“Even though Stella McCartney’s brand is not a 100% vegan and cruelty free, she is still the one that made me go vegan thanks to a video about the leather industry in India she produced with PETA. And to the great displeasure of my wallet, she is my favorite leather-free shoe designer ever since I adopted a vegan lifestyle almost 2 years ago.“
Mona Diederich schreibt für uns einen englischen Gastblog-Beitrag über vegane Schuhe. Ihr Instagram Profil ist mona_ttitude.
Als ich ihr Profil eindeckte habe und ihre offensichtliche Hingabe, Begeisterung und Liebe zu veganen Schuhen sehen konnte, wollte ich nicht anders und bat sie um einen Beitrag auf unserem Blog.
Wie bedanken uns ganz herzlich für den super Artikel- Viel Spass beim lesen und recherchieren!
What is wrong with leather?
To be vegan, shoes have to be free of any animal products and by-products, the most obvious one being leather.
Many people happily wear leather on the grounds that it is a by-product of animal slaughter for meat consumption and therefore using it is considered as being a form of recycling or waste limitation. But it also brings the meat farmers huge additional revenues and therefore supports the meat industry. Furthermore not all leather comes from grown-up cows that get killed to be transformed into steaks. The fashion industry also uses:
- leather from animals that won’t get eaten (one of the biggest leather producing country is India, where cows don’t get eaten);
- exotic leathers (crocodile, ostrich, snake);
- leather from animals that occidental cultures consider as pets (dog);
- leather from animals that are not born yet (unborn calves make very soft and expensive leather).
Not only is leather accountable for the miserable lives and horrific deaths of millions of animals every year, it also comes with a high environmental impact. Used as such, the hides would just rot. In order to avoid this natural decomposition, the protein structure of the leather gets transformed through an incredibly toxic process called tanning, which requires a lot of water and uses products like chrome. In most of the leather production countries, the wastewater just gets dumped untreated into the next river or the next sea, killing the ecosystems and causing diseases in the surrounding population.
What else should be taken into consideration?
Next to leather, most shoes contain an invisible animal product: animal-based glues(bone glue). It is almost impossible to know if a pair of shoes contains animal-based glues, as this information does not get mentioned on the product descriptions. The only solution is either to ask the brand you are interested in and hope to get an honest and unambiguous answer if an answer at all, or to rely on brands that publicly commit not to use such glues.
Even though most shoes are made with synthetic dyes, some brands may color their shoes with inks and dyes derived from animals.
Where to find vegan & cruelty free shoes?
When going vegan I promised the shoe-addict I was to stay fashionable and to show people around me that being stylish and vegan at the same time is possible. Because I believe that inspiring people is the best way to convince them. And because I did not want to walk around in flip-flops and in rubber boots.
There are basically 3 options when looking for vegan shoes:
Buying manmade material based shoes from well established brands like H&M , Zara, Nike or Adidas
The advantage is that you can find those almost everywhere but the drawbacks are numerous:
- excepted if you ask the brand, you usually won’t know what type of glue they use;
- the materials used for faux-leather options might not smell very nicely and usually don’t allow your feet to breathe properly;
- the production conditions might be as polluting as for leather;
- those big brands mainly produce in countries like China, Bangladesh or India, where the working conditions can be close to slavery and imply child labor.
Buying from vegan & cruelty free brands
10 or even 5 years ago this might still have been a challenge, but nowadays there is an increasing offer on the market for the vegan shoe lover.
Brands like Beyond Skin, Bourgeois Bohemes or Nicora to name only a few (longer list at the bottom of this post) sell vegan, cruelty free, mostly ethically produced and sustainable, high quality, waterproof, breathable and fashionable shoes.
The only issue is that they are still mainly available online and any Swiss resident knows that importing goods to Switzerland can get expensive, mainly if the item does not fit and has to be sent back.
Vegan & cruelty free shoe brands
(alphabetical order – non-exhaustive )
Bambi and tramp
BC footwear (not a 100% vegan, but with many vegan options)
Brooks (running shoes)
Cri de Coeur
Fritzi aus Preussen (partly available on Zalando and on About You)
Good guys don’t wear leather
Gurus (specialized in flip-flops)
Lulus (not a 100% vegan, but with many vegan options)
Mizuno (sport shoes)
Newton (running shoes)
Pammies (Pamela Anderson’s brand of vegan “Uggs”)
The No Animal Brand (Swiss brand available at Jelmoli and The Gallery Shop)
Wills vegan shoes
Multi brand online shops (alphabetical order – non-exhaustive)
Avesu (based in Germany)
Moo Shoes (based in the US)
V-Angle (based in Switzerland)
Additional useful links
Collonil (natural shoe care products)