These quality vegan shoes are mostly sold online, so get your child’s measured at shoe shop, to avoid the hassle of returns. They are all made from kind and sustainable materials. It’s good to let shoes dry out on alternate days so they last longer, so invest in two pairs, and they should last a long time. Also see where to find quality vegan shoes for adults.
Vegan children’s shoes are made from breathable leather, not plastic (pleather) which are not good for growing children’s feet. As these shoes are mostly sold online, get your child’s shoes measured at a shoe shop, then say you’ll be back when they start selling some of these brands.
Many people think that leather is a by-product of the meat industry, but this is not usually the case. Most leather is a separate industry, produced in countries with poor animal welfare and humans rights laws, and that includes the high-price ‘luxury leather goods’ market, so goodness knows where all the profits are going there. The leather tanning process is also very polluting, to both the planet and the tanners.
We’re not quite there yet with ‘100% biodegradable vegan leather’, but getting there, and at least the animals don’t suffer meanwhile. Most vegan leather is from an Italian microfiber fabric called Lorica, which comes in leather, patent leather or suede, and is pretty easy to clean. Unlike plastic (‘pleather’), it’s also breathable, so feet won’t stink! The best way to stop shoes smelling is to buy two pairs, and let one pair dry out one day, while your child wears the other pair the next day. Foot odour is usually caused by not letting shoes that smell dry out, rather than not washing your feet! Also wear breathable socks made from cotton or hemp.
Here are a few of the better brands. These shoes cost a little more but will last years with good care. Clark’s would likely say they are the best brand, but they still use leather, when there’s no need. They list their policies on people and planet, but nothing about animals, other than they care about animal welfare? Good on You listing for Clarks shoes is ‘not good enough’, citing they do source from greener tanneries and donate shoes, but they use leather and wool from unspecified sources, and there is no evidence of a living wage.
Noah is an Italian brand that makes eco-friendly vegan shoes for children. All made under Fair Trade working conditions, these are mostly slip-on pumps and Converse-style colourful sneakers.
Pediped offers quality vegan children’s shoes, recommended by foot doctors. Many feature quick-dry EVA footbeds and breathable neoprene lining, with Velcro closures.
Ten Little (North America) is a new brand made from quality vegan leather. These have been designed with foot doctors to follow the natural shape of the foot, to allow for ‘wiggle room’ as your child’s feet grow. You may wish to avoid the ‘fun stickers’ to go on them, as they won’t biodegrade if they fall off, but the shoes look good. These also fit orthotics, just remove the insoles.
Poco Nido (UK) offers baby shoes for indoor or light outdoor use, super-comfy to wear with or without socks. There is no exposed elastic to prevent chafing, and they are free from choke hazards, and tested by Interek. Not all their shoes are vegan, so the link above is to a vegan baby boutique. As they contain polyester, buy a microplastic catcher, to stop synthetic fibres breaking off in the machine and reaching the sea.
Noah Shoes (Italy) is a stylish brand that makes shoes in-house with sustainable materials, and also has a lovely line of children’s shoes. These organic cotton canvas shoes have removable insoles and natural rubber outsoles.
Vegan Children’s Shoes for School
Wills Vegan Shoes (UK) makes shoes for boys and girls (and many more for adults), mostly with Velcro straps, slip-on and lack-up black shoes (good for school). Sent in zero waste packaging.
Start-Rite (UK) has been making quality school shoes for decades, and has just launched a vegan range, showing that the movement is going mainstream. These use a high quality breathable leather alternative, and are of the same high quality as their other shoes. Kickers is another mainstream brand that has recently launched a vegan range.