September 15th 2021
The best vegan and sustainable trainers to suit all styles and budgets
August 8th 2020 / 0 comment
Eco trainers are this summer's upgrade for your workout and your wardrobe
When you think about the switches to make when you turn vegan, it's not just food that's on the agenda. Changing your beauty purchases to usher in vegan makeup and vegan skincare and even vegan nail polish is a valuable next step.
And when it comes to working out, or simply striding out, going vegan with your trainers is now more accessible than ever. Manufacturers are stepping up to make vegan leather not just sustainable but fashion-forward and sports performance-orientated, using recycled plastic bottles even leather made from grape skins and seeds as a by-product of the juicing and wine industries. H&M already uses wine-derived leather in some of its bags and shoes. Dutch firm Mercer Amsterdam is bringing out the first pair of grape made trainers next year.
The global vegan leather market is predicted to be worth £68.6bn by 2026 according to market researchers Infinium Global Research. This summer actress Catherine Zeta-Jones has designed a range of £60 vegan shoes with vegan ballerina flat brand Butterfly Twists, which have a nod to Missoni's famous zig zags.
It's not just surface materials in vegan shoes that are animal-free, the glue is no longer animal-based. "Animal-derived glue is often made by boiling an animal’s connective tissue or bones, so even if you purchase leather-free shoes they still may not be vegan-friendly," explain the Vegan Society. Synthetic alternatives to animal glue are available and are used by plenty of shoe brands.
Whether you're taking your first steps into veganism and simply want to cut down on the animal products in your life by avoiding leather, here are the best vegan and non-leather trainers to shop now.
For classic style: Adidas vegan trainers, £75
Adidas has updated their classic trainer to make it vegan with a rubber sole and man-made uppers for a super-comfy perenially stylish sneaker. It's free from any animal products and has eco credentials too, featuring an algae-based foam in the inner sole that helps clean at least 30 litres of polluted lake water.
For cool feet: Giesswein Wool Sneaker, £89
These sustainable woven sneakers claim to be the lightest on the planet, weighing in at '160 feathers'. We've tried them and they do feel like you're wearing the lightest slippers, perfect for summer weather especially if tou're prone to sweaty feet.
They're made from knitted merino wool, which is temperature regulating, and moisture-wicking - you can even wear them conformably without socks. They're made with vegan glue, though the wool component of course means they are not vegan. Giesswein do however make a fully-vegan shoe in the form of woven ballet flats using recycled ocean plastic with biodegradable soles and soft upper made from woven polyester. Best of all, you can refresh them with a 30C machine wash.
For city breaks: M&S lace-up leopard print trainers, £45
For pounding the pavements and exploring new cities, we love these statement print high-street trainers. They have M&S's Insolia Flex insole to make them comfortable for clocking up thousands of steps and are made with vegan polyurethane leather and synthetic glue too.
For summer strolling: Blowfish Malibu tie-dye sneakers, £20
Nothing says summer quite like tie-dye and these baby blue beauties are begging to be taken on a trip to the coast. They're made from canvas, rubber and vegan glue, for a lightweight, casual trainer. At such a bargain price it can't hurt to stock up on a couple of pairs
For working out: Nike Free Metcon 3, £104.95
Nike began using vegan glue in 2015, so as long as your trainers aren't leather and they've been made since 2015, they'll be vegan. We're very into the technicolour design of these trainers, but they also come in cream, pink, rose gold and leopard print. The flat, wide heel keeps you stable for speed running and weightlifting, so whether you're back in the gym or still running outdoors, these will see you through, plus they're super springy when you're sprinting.
For glam gym-goers: Skechers Skech-Air Stratus Glamour Tour, £80
The name of these is a bit of a mouthful, but when your workout shoes are this extra, the name might as well be too. They feature metallic panels, pearlised soles, and have a cushioned heel for extra comfort if you're walking long distances or doing jumping squats in legs bums and tums. Also available in white and lilac, they're made from a stretch knit fabric that's flexible and a cooling memory foam sole. They use synthetic glue for a totally vegan trainer.
For everyday-wear: Vans Authentic Shoes, £52
White canvas trainers are a staple for a reason; they go with absolutely everything, they're comfortable and even better, these are made with zero animal by-products, including the adhesive. They come in red, blue, black and cream too, but you can't go wrong with classic white.
For bare-foot running: Vivo Barefoot Primus Lite II Bio, £120
The closest thing to running in bare feet, these trainers are made from a plant-derived light-weight bio-polymer paired with a 3mm sole that allows you to feel the ground beneath you as you run while gripping well too. The upper material is breathable and sweat-wicking for the ultimate comfort. You don't have to go for the zany green, they also come in grey and black.
For fashion-forward footwear: Veja Nova Canvas, £80
If you've spent any time at all on Instagram you'll have seen these on your feed. Beloved by influencers, ethical French footwear brand Veja creates timeless shoes that everyone wants on their grid. Meghan Markle and Emma Watson have both worn their shoes, with styles being made from recycled plastic bottles and wild rubber. This pair is totally vegan. Some of Veja's styles are made from leather (albeit ethically sourced) so check the description when shopping.
For sustainable wool shoes: AllBirds Women's Wool Runners, £95
Made from merino wool, these flexible shoes (which Barak Obama has been seen wearing) are breathable and temperature regulating. They're made from New Zealand wool and AllBirds' shoe-making process uses 60 per cent less energy than used in typical synthetic shoes. Other materials include recycled bottles, used in the laces, castor bean oil in the insoles and the packaging is 90 per cent recycled cardboard.
For summer sneakers: Superga Cotu Classic, £38.50
Not all of Superga's iconic trainers are vegan, but the classic Cotu design is thanks to the use of synthetic glue. Easy to wear and easy to wash, no shoe collection is complete without these. The Cotu comes is dozens of colours and these are 30 per cent off at the moment.
In the sustainability stakes, Superga has just launched its Organic Collection, which includes the original 2790, 2750, and 2490 styles using materials and methods that have a low impact on the environment, made from 60 per cent organic cotton, 40 per cent natural hemp, 100 per cent organic thread, a natural cork insole and a 50 per cent recycled rubber sole
For lightweight running: APL Women's TechLoom Breeze, £190.99
You'll be flying along in these ultra-light running shoes, weighing just 6.8oz. APL is a favorite of the GTG team both for every day and for running, and we've machine washed several styles without any dip in performance.
They're seamless and extra elastic for the ultimate comfort and hold your foot firmly in place with exposed eyelets. APL is an LA-based brand known for creating performance-based footwear and they create shoes with no animal products at any stage from the dyes, glues or material used. This periwinkle blue pair jumped out at us, but they also come in a rainbow of other colours and have around 350 five star reviews on site.