Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Vegan Vintage Inspired Shoes

I think at least one person was keen on my idea to do a post about vegan vintage inspired shoes so I've decided to do that today. I can't 'review' the shoes, as such, as I do not own any of these but I've spent a bit of time scouring the internet for vegan friendly shoes which also have a bit of a vintage feel to them.

The biggest problem with having a vintage look for me has always been finding appropriate footwear as I will not wear leather - my personal belief is that, if I do not agree with eating an animal, then I most certainly should not be wearing one - so that often leaves me looking at absolutely divine shoes without being able to wear them. Luckily, attractive vegan shoes actually do exist! Hopefully this post will help some of you who are in the same boat.

Melissa Australia/Melissa Plastic Dreams

Firstly, there is Melissa - to find out a little bit about the brand go here. My personal favourites are those designed by Vivienne Westwood, like the Mary Janes pictures above, but a little look around shows that the other designers have some very cute styles, too. While clearly not an 'authentic' vintage look, I think it is fair to say that many Melissa shoes have been inspired by shoe designs of the past.

There are some very cute shoes at Alternative Outfitters, like these platform pumps by Madden Girl.

Bourgeois Boheme have nice ranges of both casual styles and dress shoes as well as stocking other accessories and cosmetics.

Vegetarian Shoes have a few styles that caught my eye, like these Leanne Shoes, which come in red and brown.

These Ariane shoes are coming soon! Aren't they adorable?

Vegan Chic is another site that has a great range of shoes and accessories. I personally adore these wingtip style heels.

These 'Agatha Christie' shoes are from

Vegan Wares offers some very nice styles, such as the Estelle and Ava pictured below.

These sandals from Moo Shoes remind me very much of a pair I saw Lauren Bacall wearing in a photo, once!

Ethical Wares also have some great styles, including vegan creepers! There is also a list of sites carrying vegan and vegetarian shoes, which can be found here. I should note that many of these sites carry men's shoes as well as women's.

I also spend a good deal of time in discount shoe stores as their products are very rarely made of leather, so far as is indicated and have bought almost all of my shoes from such stores, or department stores like K-Mart. I should probably add that I, myself, am vegetarian not vegan but I'm quite strict about it still.

Andi B. Goode


  1. I love the brown and black ariane ones! swoon!

  2. Those Westwood x Melissa ones are the BEST, soooooo comfy!

  3. this is such a great post!
    i've always wanted a pair of the weswood/melissa shoessssss

  4. <3 Love for the vegan shoes! So pretty!

  5. I have to agree that there are so many great shoes in discount stores. I love your picks here!


  6. Those are some great shoes, for both vegans and carnivores! I've always loved the Melissa "Lady Dragon" shoes, but they're soooo expensive ;_; I also wonder whether your feet would sweat more, given that they are made of rubber...

  7. ...I just looked at the Agatha Christie ones... what does it mean, "recent batches are less well shaped"?! That's hardly encouraging...

  8. Oooh great post. I love the wingtip heels from veganchic.
    I'm going to have a looksy through some of those sites.
    Thanks for the info :)

  9. I LOVE the Westwood/Melissa shoes and cannot wait to buy a pair as soon as i can afford it! x

  10. ooh, great picks! For vegan handbags to go with the shoes, I highly recommend canadian company Matt & Nat (

  11. Hmm. First off, I'm not meaning to "pick a fight with the vegan" (I'm vegetarian myself) as I love your blog and your style, but the whole 'vegan shoe' thing drives me bonkers.

    I'm a vegetarian because I do not believe in the mass industrialization of food, be it meat or vegetable, and I don't like the idea of people doing things because it is convenient versus doing it because we need to for survival. That said, I also try and live my life in as friendly a manner as possible toward THE EARTH herself, let alone just her creatures. In that vein, I WILL NOT buy plastic shoes (which are 99% made in China) as the process to make them ads disgusting chemicals to the air and plastic does not biodegrade nor last even a fifth as long as a leather can (in regard to shoes). Meaning the overall environment footprint for plastic shoes versus leather would be X times larger!

    I'd be interested to hear how you would justify the plastic shoes to an environmentalist.

    Like I said, not meaning to pick a fight, I honestly just do not understand this aspect of some vegans lifestyle. It makes no sense to me to care SO MUCH about one thing but completely disregard the other.

    Also, animals aren't killed in general specifically for the shoe industry; the leather is a by-product of it. So the leather is already there, whereas the plastic is made specifically.

