I must confess, one of the hardest things about becoming vegan had nothing to with food, personally (that was the easy part!). It was finding the right cruelty-free shoes that speak to my aesthetics and are actually eco-friendly. Back when I first became vegan in 2006, it was a challenge to find vegan shoes that were also sustainable. Polyurethane shoes sold at fast retailers are technically “vegan,” but hardly eco-friendly as they are made using toxic processes and are discarded after just a season of wear. Luckily, times have changed and we now have a growing number of luxury vegan shoe brands that check off all the marks.
For me, high-end shoes are the ultimate investment pieces because they upgrade your entire outfit, last so much longer, and feel more comfortable. Shoes I’ve bought have marked various periods of my life, from black stilettos (sexy, pulled-together career woman) to the round-toe midi-heels from sustainable fashion brand Filippa K that I’m currently wearing (eco, understated sophisticate?!). While these shoes are not vegan, I gave them a free pass since they were secondhand. They’ll always remind me of the dreamy, snowy, liberating solo trip to Stockholm, which adds to the joy of wearing them.
Envisioning this winter and next spring, I know I’ll need some très chic and bohemian shoes for lots of cafés, cobblestones, and countryside retreats. While that won’t call for 4.5″ stilettos like in NYC, I still want to look polished and well cared for because I’m a grown-butt woman! You don’t have to drape yourself in labels to be chic–but your presentation can show the world how much you value yourself, and that reflects back to you. (I’m working on this one too. I love the raggedy muffin look, but it’s time to pay more attention to finesse, at this point in my life).
Here are my picks for shoes that say you’ve got style, confidence, *and* conscience–basically the whole package.
Luxury Vegan Shoe Brands
Nemanti Moneglia heels, €350.00
This Milanese brand is just as luxurious as any other high fashion label, but it’s made of sustainable vegan leather and recycled plant fibers. The elegance of the shoes speaks to the time-tested Italian craftsmanship. Take a look at this beautiful velvet stiletto!
Nemanti Luino boots, €175.00 (
Also from Nemanti, these boots would make your regular sweater + tights + skirt combo look so devastating. Or wear them with cropped wide-leg jeans that are currently super trendy.
Nemanti Orta boots, €174.00 (
These over-the-knee boots would so great with a coat dress, à la Kate Middleton. Or with leggings and a structured blouse. It says “I like to be in charge and on the move–but I still always manage to look impeccable.”
Florence in Red with detachable tassels, $268
These gorgeous heels come with removable tassels so you can get two shoes for the price of one. Because sometimes you want to be all business, and other times you just want to be all goddess! A favorite of vegan supermodel Petra Nemcova, Veera shoes are made of organic apple peels–no, really. Some styles also feature recycled plastic uppers, but all are super chic and well, supermodel-worthy.
Taylor + Thomas Jane loafers, $565
A brand-new LA-based vegan luxury shoe brand, Taylor + Thomas is inspired by style icons–this one is a tribute to Jane Birkin. Among other things, the brand uses castor oil (in place of petrolatum usually found in insoles), FSC-certified beechwood heels, and water-based polyurethane. They also partner with 1% for the Planet and Native Energy for zero carbon footprint.
Stella McCartney Flats, $460
Can we really talk about vegan luxury shoe brands without mentioning Stella McCartney? The maison is one of the leaders in carbon-neutral production and cruelty-free *and* sustainable material sourcing. These platform loafers are comfortable but elongating. These shoes would say, “I’m really, really cool” without being too obnoxious about it.
Madewell vegan slingbacks, $290
Spain is another country renowned for its artisan cobblers. This Barcelona-based sustainable brand is influenced by French cinema, among other things. These slingbacks feature brushed cotton upper, vegetable leather lining and unique hoxagonal heels. Take a look at the very chic ochre option below, too. Great for pants, skirts, and dresses.
Fera Libens Calipso light green ballerina,€99.50
Another artisanal Italian brand based in Milan, the upper lining of these moss-green ballet flats is made of Alcantara®, a material with 100% Carbon Neutral certification. These look perfect for wearing every day with jeans, a white shirt, and some gold earrings, no?
Which one of these shoes have your heart going pitter-patter?
Photo: Peaceful Dumpling; respective brands