Veganism is now one of the universal focuses of the fashion industry. Cruelty-free materials, particularly synthetic leathers and wools, are being used to create — and recreate — evergreen clothes, shoes and accessories. Naturally, this movement is being spearheaded by the leaders of our generation, the sneaker aficionados, from ubiquitous Veja sneakers made with alternative ‘leather’ and animal-free adidas styles by vegan designer Sean Wotherspoon, to the Rio De Janeiro-based brand Cariuma and its bamboo knit IBI sneakers.
Here, the authority on vegan sneakers, Daniel Navetta — Instagram’s @theairvegan, editor-in-chief at FUTUREVVORLD and co-creator of Hypebeast’s podcast, ‘Business of Hype’ — reveals the key styles that will help you shop with a positive mindset.
Veja's Nova low-top sneaker — created with a 100% organic cotton upper, an Amazonian rubber, rice waste sole and a sugarcane and recycled EVA insole — is a dream come true for minimalists. The style's impressive durability has everything to do with the brand’s eco-friendly ethos, as, above all, conscious fashion should withstand the test of time.
'Veja has been holding it down with vegan sneakers for a while, but although they haven’t committed to going fully vegan yet, there’s always a solid basic sneaker in their shop and they’ve recently branched out into running sneakers.’
'Consumers who want to purchase vegan-friendly sneakers should consider looking for knit or woven uppers. For fans of adidas, the Primeknit technology is usually the safest path to buying a vegan-friendly sneaker. The brand already has a dedicated line of vegan classics that are made with synthetic leather uppers. But you can’t talk about vegan sneakers without acknowledging the role that Sean Wotherspoon has played in raising the profile of animal-free sneaker constructions. His ability to incorporate his vegan values into his choice of materials is not only admirable, it has served as a catalyst to awareness of the vegan lifestyle. Sean has also had a direct impact on my journey — he’s been supportive of my accounts and message, he’s been a guest on my ‘Business of Hype’ podcast and he has consistently shared our editorial work on @FUTUREVVORLD.’
'[Belgian brand] Rombaut is doing some really interesting design work with materials like Econyl regenerated nylon, apple and cactus leather, PET bottle recycling and more. If you’re looking for a fashion-forward footwear company that has fully committed to vegan products, Rombaut is a winner.’
A popular Rombaut silhouette is the chunky low-top, defined by its round toe, thick laces, retro-inspired logo tab and use of 100% vegan leather. A stylish pair for the summer would be this all-white style.
Nike x Stüssy
'The Nike x Stüssy Air Force 1 Low ticked a lot of boxes for me. Stüssy has always been an iconic streetwear brand and in recent years, I’ve found myself a bit more nostalgic for the brand. One of their best design decisions was to opt for a hemp upper instead of synthetic leather (although the inner lining utilizes synthetic leather). Not only was hemp a bold move on a high-profile collaboration, it also gave the consumer some unusual power. Both the fossil pair and the black became a canvas for modification and personalization. Hemp is porous and absorbs dye (or bleach) quite well, so the choice of hemp allowed a bit of design exploration for anyone willing to alter their pair.’