Although many people simply focus on the use of leather in footwear, truly vegan shoes should have no animal products at all used in their manufacture and that includes the glue that is used. However, not all vegan shoes are eco-friendly, because the manufacturers have simply replaced animal products with synthetic products, some of which are notorious for the impact on the environment they have. So, if you want to buy vegan shoes, how do you know they are vegan, and how can tell if they are eco-friendly? Here’s a quick guide on what to look for when you are shopping for vegan shoes and vegan trainers.
Do a visual check
You can usually rule out some footwear very quickly just by doing a quick physical inspection. Check all over the shoe, including the upper, the inner, the shoe laces and the soles. There can sometimes be suede used on the insides of shoes as well. Synthetic materials can be made to look like leather, but you can still usually tell the difference if you look closely.
Check the label
The next step is to filter out those shoes are quite obviously not vegan and are not even trying to pretend to be. Most shoes and trainers do have a label that describes what the shoe made of and shoe manufacturers are usually quite proud to advertise the fact that their footwear is made of leather, so that is not too difficult to find out. Unfortunately, shoe labels often also include the term “other materials”, which of course is not particularly helpful if you are looking for vegan shoes.
Do your research
No disrespect to shop assistants, but it is unlikely that a store assistant will know what materials have been used in shoes, so if you want to be 100% sure that you are buying vegan shoes, you are going to have to do your research or ask the manufacturer. You can contact the customer services department of a shoe store to find out of a shoe is vegan and made out of sustainable materials, but you are still relying on the knowledge of the customer service representative, and on their honesty and integrity.
Search online for vegan footwear
There are some companies that specialise in supplying ethically produced vegan footwear and the best way to find them is to do a search online. You will then be able to find out, not only what the company’s vegan shoes are actually made of, but also what the company’s ethos and philosophy is, which can be just as important to some people as simply buying vegan shoes is.
A good example of a company that sells vegan shoes and ethically produced clothing is Komodo. Their vegan shoes and trainers are manufactured with eco upper fibres or organic cotton uppers, the soles of the shoes are made from recycled tyres, and the insoles are made from recycled PU. Even the glue is guaranteed not to contain any animal products, so Komodo vegan shoes and vegan trainers
really are 100% vegan.
So, knowing for sure that you are buying vegan shoes or vegan trainers that have been manufactured in a sustainable fashion and in fair factory conditions is not quite as simple as you may have thought, and it is a certainly not as simple as it should be. Unfortunately, your best bet is to research the manufacture first and then look at the shoes, because you probably can’t rely on the label alone.