Cruelty-free fashion: Choosing a Perfect Pair of Vegan Sneakers

I was looking forward to covering this story for some time now and I am super happy that vegan sneakers are becoming a more popular choice and are more widely available. As you’ve probably noticed, the demand for vegan shoes is on the rise—more and more companies are turning to cruelty-free production and the usage of sustainable vegan materials.

Grand View Research, market research and business consulting company, stated that the market for vegan leather, specifically synthetic leather, is estimated to grow to $57 billion globally by 2028, and numerous companies are rushing to keep up. Tesla is one of the many major companies that is developing leather-free car interiors, with the Tesla Model 3 having a 100% percent vegan-friendly interior.

Well, the future looks bright, doesn’t it? 

What Are Vegan Shoes Made Of?

Vegan shoes are produced from materials made without the use of any animal-based fibers, i.e., made from waste products and from natural plant sources. (You’re welcome. Yours truly, Captain Obvious.) 

Unlike the common materials used for manufacturing all types of shoes, such as leather, sheepskin, fur, silk, wool, etc., vegan shoes are made without any animal-derived ingredients, typically from plant-based materials, recycled waste, synthetic leather, petroleum-based plastics (PU or PVC), etc. 

What’s more, using recycled plastic bottles, yarn scraps, car tires, food industry waste, and natural fruit peel skin is becoming a growing trend among vegan shoes production companies. 

Innovative Leather Alternatives Are the Future

This growing interest in cruelty-free production without animal-derived fibers or textiles allows companies to rely on innovative technologies with the goal to create quality, durable and sustainable alternatives to animal-based products and materials.

Famous brands like Stella McCartney, Lululemon, and Adidas, recently announced they are investing in Mylo, an innovative material that will replace animal leather. Mylo is a bio-based leather alternative, made from mycelium (threads from the root structure of fungi). How cool is that?

How to Tell if Shoes Are Vegan?

Most companies that produce leather products provide some form of indication that the product or some of its parts are made from animal leather. These labels or tags can help you identify non-vegan from vegan shoes. If you can’t find the label or tag, check if the symbols are imprinted on the inside of the shoes. 

A symbol that looks like a cowhide means that the shoes are made from animal leather while the diamond-shaped or net-like symbol stands for textile or materials other than animal skin.

Are vegan shoes eco-friendly?

Back in 2017, the Pulse of Fashion Industry Report found cow leather to be the most polluting material. Thus, vegan leather, although its production might impact the environment in some form, is a more sustainable choice than any animal-based material.

If you really want to be 100% eco-friendly and make a completely sustainable purchase, the best choice is to opt for plant-based vegan leather, meaning you should even avoid products that use PVC or PU as these require the usage of toxic chemicals harmful to the environment and are, in fact, not biodegradable materials. So the ideal option is to do your research and purchase vegan shoes made from apple, wine-grape, cactus, pineapple leather, etc.

Eco-conscious Style & Comfort: 10 Best Vegan Sneakers to Buy Now

As is usually the case, when you’re new to a trend, you need some guidance on what to opt for. That is why I’ve put together a list of some of the best vegan sneakers brands to help you make the right decision and keep your feet comfortable. Check it out!

1. Veja Women’s V-12 Sneakers

Veja vegan sneakers

These cute Veja vegan sneakers are made from bovine leather that comes from farms in Uruguay and suede made from the underside of it, from south of Brazil. They are super comfortable and can be worn in light rain as they are coated with chemical compounds-free water-repellent oils. The whole process of making these sneakers is done eco-consciously, with special attention paid to water usage. Kudos to Veja!

 

A versatile pair of vegan sneakers such as these can enhance any of your outfits in a matter of seconds, and give it a special sporty/casual touch.

2. Kumi Classic KS Aqua

Kumi Vegan Sneakers

Do you love a classic look with a twist? Then check out Kumi’s Classic KS Aqua vegan sneakers. These lightweight sneakers are super comfy and breathable, ideal for long walks. They are sustainable and made in Spain from recycled plastic bottles and corn waste. Enhance your sporty-chic outfit with these amazing vegan sneakers.

3. Matt & Nat Marci Vegan White Sneakers

Matt & Nat Marci vegan sneakers

Matt & Nat Marci are known as pioneers in the vegan and eco-conscious fashion industry. Not only are these cute minimalist Marci women’s vegan sneakers stylish and can be combined with any outfit, but they are also very comfortable for wearing when you’re out and about, walking around the city.

