The ever-increasing impact of fashion footprints on our environment has led to the creation of eco-conscious fashion staples manufactured with responsible materials using sustainable innovations.
Putting the planet first is no longer an afterthought as some brands are really putting their heart and soul into delivering leather-free and eco-friendly alternatives, especially when it comes to shoes. Given the hazards of the leather industry, massive energy and toxic chemicals are used in manufacturing giving tannery effluents as by-products, which are one of the biggest sources of soil and water pollution in the world, it’s about time to go leather-free.
From innovative footwear utilising waste and recycled rubber tyres to cereals, here is a list of some of the most sustainable, durable and stylish vegan shoe brands that you can wear with utmost pride.
(Hero and Featured image credit: Stella McCartney/Twitter)
The London-based eponymous luxury brand launched by former head designer of Jimmy Choo, Alfredo Pīferi makes 100% vegan shoes, sandals, mules and boots with impeccable craftsmanship. From production to packaging of shoes, enormous attention is paid to reduce the impact on the environment.
The shoes are made by a team of artisans in Parabiago, Milan, using vegan materials like BIOVEG-certified Bio Vegan Nappa and vegan suede. The shoes are made with processes that use 44% less energy and generate a 13% lesser carbon footprint.
All the shoes are inside out vegan with their insoles made using cellulose which is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®) and recycled ABS. The shoes are packed in an FSC®-certified recycled cardboard box, wrapped carefully in recycled tissue paper, accompanied by a dust bag made of certified organic cotton.
The vegan footwear brand also received recognition as “Launch of The Year” at Footwear News Achievement Awards (2020), which is deemed as the Oscars for shoes.
The brainchild of Tina Bhojwani and Jean-Michel Cazabat, Aera is a New York-based luxury vegan shoe brand that works on the “110% offset” philosophy to address the environmental footprint and at the same time help our planet heal. Launched in 2018, all of the brand’s vegan shoes are made in Veneto (Italy) by experienced artisans.
Using meaningful carbon and water offset technologies, the vegan shoe brand was able to plant around 2,000 trees in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley and restore 622,000 gallons of water in parched streams and rivers in the US.
The vegan shoe brand is certified carbon-negative by SCS Global Services, which oversees and quantifies the impacts made by the brand from production to packaging.
The vegan shoes are made from bio-based and recycled materials, packaged in a box and tissue paper made with post-consumer recycled and organic waste along with a certified cotton dust bag.In addition to that, they also received Butterfly Mark recognition from Positive Luxury for its measurable impact and sustainable efforts.
Beyond Skin was created in 2001 with the sole aim of offering luxury vegan leather footwear that marries sustainability and style. The products are designed in England and handcrafted in Spain using environment-friendly materials such as vegan and faux leather with vegetable polymer coating.
The insoles are made from eco-friendly materials such as post-consumer cardboard, PU plastic and recycled rubber resin which are sourced locally from Spain. They have a diverse variety of shoes ranging from trainers and vintage boots to bridal shoes.
The brand’s customer list includes Hollywood A-listers like Natalie Portman and Anne Hathaway. Its products have been featured in leading magazines, including Elle, W Magazine, British ,US Vogue, and Marie Claire. Some notable awards won by Beyond Skin include The Observer Ethical Award, Grazia award, PETA, RSPCA and Drapers.
The makers of India’s first cruelty-free shoes, Senso offers a range of stylish and contemporary vegan footwear since its inception in 2012. Based in Mumbai, the vegan shoe brand was born out of necessity to make people aware of their fashion footprint and offer them a much better alternative to leather.
Senso is PETA-approved and has also won “Vegan Men’s Formal Shoes” from PETA. They specialise in formal as well as casual footwear for both men and women along with belts, wallets and buckles.
Since its inception in 2001, the luxury fashion brand has been committed to putting the planet first. McCartney herself is a life-long vegetarian and animal rights activist who has been vocal about shunning the use of leather, fur and other animal products.
The brand made waves for its collaboration with Adidas for 100% cruelty-free, sustainable and vegan sneakers, also known as “Stella Stan Smith.”
The luxury vegan footwear line by the designer uses materials like vegetarian leather, recycled nylon and organic cotton to address the impact of greenhouse gases. The brand is PVC-free, fur-free, against animal testing and strives to use cruelty- and leather-free solvents as well as dyes.
In 2019, the company won the Ground Breaker Award at the Green Carpet Fashion Awards in Milan for its use of sustainable products and practices.
Makers of the world’s first bio-sneaker, Yatay is one of the most sought-after cruelty-free and vegan shoe brands that is PETA-approved as well. With every pair of shoes that is sold, the brand plants a tree apart from employing other sustainable strategies in practice.
The eco-friendly vegan leather shoes are made with ecological materials such as cereal and wood with linings made of soft viscose and soles from recycled rubber tyres. They are also USFDA-approved for use of organic materials with considerably low environmental impact.
All the products are crafted in Italy’s Marche region using locally sourced materials. Customers have the option to recycle their old Yatay shoes and dispose of them sustainably.
Based in Mumbai, eco-conscious footwear brand Achilles’ Heel crafts custom pairs for vegan-friendly consumers. Nirali Ruparel founded the brand in 2012 to offer bespoke vegan footwear for men in a variety of styles, colours, materials and shapes.
The materials are sourced locally from eco-friendly tanneries and customers can choose from vegan pleather or hide leather to get their hands on truly personalised and unique footwear designs.
Each pair is made with excellent craftsmanship and customers can even opt to create the shoe mould, design the entire shoe or simply pick the best pair from their shoe collections.
Founded by Kyle Parsons, the impetus to start Indosole came from a pair of sandals made from motorcycle tyres that he bought during his trip to Bali. In Bali’s flagship store of the brand, Jennifer Gregory met Kyle Parsons and brought Indosole to Singapore.
Indosole is an all-terrain footwear brand with products that are vegan, responsibly-made and crafted from natural rubber with straps made from Enviro Fibre. They use only natural dyes and so far, the brand has been able to save 80,000 tyres from landfills.
German-based vegan and sustainable vegan leather shoe brand, Ethletic has a wide collection of shoe styles ranging from trainers to sandals and skater shoes. Started in 1998 with the production of soccer balls, the brand launched its first Ethletic sneaker in 2004, which also became the world’s first-ever sneaker to receive Fairtrade seal of approval for using fair trade organic cotton.
The brand uses eco-friendly materials like natural rubber harvested from FSC-certified plantations and latex milk as adhesives to make PETA-approved vegan footwear. They were also awarded the Fairtrade Award in the Manufacturer category in 2016 in Berlin.
The brand has its production sites in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India where it uses locally sourced certified materials using ethical and fair-trade practices.
The Japanese word Kibo translates to ‘Hope’ in English. The vegan footwear brand has paved the way to using discarded materials and giving new ‘hope’ to using waste for ethical and sustainable manufacturing of footwear.
Taking cues from his family’s footwear manufacturing business, Simon founded Kibo with Natalie to reduce the impact of waste on the planet. They also donate a portion of their profits from the sale of each pair to the victims of human trafficking.
The vegan shoe brand makes footwear from discarded scraps of leather and recycled plastic using a sustainable manufacturing process that recycles 95% of water. The insoles are made from natural-based materials such as Plant-based Tencel™ to make them comfortable, anti-odour and anti-bacterial.
They also have a Try Before You Buy option for customers in Singapore that lets them get their products delivered to their address and pay only after they try and decide to keep the shoes.