  12. I think it differs with every vegan really. I won't wear leather, whereas my (longer standing vegan) best friend will. She sees it as a waste not to use the 'left overs'. My boyfriend has second hand leather boots that he brought for £2, but he would not normally purchase or wear leather. We just agree to disagree!

    I guess most vegans are against it as it is a by-product of the meat industry. And at the end of the day, to be vegan is to not use or wear anything that has come from an animal.

  13. Oh brilliant! I have some vegan friends who often have trouble finding vegan shoes that they actually like - I will recommend these. I adore all off melissa's shoes, I recently came to own two pairs which are my favourites as they are so so comfy <3

  14. First of all, I think I had responded that I wanted to see this so - thank you!

    Secondly, I will respond to some of the points of the frustrated and confused vegetarian poster!

    I do hear this sentiment a lot and it amuses me in a way - as someone mentioned before, if someone is vegan, it solely means to avoid animal products/by-products so taxing every vegan with being an eco-conscious vegan is silly. Just like assuming most of the general public who recycles is eco-conscious is silly (they're still not eating local, cutting down on meat, reducing their materials consumption, they still drive cars, etc.).

    In truth I believe there is a connection with consumption and the environment which also affects animals. But I think you're assuming that it *should* be vegans-en-masse priority to avoid pleather/plastic shoes if they *have* thought of it...which may not be the case based on their priorities and how they judge the situation. Leather does have a lot of toxicity involved if it's new, not to mention that some folks just CANNOT wear dead skin on their skin. It's kind of gross to them. Their value judgment might be that they'd rather off-gassing plastics than dead skin (after all, a lot of omnis do it - it's easy to make that concession, especially if there are no perfect alternatives). I know a lot of vegans buy fabric shoes for the spring/summer but winter is a bit of a challenge.

    *If* they have thought of the issue, that is - a lot of "issues" folks are a little tunnel-minded and not necessarily "big-picture" (by the same token, if you're vegetarian for remotely ethical reasons, I'd ask why you were not vegan; I don't personally care if you are or you aren't but following that logic, I'd want to hold you accountable for not going the "whole mile").

    Secondly, a lot of people (period) wear cheapo shit from China alllll the tiiiiime. It's almost compulsory for a lot of folks. I think a lot of people who make an effort at something - recycling, eating local, being vegan, only buying used, etc. - do give themselves some slack in other areas.

    Also, there are some vegan shoes by brands like Novacas that are fair-trade at least and last a while. That is my main focus - I won't wear leather because I think it's a gross idea, I will wear canvas and pleather...but I like shoes that stay together for quite a while. (Just FYI - I recall talking to a cop about how all their leather holsters were being replaced by rubberized vinyl ones since they lasted longer - the technology is there but planned obsolescence in fashion likely works against it actually being manufactured...just like there are cheap leather shoes from Payless that will last just as long as fabric ones.) The less I have to replace, the less waste and fuel is used in manufacturing and the less remnants go in the landfill. That and buying used.

    While leather is a "by-product", it's still $$ for the meat industry because they don't give the hides away for free -- the selling of leather subsidizes the meat industry to a certain extent:

    It's not as if someone just skinned a deer and you ran into a pile of skin in the woods and decided yes, I'll use this to make shoes since it's going to go to waste. If that were the case, maybe people should be taking the hides of their companion animals and using them to make shoes? (To riff off of Time to Eat the Dog's premise.) Those animals are all going to be cremated or buried.

    I understand what you're saying - the two causes should be bound in people's minds, logically. But I don't think it's quite as simple as that. If I thought leather was the answer, I'd wear it -- but I don't.

    Hope that helps some! Interesting question.

  15. Oh, and just FYI -

    I am vegan (14 years, vegetarian for 19), I work in animal welfare and I focus that work on the area of feral cats because they produce offspring that most frequently dies in sheltering systems.

    I belong to a food coop that sells local and org produce,which doesn't use plastic bags (I carry 3 chicobags around with me daily - along with a Klean Kanteen and a travel mug for coffee and bring my lunches either in bentos, lunch bowls from Happy Tiffin or Wrap n Matts) and previously belonged to our CSA until the timing didn't work out for me.

    I compost and am on my garden's compost squad and have organized vermicomposting workshops for my food coop for no reason other than I thought people should have an opportunity to learn how to use a worm bin.

    There is probably more I can be doing for "THE EARTH herself" but it's incremental. So I do appreciate people who are eco-conscious...part of me is like "Oh well, I wear plastic shoes until something better comes along" -- but unfortunately I haven't seen an ideal solution yet.

