Everything vegan and ethical is well and truly making its mark in 2022, so it’s no surprise that one of the biggest fashion trends this year is vegan sneakers. With more and more shifts towards living in an environmentally-friendly and ethical world, fashion is also jumping on the bandwagon. Vegan sneakers look just as good as their leather counterparts, but no animals are harmed in the process! What could be better?
Vegan Sneakers: Everything You Need to Know
As the world continues its slow march towards collective environmentalism, the fashion industry is responding. Recently, the spate of sneaker brands pivoting towards vegan leathers and socially conscious offerings has boosted the market, allowing for independent brands to make a name for themselves while still staying true to their focus. So, what does it all mean? Here’s the rundown on vegan sneakers:
- Material – According to PETA, most vegan shoes contain synthetic leather products made from plants such as mushrooms, bananas, or apples from materials like polyurethane (PU), microfiber, or rubber. The important note is that these materials don’t contain any animal-derived materials—such as leather, suede, or wool
- Eco-Friendly – While there has been some contention over the eco-impact of vegan substitute products, vegan leathers made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), PU, and other poly-composite microfibers generally have a far smaller environmental footprint than that of animal-derived materials. Further to that, a number of brands are now offering vegan sneakers crafted from recycled cork, canvas or tires.
- Durability – One of the main reason leather shoes have stood the test of time is thanks to the material’s durability. While vegan sneakers likely won’t have the same robustness, releases from major players such Dr. Martens and Veja have proven to stand the test of time.
Best Vegan Sneakers for Men
From Nike to Veja and everything in between, the vegan sneakers trend is seriously heating up. If you want to join the party, here are the best vegan sneakers for men to get your hands on, or feet in, shall we say.
1. SAYE Modelo ‘89
SAYE has one of the sexiest collections of vegan leather sneakers with their Modelo 89’ range. Coming in a range of shades, from caramel to green or salmon, they also come in both high-tops and low-tops, so you’re bound to find the perfect fit for you. Every material used is vegan, and the laces are even made from certified organic cotton.
Price: $173 USD
Upper: Corn vegan napa: Cotton 29% + Polyurethane 71% with 68% Bio Based Mass Content
Lining: 100% organic cotton
Insole: 60% recycled thermoplastics recovered from the automotive factories + 40% PU foam and 100% organic cotton cover
Outsole: 30% natural and 70% synthetic rubber mix
Laces: Certified organic cotton
2. New Balance 990v5 Vegan
New Balance 990v5 Vegan sneakers are some of the best vegan sneakers for men out there right now. If functionality is at the top of your list, these have been crowned the best running shoe on the market. They also look so good you could wear them out day to day. Whilst the series has been around since the 80s, they’ve managed to effortlessly transition into the 2020s by becoming vegan friendly! The shoe features a synthetic construction made without using animal or animal by-products, the addition of TPU accents, and Ortholite inserts.
Upper: Synthetic crafted without the use of animal or animal by-products
Insole: ENCAP midsole cushioning combines lightweight foam with a durable polyurethane rim to deliver all-day support
3. adidas Stan Smith Vegan
adidas’ Stan Smith shoes have always been iconic and are now even more iconic (we didn’t even think that could be possible?!) as they are now more sustainable. The shoe is known for its timeless appeal and simplistic, cool style. Now you can wear them without weighing down your conscience! The shoe is a marker of adidas’ commitment to use only recycled polyester by 2024. With a vegan upper and an outsole made from rubber waste, they still have iconic style but are now made with the planet in mind.
Upper: Primegreen upper, made from a series of high-performance recycled materials
Outsole: Made from rubber waste
4. Veja V12 B-Mesh
Veja’s are undeniably cool, and what could make them even cooler? Being Vegan, of course! These trendy sneakers are made out of 100% recycled polyester- the plastic is from recycled plastic bottles shredded into flakes and then transformed into fibres! And just in case you were wondering, it takes three plastic bottles to make one pair of VEJA. The B-Mesh is a light, breathable and water-repellent fabric that also looks good and don’t be fooled- The suede is also a 100% vegan synthetic textile.
Upper: B-Mesh (100% recycled plastic bottles)
Panels: C.W.L. and vegan suede
Logo V: Rubber and rice waste (22%)
Insole: Amazonian rubber, sugar cane, recycled E.V.A.* and organic cotton
Outsole: Amazonian rubber (31%), rice waste (22%) and recycled rubber (12%)
Lining: Tech (100% recycled polyester)
Laces: Organic cotton (100%)
5. Dr. Martens 1461
The classic Dr. Martens shoe has been around for longer than we can remember, and its recent comeback is most likely thanks to their new vegan version of the much-loved leather staple. The 1461 3 Eye Shoe is made with black vegan-friendly, synthetic material. It looks just like the traditional shoe we know and love, but just without the harm to the planet or the animals.
