Blog: Choosing vegan shoes or handbags
When we make a commitment to reduce or eliminate the use of animal products in our day-to-day lives, we realize that our habits and behaviors require an acute consciousness that we may not had adopted to such an extent in the past. Suddenly, our attention diverts away from our diet and we begin to ask questions about everyday things that surround us.
This is usually when we notice our choice of clothing, and all eyes are on shoes and bags. We’ve said it before: the fashion industry is one of the worst offenders when it comes to animal cruelty, many of us know about fur, but few of us consider leather. Luckily, non-leather options for shoes and bags are easy to find in almost any major store, so making the switch isn’t necessarily difficult.
Identify if it’s vegan first
Almost every country enforces consumer protection laws that require manufacturers to disclose their products’ material composition. That means that as a consumer, you have the right to know exactly which materials were used to make anything you own and this information has to be readily available. Bags will usually have this information printed on a label inside, make sure to check the pockets if you don’t see it right away.
Shoes, on the other hand, are a little trickier because materials are usually disclosed with symbols. Recognize this?
This is the official sticker you’re likely to find on the bottom of the sole of new shoes. The way it works is that shoes are manufactured in three parts: the upper, the lining (or sock) and the sole. The left-hand side of the image represents those three sections, respectively. The right-hand side identifies what materials are used for each section. The universal symbols are as follows:
If you see the middle two symbols, you’re looking at vegan shoes. If the shoes you bought don’t have that sticker on the sole, you can also check inside the heal or under the tongue of the shoe.
Vegan material options
Now that you’re sure the bag or shoes you’ve been eyeing don’t contain any animal products, there’s a second question you need to ask yourself: what is it made of, really? There are a ton of vegan materials out there. Fake or imitation leather has been around for almost a century and it’s animal advocacy that opened the door wide open for its popularity. But there are some serious drawbacks associated with “traditional” non-leather options so in recent years, some other, more ethical options have been emerging. Let’s break down the polarity surrounding vegan leather.
Conveniently vegan materials:
We are surrounded by these, and I’m sure you know them very well: polyester, nylon, rayon, vinyl are all examples of conveniently vegan materials. They’re durable, affordable and widely popular for those reasons, but they’re also basically made of plastic combined with other harsh chemicals. Faux leather is usually a variation of vinyl, which is also a petroleum-based material. This means these materials are also hugely polluting.
Easy to find
Very polluting manufacturing process
Encourages “fast fashion” due to affordability
Purposefully vegan materials:
Luckily, eco-friendly, sustainable and vegan fabrics are starting to emerge. It’s amazing to see how many possibilities exist like paper, recycled plastic bottles or rubber, wax-coated fabrics and so many others. Several brands are dedicating themselves to these exclusively like Matt & Nat or Vegan Chic. A simple Google search will provide you with tons of options
Lots of choice of brands and style
Can be slightly more expensive
Not easy to identify in stores
No matter what you believe in or your reasons for being veg*an, your clothing options are wide. Let’s all start to work on living a more conscious lifestyle, learning where our fashion, not only food, comes from and making the most compassionate and sustainable choices.
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