Vegan designer shoes: are these the future? While big-name luxury brands might be dragging their feet when it comes to launching leather free looks, vegan designer brands are racing ahead into the future.
Christian Louboutin stated in an interview he doesn’t foresee using vegan leather in the near future, making an incorrect statement about the environmental impacts of vegan leather vs. animal leather (though custom-made vegan Louboutins appear possible). Nor will you find vegan Jimmy Choo shoes just yet.
But thanks to visionary vegans like Rebecca Mink of Mink shoes and Natalie Dean of Beyond Skin, who’ve been making designer vegan shoes for 20+ years, you can get yourself a pair of luxury vegan shoes.
Some of the designer vegan shoe brands I’ll be covering today include:
Read on to find the best vegan fashion shoes from vegan designers, plus a few picks from mainstream luxury shoe brands who are finally starting to dip their toes in the water of vegan leather shoes.
Worn by Miley Cyrus and Leona Lewis, the brand was started by Bebe Roxana. She always wanted a pair of ‘So Kate’ Louboutin vegan shoes but since they weren’t available in a faux leather version, decided to make her own with vegan materials! So if you’re after a pair of vegan Christian Louboutin shoes, get yourself some Cult of Coquette shoes!
These Bianca black satin pumps are a showstopper, with a 4.5 inch stiletto heel, pointed toe and cascading rhinestone fringe.
One of the earliest makers of vegan designer heels, Rebecca Mink founded Mink Shoes over 20 years ago. She faced a lot of challenges in the days before vegan shoes were widely available, including being turned down by multiple factories in Italy who didn't want to work with her. Eventually she found a factory, and today she's part-owner of it! Celebrities like Pamela Anderson, Natalie Portman and Alicia Silverstone were all early adopters of Mink shoes.
Their shoes are made in Italy by the same master shoemakers who make Jimmy Choo, Gucci, Chanel and Louboutin shoes.
Mink is known for its ultra-sparkly heels, though they also have muted solid colored pumps in classic black and other neutral tones. For a statement piece, though, go for the glitter.
Another early entry into the vegan designer shoe scene is Beyond Skin, one of the early vegan luxury brands as it was founded in the UK in 2001. They've seen success over the years, including being worn by Miley Cyrus and Evanna Lynch. Whether you're looking for vegan office shoes or vegan designer boots, Beyond Skin has a wide range of styles. I've had several pairs of Beyond Skin shoes over the years, and they were really good quality. My favourite part is the stamp on the bottom that says 'Genuinely Not Leather'.
To stand out, I love these cute vegan boots in classic black, with cuffs you can fold up or down. With the cuff up, you have an all-black ankle boot. With the cuff folded down, a pop of gold.
Founded in LA in 2018 by Jessica Taylor Mead and Elizabeth Thomas James, their luxury vegan shoes are handcrafted in Italy. They aim to use sustainable materials as much as possible, utilising recycled rubber, FSC-certified wood and castor beans. But this is some seriously stylish recycled rubber and sustainable wood. From pumps to luxury vegan boots, they have a range of different classic styles.
These python print boots with a wax stamp gold pull will add an edge to any outfit.
For really small-scale production, Rafa is a luxury vegan footwear brand designed and hand-crafted by 20 artisans in LA. As such, this vegan leather designer brand naturally has limited stock and often sells out of styles.
The Ruby sock boot is my top pick.
A unique take on luxury shoes, this vegan brand aims to be sustainable by selling not just shoes, but shoe accessories! These are detachable accessories that can be attached to and removed from Veerah shoes, thus making them more versatile (and also becoming more sustainable by allowing you the cut down on the number of shoes). Founder Stacey Chang noticed that when traveling a lot for work she had trouble bringing enough pairs of shoes for all the different events, and realised by changing up one pair of shoes she could make them work in different settings.
Accessories include clip-on brooches for your shoes, plus removable tassels and ankle straps.
This vegan brand was launched by veteran fashion industry insiders, including a former president of Dolce & Gabbana. Their aim is to produce luxury vegan shoes, made by artisans in Italy, that are also sustainable. Celebs such as Emma Roberts and Saoirse Ronan reportedly love them.
Piferi is one of the newer luxury vegan shoe companies. Alfredo Piferi, formerly head of design at Jimmy Choo, launched his new brand of vegan luxury shoes in February 2020 at Milan Fashion Week, bringing vegan shoes into high fashion. One of the most unusual vegan shoe designs you'll find is the Soquette.
One of the most well-known vegetarian designers is Stella McCartney. As a lifelong vegetarian, she eschews all leather and fur from her designs (but her clothes aren't all vegan as she uses wool and silk). Her shoe collection, however, is fully vegan! Whether you're looking for Stella McCartney vegan trainers (like these famous platform trainers) or Stella McCartney vegan boots, she has a wide range of non leather shoes in her online shop.
For whatever reason, vegan designer trainers seem to be the main offering from mainstream fashion houses, while vegan boots and heels seem to be seen as a step too far (pun intended). Balenciaga pushed the envelope of the ugly sneaker trend with their vegan designer sneakers, the Zen sneaker.
You can also find vegan Gucci shoes, again only in sneaker form.
What are vegan shoes?
Vegan shoes are made completely free of animal products like leather, wool and silk. Instead, they use alternative materials like cotton or vegan leather, which in itself can be made from a range of materials. Vegan leather can be made of microfibre or newer vegan leathers include pineapple leather and mango leather, made from leftover waste from the food industry. While vegan shoes are made using different materials, techniques are similar and shoes like Mink Shoes are made by the same shoemakers in Italy who produce mainstream designer brands like Gucci, Chanel and Jimmy Choo shoes.
Does Jimmy Choo have vegan shoes?
No (not yet anyway). However, former Jimmy Choo designer Alfredo Piferi has a vegan shoe brand, the eponymous Piferi. Fashion-forward and runway-ready, Piferi's one to watch.
I suspect that with the launch of vegan brands like Piferi, and vegan shoes now being offered from the likes of Balenciaga, we are going to see more and more vegan designer shoes in the future, whether that's vegan versions of shoes from mainstream designer or new launches of vegan luxury brands as brands like Piferi lead the way.
Are there any Christian Louboutin shoes?
No. You won't find any vegan shoes with the iconic red lacquered sole. However, Cult of Coquette is a vegan brand founded by Bebe Roxana, who started making shoes because she wanted Louboutins and couldn't find them in vegan form! If you're after Louboutin-style stilettos, then go for a pair of Cult of Coquette heels.
What do vegan celebrities wear?
Lots of vegan celebrities eschew wearing animal leather on the red carpet, and choose their shoes from some of the brands on this list. Alicia Silverstone has been spotted in Mink Shoes, and Miley Cyrus in Beyond Skin shoes.
Are vegan shoes well made?
Absolutely, they can be, though of course there's variation as there's a huge range of vegan shoes. On one end, you have budget vegan shoes that just like their non-leather counterparts may fall apart fairly quickly. On the other hand, you have brands like Mink Shoes, whose heels are produced by the same artisan shoemakers in Italy who make Louboutins and Jimmy Choo shoes.
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What's your favourite vegan designer shoe brand?