When I turned vegan back in November 2016, the last thing I was thinking about was footwear. I was more concerned with buying vegan-friendly food! Footwear was something I thought more about as time went on. I realised I had a lot of leather shoes, and wondered what the general opinion was on a vegan wearing leather that they bought pre-veganism. Turns out, most vegans think it’s fine to wear the leather you bought before switching lifestyle. That is, as long as you don’t buy any new leather items after going vegan. Some prefer to get rid of their old vegan clothing and shoes. However, it’s really all down to your personal preference.
There are a lot of common misconceptions about vegan footwear. ‘Vegan shoes aren’t as good quality as leather shoes’, ‘they won’t last as long’, and ‘they’re ugly looking things that no fashionable person would wear’. These claims are mostly false, though I have seen some sad looking vegan shoes at points. Luckily, there are a lot more pretty vegan shoes out there than ugly! It’s true that they’re harder to access in high street stores, but online they’re much easier to find. Here are some of my cruelty-free footwear favourites:
Perhaps one of the best major brands for vegan footwear, Doc Martens has a whole collection of cruelty-free shoes, from the classic 8-eyelet boots to the chunky strap sandals. I own the classic Doc Martens shoe, the 1461s in black. These 1461’s are available in sizes 3 to 13, and cost exactly the same as its leather counterpart.
The 1461s are suitable to wear year-round in any kind of weather. They can be worn casually every day, or semi-formally for work situations. They’re made with an unspecified ‘synthetic material’ and are stitched together rather than glued – a lot of the glue used to glue shoes together contains animal products, so this is something to be aware of before purchasing something that looks vegan, but is not specified as vegan.
The shoes are well-made and sturdy, as expected from a brand like Doc Martens. It is commonly known that Doc Martens take a bit of breaking in before they become totally comfortable, and this is no different for the vegan style shoe. The first few times I wore these shoes I ended up with blisters all over my feet, especially at the back near my heel! I would recommend wearing thick socks for the first few wears, and don’t give up on breaking them in! Once they’re broken in, they’re an absolute dream to wear, and super easy to style.
A newer purchase of mine, specifically for my holiday! The Birkenstock Arizona’s are incredibly comfortable, easy to style, and perfect for any casual outing in summer. You can literally pair these shoes with anything. In Majorca, I would wear them to the pool, to the beach, and out to dinner. However, they came through for me the most on my day trip to Palma De Mallorca, where I was wandering around all day and they never once hurt me. With the way the sandals are structured, the sole seems to massage your feet as you walk! It is not something I can describe well through a blog, but if you are ever passing by a Birkenstock shop or even an Office shop, maybe pop in and ask to try them on – then you’ll know.
Not many physical stores stock the vegan range of Birkenstocks, but I would highly recommend going into Birkenstock or Office to try on their non-vegan shoes just for size. I found that the Birkenstocks fit quite big, and I believe that this is because they are made to typical European sizes. For example, I am always a UK size 4, but the Birkenstock UK sizes are mostly made up of half-measures (i.e. 3.5, 4.5, etc). The 4.5’s were too large for me, and instead, I had to opt for the 3.5’s (or European size 36).
The vegan Birkenstock Arizona’s come in 4 colours; Stone (off-white), Anthracite (light black), Olive (dark green), and Bordeaux (red), and range in sizes from 2.5 to 11.5 (UK). If the Arizona style is not your favourite, there are a number of other Birkenstock styles that may appeal to you more.
Koi is a brand that is not as well known as some of the other brands mentioned in this post, but it is one of my new favourites! I currently own two pairs of shoes from Koi. Whenever I want to get some new shoes now, Koi is always the first place I look. They sell affordable, 100% undoubtedly vegan shoes in a huge range of styles. Typically, their shoes range in sizes from a UK 3 to UK 8.
These white sandals are an absolute dream to wear in spring and summer. If white isn’t your favourite colour for shoes, they also come in black! As the shoes are platformed, they are super comfortable and it takes a while for your feet to get tired when wearing them.
On holiday in Majorca, I wore these sandals a lot in the evenings as they suit both casual and dressy events. Koi Footwear’s description of the shoe on their website states that the sandals are ‘the ultimate classic sandal, you can’t go wrong‘, and I wholeheartedly agree with this statement.
If these particular shoes are not your style, I highly recommend giving the Koi website a browse. As mentioned previously, Koi has a massive range of shoes for an independent brand, and absolutely all of them are vegan. If that’s not tempting enough, Koi almost always have some kind of discount available to all customers (at the time of writing this, it’s 30% off everything!!) and for a brand that is already affordable…? Why are you still reading this!?!
Though not advertised as vegan, the Nike Free Rn trainers are 100% animal free and make great gym shoes. The Free Rn Trainers can be worn casually, despite being marketed as running shoes. Like the other shoes in this list, they are comfortable, durable, and easy to style.
In typical Nike fashion, they have the standard, full-priced “adult” version of the trainers, which range in size from UK 5.5 to 13, and the cheaper, junior version of the shoe that range in size from UK 3 to 6. I have the juniors as I am a UK size 4. As far as I can tell there is no difference other than the price point.
Feel free to leave your recommendations in the comments as I love trying new things. I hope you’re all having a great day, and that you will be back for more posts in the future. If you want to read more fashion-related posts, click here.
Love, Flossie ♡