can shop vegan — whether they offer only vegan styles or carry select cruelty-free offerings. On the list, you’ll find lesser-known labels worth keeping on your radar, plus some of your favorite mass market and luxury labels that are doing their part to create animal-friendly options. Read on to discover them all.
100% Vegan Brands
To Buy: Aera’s Lily Ballet flat, $325.
Veteran designer Jean-Michel Cazabat and former Theory SVP Tina Bhojwani have joined forces to create a sustainable, luxury footwear brand for men and women that is completely vegan. The direct-to-consumer brand is named after the Ancient Greek word meaning “to lift up,” and the company is focused on quantifying its carbon footprint, and in turn, identifying offset strategies for environmental impacts that come from shoemaking. The Emma Roberts go-to brand uses non-animal materials, so about half of are synthetic. To offset the use of plastic, the company has partnered with Plastic Bank, an organization that empowers disenfranchised communities to exchange any type of plastic for currency. Aera has also purchased 300 Water Restoration Certificates from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, which is equivalent to 300,000 gallons of water restored to critically dewatered rivers and streams in the United States.
Bangs Shoes are made from 100% vegan, ethically sourced materials at a family-owned factory where well-rounded office culture is as vital as the quality of their product. With all sorts of uniquely designed sneakers, the brand also hand-selects entrepreneurs to invest in since their company model includes investing 20% of their net profit to help people across the globe start their own businesses. Facilitated through their nonprofit partner, Kiva.org., entrepreneurs build their businesses and then repay their loan, which will then be reinvested into another blossoming company.
To Buy: BC Footwear’s Fierce Sandal, $59.
BC Footwear offers a range of under-$100 styles for women from flats to heels and booties. The shoes are made with animal-friendly materials like microfiber, bamboo and recycled rubbers, earning PETA’s official seal of approval. Said president Sari Ratsula, “To ensure [this], all of the inner components of BC shoes, including the counter pocket, linings, and comfort features, are made with high quality, vegan synthetics. We also use shoe glue that is free of casein, gelatin, or any other animal derivatives.”
For the past 19 years since its creation in 2001, Beyond Skin provides luxury vegan products handmade in Spain. The pairs, worn by the likes of Anne Hathaway and Natalie Portman, all have 100% recycled faux leather lining in addition to sustainable fabrics all made in a sweatshop-free process.
Call It Spring
To Buy: Call It Spring’s Drabeth Sandal, $35.
The brand decided to go completely vegan starting with its spring ’19 collection. Owned by Aldo Group, Call It Spring already featured mostly vegan footwear and accessories but chose to amp up to 100% cruelty-free products. The brand uses jersey fabric made of post-consumer recycled water bottles, eco-vegan leathers and insoles made from an algae-based material called Bloom.And for the Aldo brand, the company launched its first sustainability capsule collection called RPPL, made from recycled plastic bottle yarn and lake algae in 2019.
Cult of Coquette
Cult of Coquette’s vegan shoes and handbags transform fashion’s biggest trends into cruelty-free products. The 100% woman-owned brand ensures that you don’t have to sacrifice beauty and bold style for animal-friendly footwear like embellished mules and sleek pumps.
In addition to being cruelty-free and eco-friendly, Ethletic‘s sneakers are also made with fair trade practices. According to the company’s website, Ethletic pays a premium of $1 per pair of shoes sold to the factory’s Workers Welfare Society in Sialkot, Pakistan, where the shoes are handmade by local workers.
Worn by the likes of Hailey Baldwin, Jennifer Lopez and Heidi Klum, Femme LA combines popular styles with cruelty-free fabrics and vegan materials. The online-only brand provides ethically made pumps, sandals, boots, heels and more with most styles retailing for under $100.
Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather
More commonly referred to as Good Guys, this brand became one of the first French 100% vegan shoe companies in 2011. With footwear styles ranging from loafers to ballet slippers and sneakers, the brand is also currently heading towards being 100% recyclable by 2021. The products use materials like apple leather and vegan leather with zero carbon dioxide emissions. All are made in a fair trade environment across Europe.
