By Katy Caric
Vegan sneaker brands are staying abreast of the latest footwear trend – basically, the chunky, clunky (but surprisingly comfy!) trainer. The Adidas Ultraboost kicked off the trend, with its thick white sole, and Balenciaga’s multi-hued triple S shoes soon followed, and became a cult favourite, despite looking a bit like something out of a Transformers movie.
Those two styles mentioned above aren’t normally made out of leather, but don’t think that means they’re vegan friendly: some seemingly ‘vegan’ shoes can contain animal-derived ingredients like glue, or can use materials that were tested on animals. Moverover, many of these shoes are far from eco-friendly in any way. According to PETA, when shopping for vegan shoes, you should be aware of the following:
- Non-synthetic materials: Nearly all running shoes are made exclusively with synthetic materials to keep them light and breathable, but some are made of synthetics blended with animal skin (leather).
- Glues: The synthetic materials of running shoes are put together using strong glues. In some brands, the glue is derived from animal bones.*
- Dyes: Most shoes are made with synthetic dyes, but some brands may color their shoes with inks and dyes derived from animals.
Thankfully, it’s become easier than ever to be kind to your legs and feet with the perfect pair of vegan running shoes—with no cruelty to animals! Here are 12 of the best vegan sneaker brands that you an wear with just about anything!
Fact: ugly sneakers are the hottest accessory! And Stella’s ‘Eclypse’ shoes provide are just so cool. Grounded by a chunky rubber sole, this all-white pair is made from a combination of faux leather and suede and has spongy neoprene tongues. Wear yours with some coloured denim to really stand out.
Price: $685 Gym friendly? Not really.
Ontems is quickly becoming the vegan sneaker favorite, breaking industry conventions along the way. They are an independent brand that designs unisex, handcrafted sneakers, using natural and organic materials. With a deep rooted environmental commitment they’ve brought quality, well designed, animal-free footwear into the spotlight. They ship worldwide, with free shipping to the US and Europe.
Price: Around $150 Gym friendly? Not really.
These two brands have been collaborating since 2005, but for me, the inclusion of Parley for the Oceans has been the best addition yet. The yarn in these is from Parley Ocean Plastic that is collected from beaches and coastal communities, making them super eco-friendly.
And did I mention that these much-imitated “Ultraboost” shoes are probably the most comfy trainers you’ll ever try on? After all, they’re so-named ‘for the extra boost you get from the patented cushion – perfect for serious workouts and runs!
Price: Around $150 Gym friendly? Oh yes!
It’s definitely time to get excited about Allbirds! This cult brand is a Certified B Corp, has vegan options, and they are opening their first store in London’s Covent Garden this month.
I’m serious when I say the passion people have for this brand is unreal. They call their shoes “the world’s most comfortable,” and it lives up to the hype. When choosing your style go for the “Tree.” It’s the vegan one, the laces are recycled, and the material is from naturally derived eucalyptus fiber.
Price: Around $150 Gym friendly? They can be.
Po-Zu isn’t yet a fully vegan company, but founder Safia Minney is one of the leaders in the sustainable fashion movement – in fact, she was one of the main stars of “The True Cost” a couple years ago. These low cut vegan sneakers are the perfect street shoe. They’re made from organic cotton and FairTrade rubber from Sri Lanka, so they’re ethical and eco-friendly, too!
Price: Around $150 Gym friendly? Possibly, on the elliptical trainer or bike.
6. NAE Vegan
Sneakers can be tricky for vegans to find because of all the sneaky animal-based products like glue hidden in the shoe. Nae Vegan makes sure absolutely zero animals are harmed from the glue to the lining to the sole. These ethically made shoes were created from recycled car air bags, making them ethical, stylish and sustainable.
Price: Around $125 Gym friendly? No way, José!
Reebok? In this list? Heck yeah! Their latest sneakers are made from an incredible, new vegan material made from cotton and corn fibres. These are the world’s first 75% USDA certified bio-based shoe, so you can feel really good about what you’re wearing, and we love that these are also unisex.
Price: Around $80 Gym friendly? Sure, why not? Try them on the stationary bike or elliptical trainer
Etiko takes classic sneaker styles, and changes how they’re made – namely, ethically and without any cruelty whatsoever. These are styles you’ve probably seen (and worn) before, but this time, the cotton canvas is organic, the rubber is certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council and the production is totally Fair Trade. No wonder their motto is ‘wear no evil’!
Price: $75 Gym friendly? No.
9. Matt + Nat
Matt + Nat have long been at the forefront of the vegan accessories movement, and their Gail sneakers are the perfect classic for any wardrobe. The best part? At under $100, these definitely won’t break the bank. But if you’re not keen on these, they have plenty of other styles – and many of them are unisex, too!
Price: $90 Gym friendly? Not really.
Ahimsa’s Brazilian factories are 100% vegan friendly – apparently the only ones in the world! We love their casual Paola sneakers – inspired by the look of some of the first ever jogging trainers. This style combines different materials and textures to create an unique look on a light and flexible shoe that’s great for everyday use.
Price: $100 Gym friendly? For light exercise, yes.
11. Beyond Skin
You may not want to run around in these high tops, but these chic sneakers will take you far around any city, through all seasons. Using faux leather and recycled rubber in their gorgeous, cruelty-free shoes, Beyond Skin goes the extra mile when it comes to ethics by donating to charities that help facilitate peace, diversity and an end to poverty.
Price: Around $70 Gym friendly? Nope, just fashion friendly!
12. Native Shoes
Native Shoes not only make vegan footwear, which is obviously great for animals, but their styles are also zero waste, 3D knitted constructions, made with recycled threads. We love these Mercury Hologram Shoes, which remind us of unicorns and Pride flags!
13. Puma Ultrasuede
Can you believe this style first debuted in 1968? But amazingly, Puma’s classic suede sneaker still looks slick – and it got a vegan makeover! Sure, they’re not a fully vegan brand, but the label is so committed to sustainability (they’re aiming to make 90% of everything they use totally sustainable by next year), we just had to include them.
The “Re-Suede” version is made of 100% recycled materials, and the outsole is derived from rice husks. Compared with virgin materials, the synthetic textiles used for the Ultrasuede reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions by a whopping 80 percent, according to Puma.
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