Up until a mere few years ago, the thought of being able to buy vegan shoes that could be considered ‘luxury items’ was, well, just that – a thought. Over the years, we have now learnt to be more conscious of the world around us and better understand the impact our individual life choices have on the planet. Whether it’s through making small changes to the food we eat by going vegan or vegetarian, reducing our single-use plastic consumption or by ditching fast fashion in favour of higher quality capsule pieces, there are plenty of ways we can all do our part.
It’s no secret that one of the leading contributors of greenhouse gas emissions (and therefore most harmful to the world) is the industry of cattle farming, the source of not only our beef supply, but leather supply for garments and accessories too. Some might argue that real leather is more sustainable than vegan leather, however it would be incorrect to think of “real leather” as sustainable. Think about the potential sustainability red flags in the leather product process: deforestation to make way for cattle grazing, the bovine husbandry and rearing itself, the treatment of animal skins in tanneries to become soft, pliable and not biodegradable, the disposal of non-biodegradable waste once the leather has been used.
But where does that leave those who want to embrace a new ethical and sustainable way of living and incorporate more vegan materials into their wardrobe, but can’t seem to give up the thrill of stepping into a beautifully-designed pair your favourite patent stilettos. Fortunately, we no longer have to. Eight brands are paving the way for high-end, luxury vegan shoes that are as exquisite as they are sustainable, and deserve a place in any fashionista’s wardrobe.
The Vegan Shoes That Are Actually Luxury Shoes
Kicking off with a bang, Alohas are the Spanish-based brand that pride themselves on creating a broad range of products that are both sustainable and ethically-produced, with a goal of creating an overall responsible shopping experience. Designed in Barcelona and handcrafted in Alicante, Alohas are a brand with a strong moral compass. By having trusted artisans manufacture the goods locally, the team behind Alohas can ensure that products are made in line with their ethical values and quality standards.
They offer a vast array of products ranging from shoes to jewellery and clothes, but it’s their vegan shoes that peaked our interest. From colourful mules to chic and stylish espadrilles, Alohas is one of the few brands to offer 100% vegan shoes that are as pretty as they are sustainable. The Clara by Day Wheat sandals are the perfect addition to any summer wardrobe, whether heading to the beach or to sunset cocktails with the girls.
The cherry on Alohas’ sustainability cake is that they operate an on-demand shopping policy – ensuring that they only produce enough product to meet demand and do not contribute to the overproduction problem in the fashion industry.
When seeing Piferi designs for the first time, the term ‘vegan shoes’ is probably not the first to come to mind. And yet, Piferi has pulled off the incredible – shoes which are not only ethical and sustainable, but shoes that both look and feel ultra luxurious, whilst being seductively feminine. With an illustrious career at well-known powerhouses such as Jimmy Choo and Burberry, it’s no surprise that it was founder and shoe veteran Alfredo Piferi that was able to break the stereotype.
Launched exclusively at Harrods in London in late 2020, Piferi proves that vegan shoes needn’t be frumpy. As he explains it, his designs are ‘vegan shoes made divine‘. With signature elements such as a curved heel designed to resemble the stem of the flower, the playful soquette and the bold tiny red toe cap, the eponymous Piferi offers innovative and eye-catching designs in a realm that was previously synonymous with flats and sneakers. Instead, Piferi presents us with killer vegan boots, stylish pumps and slinky sandals.
It all began after Piferi gave up eating meat a few years ago. In doing so, he was introduced to a plethora of new flavours that he would never have otherwise explored and it was this discovery that led to the start of Piferi. Inspired to apply the same concept to shoes, Piferi has succeeded in creating something new – something that didn’t just look good, but that also served a purpose. As the Piferi website says “impeccable craftsmanship is the beating heart of Piferi, social responsibility is our soul.“
Founded by three friends who share a common passion, and handmade by skilled artisans in Veneto, Italy, Aera are proud to be a brand that is 110% sustainable – that is, the climate footprint from making these shoes has been offset by 110%. And whilst that in itself is something to be proud of, style and quality has absolutely not been compromised in the pursuit of sustainability.
For a start, much of the materials used in the manufacturing of Aera shoes is done using eco-friendly products. Take Aera’s signature sea glass-coloured lining, which are made from field corn, the soles made from Thunit®, a kind of rubber that is considered one of the best alternatives to leather, and heels made of 100% recycled ABS plastic.
A leader in the world of sustainable luxury footwear, Aera scientifically measures the environmental impact that each pair of shoes they manufacture has on the planet, to be able to guarantee that everything made is aligned with their brand ethos of ‘luxury footwear without a footprint‘. In recognition of their efforts in being at the forefront of designer yet sustainable luxury products, Aera were awarded the Butterfly Mark by Positive Luxury, and we couldn’t agree more. As firm believers that luxury is about so much more than cost, we at Dukes Avenue can fully appreciate the morals, ethics and thought-processes behind creating such an innovative brand.