Another Peta-approved brand, U.K.-based label Koi is essentially the all-vegan version of Forever 21, offering women’s on-trend, animal-friendly silhouettes for under $60. As part of its sustainability mission, the brand takes part in green practices like encouraging customers to recycle unwanted shoes to reusing water during the manufacturing process.
Matt & Nat
Montreal-based brand Matt & Nat is known for vegan handbags, but it recently introduced shoes into the mix as well. All the silhouettes are ultra chic — we’re talking high-vamp mules and buckled block-heel sandals — and completely free of animal products. The brand has experimented with a range of unique recycled materials, like nylon, cardboard, cork and most recently, bicycle tires, while the linings of all products are made entirely of recycled plastic bottles.
To Buy: Native’s Spencer LX Pool Slide, $25.
Native is based in Vancouver, Canada, and offers a range of lifestyle shoes for men, women and kids, including ultralightweight options like perforated sneakers. To reduce its environmental impact, the company collects worn and unwanted Native Shoes that are recycled and used to furnish projects in the community, such as flooring for local playgrounds.
Nomadic State of Mind
Nomadic State of Mind has employed local artisans in Nicaragua for over a decade to create its handmade rope sandals. The Grecian-style look, available in slides and strappy ankle styles with a woven base, is made of rope, upcycled sailcloth, hemp and recycled plastic.
To Buy: Okabashi Cross Strap Women’s Sandal, $19.
This made-in-America comfort flip-flop and sandal brand uses material that is 100% recyclable and 100% vegan. In addition, the Georgia-based brand operates on a closed loop manufacturing system and invites its customers to send back their worn Okabashi shoes for recycling to then receive 15% off their next purchase.
This 100% vegan shoe brand from Los Angeles uses a mix of cruelty-free fabrics like faux leathers and soft velvets. Rafa’s one-of-a-kind silhouettes and bold use of color create must-have styles with minimal environmental impact.
To Buy: Rothy’s The Flip Sandals, $65.
Beloved by Meghan Markle and other celebrities, Rothy’s has risen to fame thanks to its comfy, machine-washable flats. They’re animal- and eco-friendly, too, complete with a knit upper made from 100% recycled plastic water bottles, carbon-free rubber soles and vegan adhesives. Recently, the brand expanded its lineup to include sleek yet simple loafers and sneakers. In addition, Rothy’s launched its most affordable style to date, called The Flip. The style features thong-toe straps made from recycled PET polyester yarn — which is strung together from recycled plastic water bottles — and cushy foam footbeds made of algae. It’s available in seven colors from “Tiger Orange” to “Grasshopper Green” as well as a classic black hue.
Launched in 2017, burgeoning footwear brand Rungg Shoes offers a range of luxury, hand-embroidered styles for women — from pumps to slingbacks and mules — made of vegan leather. The shoes, which feature designs inspired by Indian culture, are also Peta-approved.
The Los-Angeles based lifestyle brand carries an eclectic range of looks for women that are sustainable and cruelty-free. Its lineup includes ’70s-inspired styles like rich brown ankle boots and gingham-clad heels, plus classic oxfords with modern details. What’s more, 30% of sales go toward PETA’s efforts to prevent animals from being used during production in the clothing industry.
Veerah blends unique vegan fabrics to create its chic women’s shoes including apple leather, renewed plastic textiles and algae foam cushions; the styles are favored by Lea Michele, among others, for their modern luxury. The brand also ensures that at least 1% of the company’s revenue goes directly to social impact causes, contributing with employee volunteer hours and scholarships through She’s the First for girl scholars.
Vegetarian Shoes is a brand that has been providing cruelty-free and animal byproduct-free footwear for 30 years. With everything from flip-flops to chic winter boots, the brand has you covered for every season.
