March 04, 2019 at 08:34AM by CWC
Whether you live a cruelty-free lifestyle or want to make a few small changes with the planet in mind, vegan shoe brands are a great place to start in the wardrobe department. Going beyond cool sneakers and slip-on sandals (brands like Birkenstock and Vans have been making vegan styles for years), myriad labels are popping up and delivering on non-granola styles.
“It’s so wonderful that consumers are demanding stylish, ethical, and sustainable shoe options because there are so many great choices now,” says Rachael Wang, a stylist and brand consultant who recently transitioned to a cruelty-free wardrobe. “The vegan Birkenstock Arizona is one of the first shoes I leaned heavily on when I first transitioned to a cruelty-free wardrobe,” she shares. Over a year later, the fashion insider has discovered a few new favorites: “I love Rafa for their sassy-heeled sandals in fun colors, which are equally great with worn out Levi’s or a sweet sundress. Sydney Brown makes great ‘work’ shoes [that are] stylish but polished and comfortable—I especially love their mules. Matt & Nat makes my favorite vegan boots.”
A life-long fan of Dr. Martens (the brand has a super solid vegan selection), Wang forecasts the label as an ethical front-runner for 2019. “I rotate between the six-eyelet matte black low top, the 16-eyelet combat boot and the pull tab Chelsea boot (which will be big for fall if Celine-alum Daniel Lee’s first runway collection at Bottega Veneta is any indication).”
From nostalgic ‘90s sandals to ultra-chic ankle boots and wear-everywhere mules, ahead, 10 vegan shoe brands to shop now.
Rafa The Simple Sandal, $350
For minimalist ’90s-inspired sandals, Rafa’s signature silhouette features a comfortable block heel in bouncy colors and metallic shades. The Los Angeles-based brand also offers made-to-order mules, pumps, boots, flats, and wedges in a playful range of colors and fabrics—all made from recycled vegan textiles.
2. Susi Studio
Susi Studio Janis Mules, $115
Founded and designed by Bianca Moran Parkes, Susi Studio is a Los Angeles-based company delivering on wear-anywhere sandals, mules, and boots sans embellishment. For dressed-up occasions, the brand’s ankle-strap pumps and block-heel sandals are sleek and versatile. Each style is made from recycled, animal-free materials.
3. Beyond Skin
Based in the English seaside town of Brighton, this luxury vegan shoe line offers a range of classic-meets-modern footwear—the animal print kitten-heel boots, party-perfect metallic heels, and block-heeled mules are major standouts. Made in Alicante, Spain, this animal-free line uses luxury Italian vegan leather, recycled microfiber suede, cream lacquered resin soles, recycled faux-leather lining with a vegetable polymer coating, and a collection of vintage-inspired woven fabrics in its designs. The brand also counts Natalie Portman as a fan.
4. Matt & Nat
Matt & Nat Joan Mule, $110
This buzzy ethical fashion brand is known for its signature vegan leathers and eco-friendly materials like recycled nylon, cork, and rubber to craft its versatile lineup of sneakers, mules, boots, and more. Designed by a close-knit team in Montreal, Quebec, the company is committed to values rooted in social responsibility, excellence, inclusiveness, integrity, learning, authenticity, and love. The current collection tops out at $175 with many styles coming in under $100.
For fun-colored pumps and sandals in a spectrum of shades, Fair is a go-to for completely animal-free design. Founded by Carina Boavida and ethically produced in Portugal, the company seeks out the most sustainable materials possible and ensures worker-friendly conditions for all employees.
Every modem wardrobe calls for a fashion-forward sneaker and this French brand is a fashion-crowd favorite. Using fair-trade materials like organic cotton and natural rubber from the Amazonian rainforest, as well as innovative fabrics like upcycled and biodegradable faux-leather made out of corn waste, and B-mesh (which is a fabric made out recycled plastic bottles), this socially responsible brand is a must for clean-but-cool kicks with a retro feel.
7. Nomadic State of Mind
For expertly-crafted artisanal sandals, Nomadic State of Mind specializes in handwoven silhouettes made out of rope. Available in an array of colors and styles from lace-ups to slip-ons, each pair is machine washable and dryable. Pair them unexpectedly with feminine dresses for a fresh (and not-at-all granola) vibe.
Nicora Tarana Heel, $108
Based on science, founded on ethics, and run by women, Nicora offers a range of everyday footwear made from 100-percent vegan leather (made out of plant waste) and recycled materials that are crafted in both the U.S. and Italy. With their ecological impact in mind, the brand does comfortable ballet flats and block-heel pumps best—the pumps feature 100-percent recycled soles and are made in a unionized and third-party-verified ethical factory in Italy.
9. Sydney Brown
Founded in 2011 on the ethos that luxury could be produced in an environmentally friendly way, Sydney Brown designs pared-back, Japanese-inspired footwear free of animal products in every way (including non-animal fat glues developed in-house by adhesive chemists and heels made out of sustainably harvested German beech wood—innovative!). With ultra-sleek boots and mules as standout silhouettes, each style is handcrafted at a state-of-the-art factory near Porto, Portugal, which is committed to sustainability, as well as high performance and new technology constructions.
Veerah Frida Pump, $268
Veerah—derived from the Sanskrit word for warrior—is a PETA-approved vegan shoe line, founded by Stacey Chang. Offering a classic lineup of pumps, each shoe is built for comfort and made out of a unique vegan leather that’s made out of apples harvested in Italy.