I love that they are made from biodegradable material, and the whole process is cruelty-free—a perfect pair of ethically made sneakers.

4. Inkkas – Andes Jogger Colorful Vegan Sneakers

Inkkas - Andes Jogger Colorful Vegan Sneakers
If you’re looking for something colorful that will portray your personality and express your fashion likes the right way, check out these awesome Inkkas vegan sneakers. These adorable sneakers are inspired by the Andes—as described by them, inspired by the place “…where the land ends and sea joins the sky” which I absolutely love. Handcrafted in Latin America, Andes Jogger sneakers are super soft and durable.

My favorite thing about these is that the company is all about preserving the environment, planting one tree for every purchase of their sneakers! How cool is that?!

5. Soludos Yebo Vegan Sneaker


Yebo vegan sneakers are made with comfort in mind, specifically to be worn for longer periods of time without having any issues. Made from vegan, bio-based leather, recycled polyester, and recycled rubber, Yebo sneakers are sleek, versatile, and can go with any outfit you choose.

Soludos found inspiration for their sneakers collection in adventurers who care about their surroundings and believe in sustainability. I’m particularly in love with the navy ones! Guess what’s added to my shopping list, wink, wink.

6. Vans U Classic Check Foxing Slip-ON 

Vans U Classic Check Foxing Slip-ON 


If you like more alternative sneaker models, then you are surely familiar with Vans. Vans sneakers are one of those brands that have included a wide range of vegan models in their collection. As they have been making shoes for more than 50 years, you know they are doing things the right way, and that’s why I’m very pleased to say that they are adjusting to the trends and are becoming more eco-conscious themselves.

These classic vegan slip-on sneakers are made from organic cotton canvas and rubber, with checkerboard foxing tape that’s giving them a bit of an edgy look. I love combining mine with flowery/silky dresses, I think they look pretty dope that way. So, versatility is always a plus for me.

7. Saye Modelo ‘89 Vegan Lima

Modelo '89 Vegan Lima

These cool vegan sneakers by Saye remind me of old-school sneakers, and I just love the design and the colors. Saye is one of the best vegan sneakers brands as they are doing everything they can to become a zero-waste brand. These super comfy, light, and breathable sneakers also come in a high-top model, and I can’t decide which I love more.

I really appreciate the transparency—they are straightforward when it comes to their carbon footprint and it is awesome that the production actually emits about 54% less CO2e than the average. Plus, they plant two trees for each purchase. It just can’t get any better than this.

8. Adidas Continental 80 Vegan Shoes

CONTINENTAL 80 VEGAN SHOES


Speaking of old-school models, Adidas Continental 80 is a must-have when it comes to retro eco-friendly sneakers. For all 80s fashion lovers, these Adidas are a perfect addition to your wardrobe and are a great purchase that makes an impact on the planet. Enjoy comfy vegan materials in these dope 80s-inspired sneakers.

9. Superga Women’s Swallow Tail Vegan Sneaker


For me, Superga’s sneakers models are evergreen. Love combining them with all sorts of outfits because, well, I think they go great with everything.

The Swallow Tail vegan high-top sneakers are durable, feel good on the feet, and give a unique twist on the classic high-top sneakers. Thanks to its cushioned footbed, you can wear them for longer periods as they are specifically made to deliver all-day comfort.

10. Nike Space Hippie 04

Nike hippie 04
Lastly, I want to mention Nike as I am really happy to say that they are also making an effort and creating vegan models for their eco-conscious fans. Nike vegan sneakers named Space Hippie are actually made from 75% trash, i.e., factory waste and recycled plastic bottles.

They have a unique look, are lightweight, breathable, and great for sports, as well as for long walks. I think they look pretty cool, especially when you know the whole story about the materials used. Just Awesome. Well done, Nike!

A Final Word

If you’re seeking a perfect pair of sneakers to take your outfits (and your impact) to the next level, these are some of the best pairs to wear, whose production causes less harm to animals, plants, and planet earth in general. A small change like this has a great impact on our future. So, happy shopping, you’re making a great decision!

 

GRRRL always offers genuine editorial recommendations. We only recommend products we would use ourselves and all opinions expressed here are our own. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission, at no cost to you.

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