The number of vegans in the UK increased by 40% in 2020 – a rate that doesn't look set to slow down anytime soon. With environmental and ethical concerns being brought to the fore, more and more of us are swapping animal products for plant-based alternatives – in all aspects of our lives, right down to the shoes on our feet.
Luckily, eco-friendly footwear has never been so stylish. Fashion forward brands are responding to increasing demands for more consciously made shoes by creating vegan trainers that would please the most style-conscious sneakerheads. Expect everything from chunky retro-inspired styles to minimalist sneakers characterised by understated silhouettes and restrained colourways.
When it comes to finding your perfect pair of plant-based kicks, there's a huge array of materials to consider – from recycled plastic made from post-consumer waste to sugar cane, cactus, apple peel and more. Brands are really pushing the boundaries in terms of design and manufacturing practices, harnessing new innovative processes that are far less carbon and water intensive than traditional methods. Many labels are also thinking ahead, ensuring that their trainers are recyclable in order to reduce landfill.
Whether you're a vegan or simply want to start taking steps towards living a more eco-friendly lifestyle, these are the best vegan trainers to buy for a guilt-free style statement.
Dutch sneaker brand ETQ Amsterdam has recently expanded its range of characteristically minimalist sneakers to include vegan styles, and the result is impressive to say the least. Made from VEGEA®, a plant-based rubberised leather that’s free from fossil fuels, the vegan version of ETQ's bestselling LT 01 Court Lite boasts an ultra-clean look, with a sleek, slightly padded upper and minimal stitching. Recycled lining, a sturdy rubber outsole and super flexible Strobel-constructed soles complete the composition, making for a shoe that's guaranteed to stand the test of time.
SAYE makes some of the best vegan trainers we've come across, and this style, from the Barcelona-based brand's new Vegan Colores range, only proves our point. From the bio-based corn leather upper to the bamboo lining, recycled reinforcements and organic cotton – it's clear that not a single detail has been overlooked. Plus, for every pair of SAYE sneakers purchased, the brand will plant two trees. What's not to love?
CLAE's popular Runyon style has been given the vegan treatment, with a 100% plant-based construction that makes use of recycled PET from plastic bottles. The classic EVA running sole promises ultimate all-day comfort while the vintage-inspired aesthetic will infuse your look with the perfect amount of retro style. Team them with anything from sportswear to your casual everyday ensemble of chinos, tee and overshirt.
Canadian label Matt & Natt was one of the first brands to make use of vegan leathers, and it remains a fantastic go-to for planet-friendly accessories. These vegan trainers are made using PU (polyurethane), a completely biodegradable material that looks and feels like leather. The clean silhouette and understated colourway lend them a certain level of sophistication. Wear them with soft tailoring for an effortless smart-casual outfit.
Allbirds is one of the leading names in sustainable footwear, with a huge cult following that can attest to the top notch quality of its trainers. Its Men's Tree Runners are made from responsibly sourced eucalyptus tree fibre, with a sugarcane midsole, castor bean oil insole and recycled laces. They also happen to look the part, making them a win for your wardrobe and a win for the planet.
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