Freerangers makes shoes by hand in Tyneside, choose from many styles and colours galore. Each pair is signed by the maker, and you can send them back for re-soling. This company also makes vegan bags and satchels, and even vegan sporrans!
Leather is not a by-product of the meat industry, and it’s really good to use nontoxic vegan leathers to help both animals and the planet, rather than use leather that is very polluting to both water supplies and the people working in tanneries. Good vegan leathers are also easy to clean with a damp cloth, and partly biodegradable (things are improving all the time, with some goods now made from fruit leathers).
Quality vegan shoes are made of several materials. You can of course find rope/jute sandals and natural rubber wellies etc. But for ‘everyday shoes’, the main material is Microfiber, which is gradually becoming more and more biodegradable, thanks to inventions like fruit leathers, which use up the waste from industry (apples, grapes, pineapples, cactus). Easy to clean with a jar of dubbin, invest in a couple of pairs and wear on alternate days, and you should be sorted.
As most quality vegan shoes are still sold online, visit the shoe shop (afternoons when your feet are their proper size) and get your feet measured (or measure your own feet). It only takes a second, and then you know the size to order. If you’re a half-size, it’s usually okay to order the bigger size (feet swell when running and you’ll likely be wearing socks). But it’s best to try to find the exact size for other shoes (it may be a case of trial and error – European brands don’t offer half sizes).
other good brands of vegan shoes
Will’s Vegan Shoes (London) sells lots of nice vegan shoes and boots (including for children). From ballerina flats and comfy loafers to walking boots, everything’s made in Italy and Portugal with good health and labour laws, with a focus on products that last (no ‘seasonal shoes or fast fashion sales’). Everything is shipped quickly from an Essex warehouse. And there’s a whopping 365-days free returns and exchanges! The store also sells vegan leather and wool jumpers (recycled polyester so launder in a microplastic catcher).
Ethical Wares (Wales) offers everything from walking shoes to dancing shoes! The best bit is that profits help support rescued barnyard friends in sanctuaries. Much of the footwear is made ethically in the UK, to fair working standards. Starting 30 years ago with 2 ranges (a green boot and a black boot!)
Vegetarian Shoes (Brighton) began as a small retail shop in a seaside city, and now offers hundreds of pairs online. Originally the owner made the shoes himself, but now most are outsourced to ethical manufacturers. These are a bit more ‘funky’ and likely to be popular with youngsters.