How to find out what a shoe is made from
The 'skin' symbol at the top indicates leather - the other symbols mean fabric or faux leather, ie animal-free fabrics
Clothing might seem easy and mostly it is! With a vast array of ethical fibres such as bamboo, hemp and organic cotton plus quality modern synthetics and amazing fake furs – there is plenty to choose from. However, vegans avoid wool, silk, fur, leather and feathers, all of which come from a living or dead animal – sadly, cruelty and exploitation are embedded in these industries, however green, ethical or sustainable they claim to be.
Companies such as www.hempish.com; www.bohohemp.co.uk; www.braintreeclothing.com
offer alternatives - some also sell organic cotton and bamboo clothing. www.viva.shop.org.uk also sells a range of tees, hoodies, baby clothes, boxers... and more, all in ethical fabrics. And while we all use high street shops, maybe it's worth investigating 'upcycled' or 'pre-loved' clothing? Charity shops, eBay etc increasingly carry an amazing range of clothes at bargain prices and you can do your recycling bit as well!
Obviously, vegans don’t use leather or suede. However, there are decisions for new vegans – for financial and ecological reasons you may want to wear out leather footwear before buying vegan versions. Just be honest – if someone quizzes you about it, explain why!
However, over time you may want to replace those leather items with animal-friendly ones, for many good reasons. But it's not a problem - there is plenty to choose from. Not only do vegan online stores sell a variety of brands, we even found vegan footwear on Amazon (just check the product matches the search!) Many high street stores, including big supermarket chains, often sell non-leather shoes although the glues may or may not be of animal origin – you will need to check with the company. Try Shoe Zone; H&M; George at Asda; New Look and others. We also found a great blog My Non Leather Life - with a link to a fantastic Pinterest page full of lovely non-leather shoes and more!
Below is a list of companies that sell vegan shoes...it's not exhaustive and apologies if we've missed anyone out. Vegan products are hugely on the rise and it's quite a job to keep up, not that we're complaining! If we have left you out, just email us and we'll add you to the site if you fit the bill.
Beyond Skin: designer shoes - sexy heels and more. And a new men's range is coming soon...
Bourgeois Boheme: lovely, contemporary footwear and accessories for women and men.
Eco Vegan Shoes: from work boots to classic shoe designs and more, all made with sustainable and durable leather alternatives, this company does what it says on the tin
Fashion Conscience: interesting range of footwear and accessories but not everything on sale is vegan.
Freerangers: a really individual range with sound ethical principles. They also sell custom made items (shoes, bags, sporrans!!) and are passionate about refurbishing. How green is that?
NAE: a Portugese company whose initials stand for 'No Animal Exploitation'! See their catalogue here - and find their range at various vegan outlets
Tivydale - another newbie with very fashionable range
Vegetarian Shoes: the big daddy of vegan footwear! Their shoes are contemporary classics, including vegan Doc Martens, walking boots, women's fashion wear and lots more. Find them in their Brighton shop or website. (We love them even more because they've been loyal and generous donors for years.)
Will's Vegan Shoes the new kid on the block but already making a name for themselves with funky yet wearable designs for women and men
Many trainers are inherently vegan but the glues might be an issue (as might their employment record in foreign factories!). Asics have a vegan list: look for products with an 'N' in the code.
Brooks - all trainers are vegan (but not walking shoes)
Other companies vary - New Balance used to be vegan but have changed their policy so it's best to check with each company before heading to the shops/website store
As well as the dedicated vegan companies who sell hiking boots, such as Vegetarian Shoes (see above), several of the big companies offer one or more that are 'accidentally vegan' in their range, eg Saloman; Karrimor and Aku la Stria. As with trainers, check the company website first and contact them for clarification.