  16. Great post, really helpful! (I mostly buy my leather shoes second hand, which help me feels less bad about it).

    I have those Vivien Melissas in Pearl, they are SO comfortable!

    I will check out these other ones too.

  17. jesse.anne.o: I LOVE the way you put your point across! I feel exactly the same way. I too feel that it is unfair for it to be put onto us vegans to be ethically responsible in every way possible! People seem very quick to judge vegans and pick holes in other areas of our ethics and morals, and it's really unnecessary and unfair.

  18. Great post. It can be really hard to find cute vegan shoes. I love those Melissa shoes--as well as all the other Melissa Vivienne Westwood shoes! :)

  19. Great response, jesse.anne!

    I don't think it's really fair to act like Andi is a spokesperson for any of these companies, she even stated she doesn't own any of the shoes - she was simply letting other people know of the animal-free options out there which is pretty great. There's nothing for her to "justify", not to mention, she's obviously doing her "part" for the environment because so much of her clothing, accessories, and yes shoes, are from op-shops/thrift stores/etc. which cuts down on all kinds of waste and emissions.

    I'm a fellow vegan and a lot of my clothing and shoes are vintage and when I sew I do it with natural fibers.

    Excellent post Andi!

  20. I actually need to second the post before me... good on you Andi for taking the time to hunt out some gorgeous vegan shoes!

  21. I love the Vivienne Westwood/Melissa shoes and have been thinking of getting them, but I have a tendency to wear out heels very quickly and wonder if the material can be fixed like normal shoes. They are gorgeous, though!
    the renegade bean

  22. this is a great post, Andi!
    I'm also a vegetarian and won't wear leather. Target always has really vintage-inspired shoes that are made of synthetic materials!! I got a beautiful pair that look like the Agatha Christi ones you posted at Target for only $20!

  23. Have you tried Keds? I have two pairs - red polkadot high heel mary jane sneakers and a pair of peep toe sequined wedges. They are very cute, canvas and cheap. I got a pair from Rebelsport for $50.

    I'll email you a photo as an example.

  24. Thanks for responding guys; like I said, not meaning to pick a fight...just genuinely curious on the topic.

    Obviously no one can be 100% anything, and no one is asking you to. I think that doing the best you can and being willing to challenge yourself is fantastic.

    But that also entails thinking outside the box of what the label "vegan" entails, because everyone has their own interpretation of it (outside the definition of one who eats no animals or animal by-products.) from honey/no-honey to certain beers to the whole leather topic.

    Jessi - awesome post, I totally agree with you. I suppose I just like to bring the topic up to see if people ARE thinking about it or not, and if it hasn't crossed their minds...well now they can contemplate!

  25. ^ A lot of leather IS actually farmed from animals bred specifically for the hide, rather than just a by-product of the meat industry (I guess the meat is the by-product in this case?)...Obviously it depends on the quality expectations of the final product, but something to think about when deciding one's personal preference on wearing leather if vegetarian/vegan...

  26. Rueby - not to hijack Andi's post and not picking a fight either, but it sort of seems like you're vegetarian (not vegan) for the same reasons you have no issue wearing leather. While something like honey may be left up to individual vegans to decide (although generally it's a "no") I really don't think NEW (not vintage) leather is something a vegan would purchase or support the purchase of though I can't speak for all of them.

  27. thanks for starting an interesting conversation and perpetuating some of my recent shoe lust! great post as always, andi.

  28. Reilly - exactly, you can't speak for them because I know of at least one vegan who I certainly wouldn't want to be arguing with, who DOES by new leather; for the exact reasons I stated regarding the environment.

    Like some "environmentalists" make the exception to wear plastic shoes because they are also "vegan; some "vegans" make the exception to wear new leather because they are also "environmentalists."

    This then, would be the point in the conversation that the "vegan police" would have to step in; but alas, as we all know, no such thing actually exists ;)

  29. Hey again everyone. I circled back to this post because I just ran into these 2 posts while searching for reviews as to how sturdy a specific vegan shoe brand is (haven't purchased from them before):

    Apparently the Melissas that Andi posted are made of recycled plastic - I can't seem to find the full story on them but from the write ups I'm encountering they're not as toxic as some other plastic shoes...

    And then this comparison post (leather production/synthetics production -- the same site had a more recent post about toxicity in certain synthetic products)

    Anyway, thought given the prior discussion you guys might like to see those links.


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