Upper: Goodyear welt, synthetic material
Outsole: Goodyear welt, synthetic material
6. Reebok Club-C ‘85 Vegan
Reebok has jumped on the vegan bandwagon with their new vegan shoe. Their Club-c ‘85 Vegan sneaker retains that traditional retro 80s tennis style look we all love, but this time is free from animal ingredients! If you’re the type that likes to flaunt your vegan pride, there is a debossed “V” on the heel and a “Reebok Vegan” graphic on the sockliner to help you make your statement.
Upper: Vegan material, 100% free of any animal products or materials
Outsole: Natural rubber midsole/outsole
7. adidas Samba Vegan
adidas is at it again with their Samba Vegan shoe, one of the best vegan sneakers for men to grace our stores this decade. The iconic shoe gets a revamp with a 100% vegan design, and it’s getting all the praise it deserves! With the same look and feel as the original style, this version advocates for a better future with entirely vegan materials, even down to the glues and colours!
Upper: PU coated recycled synthetic upper
Lining: Synthetic lining
Outsole: Rubber outsole
8. Veja Marlin V-Knit
Veja is also offering a more practical vegan shoe with their Marlin V-Knit running shoe. Aptly named after one of the fastest and most athletic fishes in the ocean, the Marlin is designed for those who like to move and who like moving fast. The shoe is light and dynamic yet comfortable for everyday users, and you guessed it, it is 100% vegan!
Upper: 100% recycled polyester
Lining: 100% recycled polyester
Insole: 75% bio-based and recycled, 52% sugar cane – 23% recycled polyester
Midsole: 60% sugar cane
Outsole: 61% bio-based, 30% Amazonian rubber – 31% rice waste
9. Merrell Moab Speed
Another running shoe to add to your collection for the days you’re feeling active and inspired is the Merrell Moab Speed shoe, the vegan hiker of your dreams. One of the best-selling hikers in the world right now, the shoe is known for its comfort, durability and versatility. It is also vegan-friendly- so it will do wonders for both your feet and your conscience.
Upper: Mesh and TPU upper
Lining: 100% recycled mesh lining
Insole: EVA foam insole with 50% recycled top sheet
Laces: 100% recycled laces
10. Nike SB Dunk High ‘Baroque Brown’
One of the best vegan sneakers for those that love high-tops, the Nike SB Dunk High sneaker is one of the most attractive shoes to make the list. A cool baroque brown shade complemented by a white and dark green midsole offers a fresh look that people have come to love. With its authentic leather look, you would never guess that it’s made entirely from vegan leather!
Upper: Vegan leather panels
11. Clarks Originals Wallabee Vegan
For more of a classic, charter sneaker look, Clarks is now also selling vegan shoes. Clarks Originals gives its iconic Wallabee a makeover by replacing its traditional suede with vegan suede across its uppers. Looks-wise, it’s just the same as the shoe we know and love, but instead, no animals were harmed in its making.
Upper: Synthetic Suede
Outsole: Crepe rubber sole
12. Converse All-Star Chuck Taylor
One of the most iconic sneakers ever made, the Converse All-Star Chuck Taylor’s weren’t originally designed to be vegan, however, they more than fit the bill. With the outer layer constructed from canvas and the glue being synthetic, the most basic model of the classic silhouette is entirely vegan. So, while the brand doesn’t necessarily claim to be a vegan-focused enterprise, a number of its releases are already doing good.
Upper: Canvas upper for lightweight, flexible comfort
Outsole: Vulcanized rubber sole for durability
Why Buy Vegan Shoes?
Buying vegan shoes is the more ethical choice, as you're not contributing to harm against animals or the environment. According to PETA, most vegan shoes contain synthetic leather products made from plants such as mushrooms, bananas, or apples from materials like polyurethane (PU), microfiber, or rubber.
Is Vegan Leather any good?
Yes, vegan leather is just like traditional leather, only better for the planet. Reports have suggested that vegan leathers made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), PU, and other poly-composite microfibers generally have a far smaller environmental footprint than that of animal-derived materials
Does Nike make vegan shoes?
Nike makes a range of great vegan shoes, like their SB Dunk High sneakers.