What Does It Really Mean To Be a ‘Vegan’ Shoe?

As vegan footwear increases in popularity, the more options consumers have. But with more options, shoppers need to up their due diligence on what it really means to be a vegan shoe.

Since the market has been flooding with alternatives to leather and fur as of late, many companies are banking on synthetic materials to connect with the eco-conscious consumer. However, even if a shoe brand is not using leather or wool, for example, there still may be non-vegan fibers and materials being used.

The Facts 

According to Peta, “vegan” means that no animal-derived products, including but not limited to fur, leather, silk, down or wool, are used,  produced and distributed.

For brand BC Footwear, who recently has been approved to tote the “PETA-Approved Vegan” logo, extra measures have been taken to guarantee its products are animal-free.

Said president Sari Ratsula, “To ensure [this], all of the inner components of BC shoes, including the counter pocket, linings, and comfort features, are made with high quality, vegan synthetics. We also use shoe glue that is free of casein, gelatin, or any other animal derivatives.”

BC Footwear Vegan shoes
BC Footwear vegan leather mule.
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand

On the Rise

Due to the advancement of alternative materials and influence from advocates, including Miley Cyrus and Emma Watson, the synthetic market is seeing much progress.

According to a 2017 report conducted by Grand View Research Inc., the global synthetic-leather market is expected to reach $85.05 billion by 2025. The footwear category in particular is expected to show the fastest growth over the next nine years, with an approximated compound annual growth rate of 9.7 percent from 2016 to 2025.

Ratsula credits growth to the improvements in the quality. She said, “When casual looks are warranted, we treat our vegan products to have a unique, high and low burnishing effect that mimics the quality, look and feel of fine casual leathers.”

And along with the cruelty-free aspect, manufacturing for vegan shoes is environmentally friendly.

“A lot of times people assume that synthetic leathers are bad for the environment to manufacture, but in actuality, vegan shoes leave a smaller carbon footprint to produce,” Ratsula said. “It takes 20 percent less energy to manufacture vegan leather than animal leather, and it conserves Amazon rainforests because it doesn’t require land to graze cattle.”

The Pay Off

With a Peta-approved vegan logo, shoppers are able to make purchases aligned with their values at a glance and without any questioning. It’s paid off for companies such as BC Footwear.

The California-based brand, under parent company Seychelles Imports, LLC, has seen significant growth within the vegan community via social media as well as a 25 percent increase in online sales compared to last year now that the company is Peta-certified.

“The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive with both our wholesale and direct to consumer channels,” she said.

BC Footwear Vegan boots
BC Footwear vegan red bootie.’
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand

Other companies using the “PETA-Approved Vegan” logo include Rungg Shoes, Nae, Veerah, T.U.K. shoes and more.

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