What Materials Are Used In Vegan Shoes?
Materials Used In Vegan Shoes
When people hear the word “vegan“, their thoughts automatically drift to the vegan diet. We all know that a vegan diet consists of plant-based foods and grains. NO ANIMAL CONTENT. However, many people don’t realize that the vegan movement also extends to things like clothing and apparel. Vegan shoes are one such clothing item. Some people simply can’t bear the idea of wearing something that came from an animal and vegan-friendly material can be just as long-lasting and strong as materials such as leather.
To give you an idea of the types of materials that can be used in vegan shoes, we’ve put together a list of some of the most known ones. We’ve split them up into synthetic and natural materials.
PVC – Polyvinyl Chloride – Back in the 1970s this material was used to make a variety of different things that used to be made of leather. That’s right. PVC is the ultimate in fake leather for furniture, clothing, car seats, and even shoes. PVC is cruelty-free but unfortunate, it can emit toxins and production isn’t eco-friendly. PVC is usually used in rain boots and jelly shoes production.
Microfiber – This material is usually a blend of natural and synthetic fibers, although synthetics seem to be more commonly used to make vegan shoes. These fibers are usually made of nylon, polyurethane or polyamide. These materials can be manipulated to resemble suede and leather making them a great choice for vegan shoes.
Microsuede – This is a man-made polyester fabric that looks and feels like suede. This is due to the microscopically thin fibers. Microsuede is used in many different industries such as clothing and furniture manufacturing, but it is also useful in making footwear. It is durable and stylish enough for good quality shoes, including vegan shoes. However, if you have a tendency to wash your shoes in the washing machine, be aware that the fibers are not biodegradable and will be flushed into water supplies and oceans during your machine’s draining cycles.
Gore-Tex – Gore-Tex is one vegan material that is an absolute winner when it comes to making shoes. This material is lightweight, breathable, and waterproof making them ideal for sporting and hiking shoes. While this material is exceptionally high quality, the materials needed to produce Gore-Tex shoes are not really sustainable.
Polyurethane – If you like the durability and look of leather but refuse to wear animal hide shoes, vegan leather is a fantastic alternative. Vegan leather is made from a synthetic blend mainly comprised of polyurethane. This material is used for making the uppers of shoes, but can also be used for the soles. This is a great cruelty-free substitute for real leather, but the manufacturing process isn’t exactly good for the environut.
Recycled PET Bottles – It’s hard to imagine using recycled plastic bottles to make shoes but here we are. Although this recycled material is mainly used for the soles, there are some innovative footwear manufacturers who are using recycled PET bottles to make stunning shoes that don’t look plastic at all. These shoes are surprisingly durable, machine washable and are eco-friendly specifically because they involve re-using a manufactured product.
Pineapple Leather – One vegan material that is enjoying increasing popularity in recent years is pineapple leather or Pinatex. This material is made from the leaves of pineapple plants so it is not only plant-based but eco-friendly as well. This is because the producers of pinatex are using the leaves which would have otherwise been discarded or destroyed after the fruit has been harvested. Pineapple leather is lightweight and breathable. It is also quite strong making it a great material for vegan shoes.
Cork – Most women will have owned a pair of heeled shoes made of cork at one point. This natural material is also used inside the soles of many other shoes as well. Cork is lightweight and breathable but the real magic is in its biodegradability which is in no way harmful to the environment. It’s also antibacterial which is perfect for footwear. The only downside to cork is that some people don’t like how it looks. Cork is most frequently used in the production of soles for wedges.
Biobased Polyurethane – The newest innovation to using polyurethane to make vegan shoes is biobased polyurethane. This wonder substance is made from the starches of forage corn. Forage corn is inedible but very sustainable so this makes it a cruelty-free and eco-friendly alternative for vegan footwear. It is breathable, lightweight, and waterproof which is exactly what you want in a pair of shoes.
Natural Rubber – There are two types of rubber used to make shoes – natural and synthetic. Synthetic rubber is man-made from various substances, whereas natural rubber is extracted from the rubber tree. This material, which comes from the rubber tree, can be used for different parts of shoes. It is durable and completely sustainable making it perfect for vegan shoes.
Cotton/Canvas – Who didn’t have a pair of cotton or canvas shoes at least once in their lives? These are, after all, the ultimate in summer sneakers, espadrilles, and loafers. Cotton canvas is completely plant-based and natural, biodegradable, and breathable. It’s also easy to grow, making it sustainable as well.
Waxed Canvas – Nothing says waterproof better than waxed canvas and this material is often used for breathable walking and hiking shoes. However, the jury is out on this one depending on the waxing process. If natural beeswax is used to wax the canvas, it is no longer vegan. However, the canvas has been waxed with paraffin, then the vegan label can be applied.
Seeds & Grains – As odd as it may sound, seeds and grains are very popular in the vegan diet and as part of a vegan shoe. These seeds and grains are being used to make bio-polyols for linings and more and more shoes are featuring this natural material.
If you are a vegan and want to make conscious choices when purchasing food and clothing, you have a wide variety of materials to choose from when shopping for vegan shoes. Just make sure you read the labels as some are better for animals and the environment than others.