The vegan movement is the practice of not eating or using products that come from animals. These days, more and more people are becoming vegan. And many industries are changing for the better thanks to pressure from their customers.
One of these industries is the footwear industry. Famed for typically non-vegan products like leather boots and wool lining, now famous footwear brands have started sourcing new and more innovative fabrics for their products.
Keep reading to discover more about the vegan lifestyle and how it’s transforming the footwear industry.
What is a vegan
Typically, a vegan is a person who abstains from eating animal products and using any animal product.
The decision to become vegan can be highly personal, and there are various motivators.
The most well-known, of course, is compassion towards sentient beings. Many people feel uncomfortable knowing that a cow has been reared and killed for their leather shoes — especially this day in age when there are so many vegan footwear alternatives.
Some people also go vegan for environmental reasons. The production of meat and animal-based textiles is a huge burden on our planet. It takes many crops and water to feed these animals, let alone the labour and transportation that gets them from coop to closet.
And finally, some vegans eat plant-based diets for health reasons.
What is the difference between a vegan and a vegetarian
Typically, a vegetarian still eats animal by-products like milk and eggs, while a vegan doesn’t. However, some vegetarians also decide not to eat wear leather as they believe killing a cow for a pair of shoes is as unethical as eating a burger.
Different types of vegans
Veganism comes in different shapes, and we understand that everyone is on their own journey to veganism.
While, in an ideal world, we could all abstain entirely from meat and animal-based products, as a society, we’re not quite there yet.
Even if you’re not ready to start living a fully vegan lifestyle, there are little changes you can make that have a huge impact.
Just like switching your regular ice cream for a pint of vegan Ben & Jerry’s, choosing vegan sneakers is equally easy.
Actually, it feels like a sweet treat.
There are so many independent vegan fashion brands that are creating gorgeous designs using innovative vegan textiles.
Gone is the perception that vegan fashion is all about hippy trousers and hemp skirts.
No matter what your style, it’s easy to find vegan clothes that suit you.
And be inspired by them, too.
Clothing that vegans avoid
When most people begin their vegan journey, it takes a while to realize how many of their closet essentials aren’t vegan friendly.
Of course, we all know textiles like fur and crocodile skin must be out. But that’s only the beginning.
In the knitwear department, the wool, shearling, cashmere, angora, and merino industries have cruel practices. Plus, these industries are unsustainable and contribute to climate change. So instead, try a vegan knitwear brand like tentree who makes vegan knitwear and sweaters using sustainable material in ethical factories.
For outerwear, the main area to consider is the padding and trims. You might think your puffer jacket is fine. But that down lining is made of feathers that are plucked from birds while they’re alive.
Then there are the fluffy hoods that are often made with real fur.
Brands like Noize create cozy parkas as warm as down with luxurious hoods and are completely vegan and sustainable.
Footwear is made of different layers. And at each one, you’ll find a material that’s harmful to animals and the environment.
From the leather upper to plastic soles, the materials that go into your favourite shoes are huge planet polluters.
It’s pretty scary when you think about it!
Here at LØCI, we create our vegan sneakers using vegan leather made from ocean plastic. A far cry from planet-polluting PVC, this material reverses the damage to the planet.
Plus, they’re stylish and come in various styles to suit everyone.
The vegan footwear industry
The vegan footwear industry was once a niche market. The main vegan footwear material was either PVC or cotton. 2 materials with zero sustainability credentials! However, these days it’s changed. Finally, we can get vegan sneakers, boots, and high heels in designs and quality materials that make us question why we only call leather “the real deal”?
The old days of vegan footwear textiles
Many ethical vegans are also environmentalists by nature. Prior to the rise of sustainable vegan fabrics, many of these vegans were demotivated by the choices they had to make.
There was vegan leather, named pleather, of course. But it looked cheap, nasty, and wouldn’t stand the seasons. This meant buying new shoes more often and sending more old shoes to landfills.
But, of course, the alternative is wearing leather. When you consider that over a billion animals are killed every year for the leather industry, and that’s not just cows but also cats and dogs, you realize it’s not an option.
Is leather a by-product of the meat industry?
There’s a common misconception that leather is a by-product of the meat industry and okay to wear. But it’s not that simple.
The softest, most luxurious leathers come from lambs and calves. These animals are farmed mainly for their skins, with their meat being just a by-product.
As more and more people decide to be vegan, the sales of beef are decreasing. And because of that, farmers are turning to leather to compensate. So if we all consciously boycott the leather industry, then we’re saying no to the meat industry, too.
The new age of innovative vegan textiles
Luckily, there are so many more choices now. The new vegan leather alternatives deserve accolades all of their own.
First up is our recycled ocean plastic leather. Call us biased, but this is a multipurpose dream. We created vegan sneakers that aren’t just kind to animals but also remove the plastic from the ocean.
Every pair saves 20 plastic bottles from polluting the planet.
Our vegan leather is a premium offering that doesn’t try to imitate. We’re reinventing the footwear industry, not copying. And isn’t it an old-fashioned idea that leather is the only nice textile for footwear?
Next up is Mylo, a type of leather made from fungal vegetation that grows beneath our feet. The result is vegan leather which is easy to harvest, soft, supple, and similar to leather.
Then there’s Pinatex, a type of vegan leather made from waste pineapple leaf fibber. It’s 100% animal-free and better for the planet, too.
Big brands and vegan leather
One of the first big fashion brands to be vocal about vegan textiles was Stella McCartney. Since debuting as a designer, she has never used leather, feather, fur, or skin and has been proof that luxury fashion can be cruelty-free.
For a long time, she was one of the only vocal vegans in the fashion industry, and it felt like it would take a long time for the rest of the world to follow suit.
Now, even the world’s biggest brands are launching their own vegan offerings.
Adidas has recently released its cult-classic Stan Smiths sneakers in a vegan version made of Mylo leather.
Nike has partnered with Pinatex to launch its own Happy Pineapple vegan sneaker collection.
Although these brands aren’t fully vegan in their day-to-day operations, they are undoubtedly the world’s largest sneakers brands with massive influence.
This is huge publicity for vegan footwear. Now, people who have never considered wearing vegan sneakers will be asking questions like, “what is vegan leather?”
This could be the move that makes vegan sneakers part of the mainstream.
The future of vegan footwear
A vegan lifestyle is fantastic for the environment, the animals, and your health. These days, with its popularity, it’s easy to find vegan products that aren’t just alternatives but stand on their own as well, from footwear to ice cream and cheese.
We hope that one day in the future, the world’s largest footwear brands are 100% vegan. But for now, we’re happy with the publicity that their tiny vegan sneaker collections bring.
If you want to support a brand that’s devoted to creating stylish and luxurious vegan sneakers, then don’t miss our LØCI shop!