Living the vegan lifestyle is not just about what you eat these days, but what you wear. To meet the demands of this growing group, the footwear industry has stepped up to the plate with a range of fashion-forward options that are vegan-friendly.
For those unfamiliar with the meaning of veganism, The Vegan Society, a U.K.-based group founded in 1944, defines it as a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.
Since some vegans are also environmentalists, they will also shy away from cotton since it may have been harvested with pesticides that can be harmful to the environment and animals. Here, only organic cotton will do. And, some vegans add petroleum products such as faux leathers to their list of fashion non-nos.
There are plenty of options today as consumers, from Millenials to Baby Boomers, become more committed to protecting the planet. But buyer beware. When it comes to shoe shopping, diehard vegans need to do their homework before stepping into a pair of shoes tagged vegan by the manufacturer since there are many gray areas.
MooShoes in New York and Los Angeles is a well known destination for cruelty-free footwear, bags, books and other accessories. You might be surprised just what brands are in their shoe assortment. There’s Dr. Martens, Superga, NoSox, BC Footwear and Madden Girl, in addition to specialty brand Vegetarian Shoes. And, if don’t happen to live in either city, it’s easy to shop online at Mooshoes.com.
Another online shop is Veganchic.com, focused on bringing vegan fashion to the mainstream. While the term vegan may bring to mind granola-crunching footwear styles, the etailer has a wide range of looks that include sandals from Oka-B to high heel pumps s from Olsen Haus.
Even mainstream footwear retailers such as Zappos.com offer a wider range of vegan styles. According to the site, there are currently 962 items available listed as vegan.
Brands such as outdoor lifestyle collection Jambu are also doing their vegan share. According to Yetzalee Mazza, director of marketing, shoes considered vegan by the company do not contain any animal byproducts from materials to the glue. And, for those environmentalists out there, all packaging is recycled and recyclable.
When BC Footwear rebranded this spring, it made a huge effort to include more vegan-friendly options, said marketing manger Brittanie Murch. “Looking at who [our] consumer was and what she was interested in,” prompted the additional vegan styles, she explained.
Murch also noted that the company doesn’t compromise on fashion when putting the collection together and the same treatment techniques used for genuine leather and suede are used for the vegan versions resulting in softer, supple materials that traditional polyurethane, a popular non-leather material used for shoes. According to Murch, all vegan-friendly footwear is noted with an icon and labeling on the box.