If you are here, you are trying to figure out how to buy animal free shoes, which is excellent. Vegan Kicks is here to help! Here are a few steps you can take to figure out whether your shoes are in fact vegan:
1. Do a physical inspection before you buy
this seems pretty obvious, but it only takes a few seconds and is the best way to rule out shoes that contain leather. Inspect the the ENTIRE upper. Look at the tongue, heel, tabs, laces, and all branding. Then inspect the inner. If you are buying online, this is crucial. If the site does not allow for you to do a 360° visual, I would proceed with extreme caution. I have made the mistake of buying a canvas shoe only to find out that there was a suede patch on the inside leg of the shoe. There has also been a perturbing trend of canvas shoes containing leather inners (e.g. TOMS).
Make sure that nothing looks like leather or suede. If it is questionable, we recommend erring on the side of caution and passing on it. However, if you’re not sure…
2. Check the tag
when you buy in store, many times the display model will contain a handy sticker or label on the heel, tongue, or insole with a pictorial representation of the materials used.
The key here is checking for the “leather” symbol, which disturbingly looks like a animal hide splayed out. If you see this, pass. Textile or synthetic material is a go, even if the material looks like leather. That means it is synthetic (hopefully it isn’t mislabeled).
The “other materials” is more confusing, as it is deliberately ambiguous. You simply don’t know what that means. This label usually describes the outsole, which is typically not made out of animals. The glue, however, could be. So you have to be careful here. If you are a stickler, you might want to just say no until you can get confirmation from the source, which leads you to the next step…
3. Check with the company who makes the shoe:
this is how we do most of our research here. There’s nothing like getting the word from the source itself. Whether you are willing to trust the source is another matter, but the bottom line is that this is probably the most reliable and conscience freeing way to make your purchase.
We would recommend shooting customer service a quick, easily understood email. I have never had a problem with someone understanding the term “vegan,” but just in case, I always clarify – i.e. contain no animal products in any part of the shoe, including the glue. We would not recommend relying solely on customer service of the store you’re buying from. Oftentimes they don’t know what they’re talking about, and even when you get a straight answer, you have to take it with a grain of salt. However, some sellers like Zappos and smaller mom and pop places have great customer service and will go out of the way to find the answer for you. So it is really up to you, but we here like to email the company directly.
4. Ask Us!
We here at Vegan Kicks are dedicated to providing you with the scoop on fresh vegan kicks on the regular. We like to think we know what we are talking about when it comes to vegan shoes, but we are always surprised with how much we don’t know. If you have any questions, we would love to help. Just email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or tweet at us (@vegankicks).
Good luck, and thanks for reading!