I can’t deny – shoes are amazing. They can complete an outfit, add a splash of color to your all-black attire or even make you appear taller than you are. Taking a trip once every few months to DSW is one of the shopping trips I look forward to most, as there are rows upon rows of options for footwear. However, my love for shoes leads to one of my biggest gripes with the fashion industry – the lack of options of cruelty-free footwear. It can seem nearly impossible to find a shoe that is not made of leather, suede or fur. Ever since I decided to fully dedicate myself to vegetarianism in early high school, I also decided to fully commit to wearing cruelty-free clothing and footwear. This meant giving away my beloved Uggs (which I might add is a brand that may be one of the cruelest of them all) and choosing my new shoes wisely.
Shoes are often made of leather, suede or real fur because these materials supposedly hold up better than others, making these shoes last years longer than shoes that are not made of these materials. And, I must admit that is true – many of the cruelty-free footwear I have owned have fallen apart in under two years. Sometimes, cruelty-free footwear can even appear less appealing than the shoes with real leather or real suede. Faux-suede boots often are flimsy, and the soles on shoes not made with animal materials can wear out much faster, hurting your feet. But are any of these reasons to put aside your beliefs regarding animal rights?
If you are struggling with this same issue, you are not alone. Many animal lovers out there feel they have a lack of options when it comes to footwear. It isn’t easy to find cruelty-free footwear, which is why even those who are deeply committed to animal rights activism may still have a pair of suede boots. Fortunately, there are some brands out there that are on your side. If all else fails, be sure to check the labels online and in-store when buying shoes. “Man-made” or “synthetic” upper (the top of the shoe) or sole (the bottom of the shoe) means materials like rubber were used to create the shoe as opposed to animal products. Nonetheless, here are three companies that make vegan, cruelty-free footwear:
Toms is a popular company, and while many of their styles do include leather or suede, there is an entire vegan section on their website! The vegan shoe section features a variety of shoe styles that are made with faux materials. Personally, I love the classic vegan Toms. Tip: if you’re buying Toms in-store, it’s pretty easy to spot the vegan Toms – the vegan shoes have a canvas-like sole, while the leather ones look like leather and have lines that curve along the foot!
Moo Shoes was one of the first cruelty-free shoe brands I discovered at the beginning of this journey. Based out of New York, Moo Shoes is committed to creating cruelty-free shoes for men and women. I am obsessed with their vegan Dr. Martens – I would love to have multiple pairs! Although their shoes are a bit pricey, they’re very fashionable! Plus, who could argue with cruelty-free, high-quality footwear?
Susi Studio is not only committed to making cruelty-free footwear – their shoes are often made of faux leather produced from recycled plastic bottles! By recycling plastic bottles to create shoes, Susi Studio is clearly an up-and-coming company that cares about our planet. Although they only sell women’s footwear, their options are super stylish and won’t burn a hole in your wallet!