Brands With Select Vegan Offerings
Adidas carries many synthetic shoes in its lineup, including the Parley running shoes featuring yarn made from recycled ocean waste and the brand’s acclaimed Boost cushioning. Plus, the sportswear giant recently announced that more than half of the polyester used in its products will come from recycled plastic waste this year, with plans to use only recycled polyester by 2024. Further, about 15 to 20 million pairs of Adidas sneakers will be created this year with plastic waste collected from beaches and coastal regions. (For comparison, the brand released more than 11 million pairs in 2019, 5 million in 2018 and 1 million in 2017.) Adidas has also continued to work on the development of its first fully recyclable running shoe, the Futurecraft Loop. The sneaker, which is fused together without the need for glue, was tested on 200 athletes last year and is expected to launch in 2021.
All components of Blowfish Malibu’s spring ’20 collection are free of any animal by-products, even down to the glue and outsole. With all products officially registered with the Vegan Society, the brand offers sandals, platforms and sneakers, all with vegan fabrics.
The classic English boot brand earned the PETA Libby Award — given to brands demonstrating a deep commitment to animal rights — after adding a number of vegan styles to its repertoire in 2013. The cruelty-free offerings include the brand’s classic boot and sandal silhouettes done with synthetic materials and 100% vegan constructions.
In 2017, Free People joined forces with PETA to introduce a vegan fashion lookbook in partnership with vegan shoe designer Faryl Robin, including faux-leather booties, sandals and loafers.
Handcrafted by artisans in Latin America, Inkkas sneakers and boots are like walking murals for your feet. Many styles are made with canvas and feature everything from colorful embroidery to playful patterns like cacti on the uppers. Even better, the brand plants one tree for every pair sold.
Madewell’s Sidewalk Sneaker line includes vegan canvas options for men and women. Perfect for travel or days spent on your feet, the style also incorporates a plush insole for added comfort.
The Swoosh offers a range of styles that swap out leather for animal-friendly materials like mesh and the brand’s proprietary Flyknit — as in the Flex series and Air Vapormax Flyknit.
English footwear brand Reebok joined the vegan movement last summer with the release of its Corn + Cotton collection. The line includes a classic sneaker silhouette done in a 100% vegan construction, including uppers crafted entirely of cotton and a bio-based sole derived from corn. Retailing for $90, the sneakers come in four earthy colorways, including a muted lavender and green. They are available in men and women’s sizes.
Athleisure brand Saucony offers a unique low-top sneaker made with no animal products, by-products or derivatives. The Jazz Low Pro Vegan style blends canvas fabric and hemp materials for a stylish everyday design.
While many other luxury labels have been slow to follow suit, Stella McCartney has long been a stalwart supporter of sustainability and animal rights. The luxury label does not use leather or fur in any of its designs and carries a range of all-vegan styles like the Loop shoe line, which boasts a biodegradable knit upper and glueless construction. Last year, Stella McCartney teamed up with Adidas to produce the first-ever vegan Stan Smith sneaker, featuring faux leather.
Teva offers a mix of completely vegan styles in addition to its new commitment to use eco-friendly material; this year, 100% of Teva’s straps will be made using recycled plastic from Repreve yarn, repurposing over 9 million plastic bottles. Its vegan styles come in a mix of classic silhouettes as well as bolder designs and unique twists on the original sandals you all know and love.
Not only has Toms adapted its famous slip-on style, but also a range of sandals and sneakers in all-vegan constructions. The animal-friendly options are available in men’s, women’s and kids’ sizing. Since the brand’s inception in 2006, it has donated one pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair sold. Over 86 million pairs have been donated to date.
Another Meghan Markle favorite, French sneaker label Veja offers a line of sneakers free of leather and suede. The sleek styles, which emphasize clean lines and low-profile details, are also sustainable and ethically sourced. The brand even has a website where you can trace the raw materials back to the growers that harvest them in South America.
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