With the concept of ‘living beautiful‘ as their motto, Matt & Nat is all about living in appreciation of the creativity and positivity found in all of us, and in the world around us as a whole. To honour this, Matt & Nat was named after MATerial and NATure – and is a brand that values social responsibility and integrity as much as it values quality and excellence.
Founded in Montreal in 1995 and built on the principles of veganism, Matt & Nat are committed to not using any animal based products in their designs, and place huge importance on the materials used in production. To ensure their offerings are entirely vegan friendly, their vegan shoes are made with synthetic leathers made from recycled materials such as windshield glass resin, recycled plastic bottles and cork. It’s worth noting that many clients have reported their Matt & Nat handbags are still in great condition, even after owning them for more than 20 years, proving that morals and ethics needs not be compromised for style and quality.
When in comes to their luxury vegan shoe offerings, Matt & Nat offer something for everyone; from a variety of vegan boots ranging from ankle to over-the-knee (we love Taminda Vegan High Heel Ankle Boots!), to high espadrille open-toe wedges and pointed toe loafers, it is clear why stars such as Natalie Portman, Emily Deschanel and Charlize Theron are long-term supporters of the brand.
Beyond Skin was established in 2001 as a brand that focuses on the sustainability of its supply chain, whilst creating high-quality unique and vegan designs. The designs are classic British and serve two purposes. Not only do Beyond Skin create beautiful and timeless pieces using classic templates jazzed up with modern patterns and quality materials, but the items are designed to stand the test of time. The shoes are lovingly hand-crafted in Spain, which means a longer shelf-life, and a classic design makes these shoes wardrobe staples – in keeping with their desire to “slow fashion down”.
Their sustainability eyes are also cast on their Italian-manufactured materials, using cotton-backed polyurethane textured faux leather, which has a much smaller environmental footprint than similar PVC vegan leather, and polyester-based satins, which use much less acid in its manufacturing process than similar viscose-based products, and contains no natural silk. Even their insoles are made from mostly recycled cardboard and soles are made from mostly recycled rubber, which is sourced locally in Spain. All their shoes incorporate a fully recycled vegan leather lining with a vegetable-based coating.
Their designs have been championed by environmental groups such as the RSPCA and PETA as well as by celebs on the red-carpet.
Cult of Coquette is a colourful and quirky yet chic, vegan brand that is proud to be completely cruelty-free, as well as PETA-approved. Cult of Coquette is not quite the place to go if you are looking for everyday shoes like Chelsea boots or vegan sneakers, but if you’re on the hunt for some Louboutin-esque killer heels that stand out in a crowd, then this is the place to go.
Established in Los Angeles in 2014, founder Bebe Roxana set out to create a brand that is both style-savvy and socially conscious. Inspired by her love of Louboutin’s iconic ‘So Kate‘ leather shoes, but unable to find a faux leather version of the same quality, she decided to embark on a journey to create her own using all vegan, cruelty-free materials, and make ethical the new luxury. With support of the vegan community she has done just that, with celebs like Leona Lewis, Miley Cyrus and Jessie J all pictured wearing Cult of Coquette on the red carpet.
Cult of Coquette designs are creative and eye-catching, with many including intricate embellishments, but there is also something for lovers of the more classic style. Their first design, ‘Azar’, is an classic elegant 3.5″ pump available in a variety colours from neutrals to cheetah print. Those looking for something a little more fancy will love the mule silhouettes and the ultra glam open-toe sandals.
VEERAH is a New York-based vegan footwear brand on a mission; a mission to design vegan shoes that do not compromise personal style, yet promote a more sustainable lifestyle. Named after veerabhadrasana, the Sanskrit word for the yoga warrior pose, Veerah was launched by founder Stacey Chang in 2016. Like others on this list, Stacey saw a gap in the market for non-leather dress shoes that actually looked good enough to wear whilst out and about.
Inspired by women and their warriors within, VEERAH shoes are carefully manufactured using solely vegan materials, materials like apple leather and recycled plastic textiles that are PETA-approved vegan and 100% cruelty free. Everything about is clearly aligned with their overall ethos – creating a new kind of conscientious luxury, where innovation is led by compassion. This can be seen not only through the materials used in production, but the 100% recyclable packaging and their commitment to taking action and giving back to society.
Aside from offering a selection of footwear ranging from vegan boots to bridal footwear, VEERAH also offers cliente fully removable jewel-like accessories that can be added to classic shoe silhouettes. Whether your preference is for custom algae insoles, straps, tassels or jewels, VEERAH offers something for every woman to suit any occasion. As Forbes put it, “they are comfortable enough to wear on a plane, yet dressy enough for a night on the town.”
If you still haven’t come across your ideal pair of vegan shoes, why not check out the Avesu website. Avesu is focused solely on vegan shoes and stocks heaps of other brands that might take your fancy including Bourgeois Boheme, Nae Vegan Shoes and more!
If you’re interested in sustainable fashion and are looking for more brands to add to your collection, be sure to check out our article on the ethical and sustainable jewellery that are taking the market by storm.
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