Where to buy sustainable vegan shoes and sandals
There are significant environmental benefits to choosing a vegan wardrobe (and choosing to stick with vegan shoes and sandals over leather ones), but vegan fashion is an sector that is full of greenwashing. I have seen countless examples of vegan fashion labels claiming their products as ‘sustainable’ ‘green’or ‘eco-friendly’ when they use PVC, a plastic that is so toxic that Greenpeace campaign against it’s use.
So if you want to live by your cruelty-free ethics, and also avoid significant environmental harm, you need to look for the sustainable options for vegan shoes and sandals. Here are the best places to find them.
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1. Bead & Reel
Bead & Reel are a beautifully curated, eco-conscious vegan fashion boutique for women. They are based in LA, but sell online and ship globally. Bead & Reel‘s products are carefully chosen for their cruelty-free and eco credentials. They offer a genuine opportunity to shop for non-toxic vegan fashion, and do not engage in greenwashing. They stock heels and flats, in a good variety of styles, including boots, sneakers, and sandals. They also offer clear advice on sizing to help you choose the right fit.
MadeFair is an ethical and sustainable fashion boutique. Although the boutique is not specifically vegan, they do stock a number of vegan brands. In footwear, they stock Komodo sandals and canvas shoes, which are made with organic cotton, recycled polyutherene (vegan synthetic suede), and recycled tyres. I especially love the blue tie-dye butterfly sandal. They are Fair Trade certified too.
Bourgeoisie Boheme, unlike many chic vegan shoe brands of the greenwashing variety, has a transparent policy on sustainability. This was refreshing to discover, and I feel confident about the labels commitment to providing cruelty-free shoes that are also kind to the environment. Most exciting is their Pinatex (Pineapple Leather) collection, which includes a range of beautiful styles for men and women. They also use biopolyoils, which are plant-based (biodegrable plastics). Some of their products are polyutherene, which is synthetic, but it is the least toxic option for vegan synthetics. They do not use PVC in their product range.
This Australian company has been certified Fair-trade since 2005 and use sustainable materials to produce ethical, cruelty free options in footwear, as well as underwear, t-shirts and sports gear, for men and women. I wear their sneakers, which are made from organic cotton and sustainably grown natural rubber (FSC certified), low impact dyes (AZO free), and no animal glue used. In fact, all their footwear is sustainable, fair trade and vegan. They also stock slipper style canvas shoes, and flip flops (known as thongs in Australia). The online store only ships to Australia, but US customers can find their products at Grove & Bay (who also ship to Canada and the UK). There are also a couple of stockists in New Zealand.
5. Sole Rebels
Sole Rebels is a Fair Trade and sustainable footwear company started by Ethiopian entrepreneur Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, who Forbes named one of the world’s 100 most powerful women. They offer a economic empowerment through fair and ethical trade, allowing tranditional artisans to preserve their skills whilst making use of (an reusing) low impact local materials. Sole Rebels stock a range of women’s and men’s foot wear options that are made with organic fabrics, and the soles are made with recycled car tyres. The company is not a vegan company, so it does stock some leather footwear. But the majority of the range is made with hand-loomed natural plant fibres, including organic cotton, organic jute, and koba fibre. The shop allows you to search for vegan options, so it is transparent which shoes meet your ethical standards.
6. Cri de Coeur
Cri de Coeur is another vegan shoe brand that is committed to sustainable manufacturing. The materials they use include Ultrasuede made from recycled plastics, eco-polyutherene (which is low-VOC, breathable and biodegradable), as well as organic cotton, hemp and reclaimed wood. They offer a very broad range of shoes, suiting a wide range of tastes and styles, including floral or polka dot flats or pumps. This brand is a good option if you like to have a wide range to choose from. They also include handbags in their product range.
7. Cork Leather
This Australian store stocks a range of products made from (no surprises here!) cork leather. Cork leather is a leather alternative which made from the sustainable natural resource cork bark. This store has a huge range of shoes, sandals, from boots and heels, to casual flats. They also stock men’s shoes, handbags and accessories, and some cork leather jewellery.
I’ve followed up with some other vegan shoe brands that were not transparent on their website, but haven’t heard back. This is probably a sign that they use PVC in their brand, even while touting their products as an eco-friendly option. There are many more vegan shoe options on the market, but these are the only ones that I have found which uphold a commitment to sustainable materials. Happy shoe hunting!