With the ever-quickening pace of fashion giving way to a throwaway culture, shoes have become more and more disposable over the years. This wasteful way consumer culture sends an average of three pairs of shoes per person to landfill each year, not to mention the resources and energy that goes into making them, and the toxic chemicals used in their production that finds its way into the natural environment. The leather industry, rather than a by-product of leather as many are led to believe, is a brutal industry motivated by profit where cows are routinely abused. Last but not least, the demand for cheaper products in bigger quantities has cultivated an exploitative industry using vulnerable workers producing goods in poor or even dangerous conditions for little pay.
Not all fashion is created equal however, and these dedicated vegan shoe brands prove that lust-worthy and well-designed vegan shoes are a very real option today. Gone are the days of cheap plastic faux leather shoes that don’t let your feet breathe. Now, with exciting sustainable materials made from pineapple leaves, mushrooms, kombucha and wine making a splash in the fashion scene, and more companies opting for an ethical production model, it’s easier than every for fashion lovers to shop guilt-free. Here are our top picks for vegan shoe brands to step into spring with.
London-based brand Bourgeois Boheme produces sleek handcrafted artisan footwear for men and women, all animal free, eco-friendly and produced in ethical factories in Portugal. Think hard-wearing classic styles and materials like cork, pineapple leaf fibre, seeds and would-be waste materials.
PETA approved brand Beyond Skin handcrafts their shoes from vegan and eco-friendly materials including a faux suede microfiber made in Italy from 100% recycled PET plastics. For those looking for shoes that are vegan but don’t look it, this fashion mag favourite offers a delectable selection of chic styles. Men’s range coming soon.
Po-Zu boasts a solvent-free production process among a spectacular array of eco and ethical credentials, and their shoes are pretty slick too. Named after the Japanese word for pause, the London-based brand’s shoes are designed for wearers with busy lifestyles. For comfortable and well-made sustainable, ethical and vegan shoes for women, men and kids, the bar doesn’t get much higher, AND they have a range of Star Wars inspired shoes in partnership with Disney.
Italian sports-luxe brand SQUARe027 is 100% vegan, choosing not to use leather, feathers, wool or silk in their products. Their vision stems from the fact that the dying and tanning industries are some of the most polluting in the world, and their eco-friendly production process involves the use of vegan microfiber, recycled materials and wood in unisex styles and bright colours.
By Fiona Feeney ©FM