We all love shoes. But how many of us ensure that our shoes are vegan and cruelty-free and promote sustainable fashion? The climate and environmental changes around the world have made sustainable living an urgent need. If we can strive towards creating a sustainable life and future, why can’t our shoes too contribute to our aim? In this article we take a deep dive into the world of vegan shoes.
Now you can wear vegan shoes that use fake leather and yet give you the feel of leatheresque shoes or are handmade using different vegan products without losing their eccentricity. In this article, we bring to you women entrepreneurs who are designing vegan shoes and contributing to the effort of creating sustainable living.
Senso Vegetarian Shoes
Senso is a cruelty-free shoe brand. Founded in 2012 by Ritu who describes herself as “shoe-o-holic” and vegetarian. Senso came into existence intending to propagate animal-friendly fashion. Ritu never thought that her obsession with shoes would land her at her own shoe brand. And making it vegan was in tandem with her vegetarian lifestyle. “Just like a non-vegetarian doesn’t realize that the meat on his plate is actually an animal, I didn’t realize that the fancy shoes I was wearing were made out of an actual, dead animal’s skin! This was deeply disturbing to me… Could I call myself a vegetarian if I wore leather?” Ritu says. Then she gave life to Senso (a word inspired by the idea of sensitivity towards animals) to create shoes that are vegan yet trendy, fashionable and comfortable. Teaming up with her brother Neelesh, Ritu’s shoe brand offers shoes made of a leather alternative, polyurethane. Senso Vegetarian has set up two offline stores in Mumbai apart from their online presence. The brand is a PETA approved 100 per cent animal-free organisation.
Check out the brand here.
2. The Cai Store
Aradhana Minavala always wanted to do something creative and environmentally conscious. That’s how PETA-approved footwear brand CAI was born in 2015. She teamed up with her husband Dhanraj Minavala to develop a shoe store that sells vegan shoes that are handcrafted by dedicated artisans in the factory. The shoes of this brand are strictly against the use of leather and still manage to create trendy, aesthetic, comfortable and vibrant shoes. The brand sells women’s footwear of different patterns and styles. It also customizes shoes as per the customer’s needs and likes. Aradhana Minavala handles the Administration and Marketing at CAI while Dhanraj looks into the business development and manufacturing arm.
Check out the brand here
3. PAIO Shoes
While doodling during lectures, a student of Advertisement realised her passion to design and create the most vibrant and comfortable footwear for women. She was Shweta Nimkar, the founder of PAIO which is a woman’s footwear brand selling eccentric yet comfortable shoes for women. Founded in 2016, the speciality of PAIO is that it allows the customers to play with styles and colours and design their own footwear online.
Moreover, the shoes of PAIO are made out of vegan products. As Nimkar told SheThePeople, “We started PAIO with the intention to bring cruelty-free fashion to the masses. Four years later I am so proud to see what we have achieved and we are just getting started to build a strong business around our core values.” Additionally, the brand is PETA approved. Shwetha Nimkar won the SheThePeople Digital Women Award 2020 in the E-Commerce category.
Check out the brand here.
4. Marche World
Pooja Bohra converted her passion for shoes into an attempt to promote cruelty-free and sustainable fashion. While she was working in the fashion industries, Bohra went on field trips to tanneries and factories where she witnessed the use of dead-animal skin in producing the leather for shoes. That hit her hard and made her understand how fast fashion impacts the environment. This understanding pushed her towards developing Marche World, a universe where only vegan, handmade shoes are hung. The shoes of this brand are produced by undergoing procedures in factories across India. Its main factory is located in Mumbai where the final product is prepared for sale. Hence, it also employs many artisans who put effort into making the shoes trendy and comfortable. The vision of the brand is to create India’s first sustainable leather shoes, promote the vegan fashion industry and spread awareness against animal cruelty
You can check out the brand here.
5. Needle Dust
Shirin Mann Snagha is the founder of jutti selling brand NeedleDust which has now expanded itself by including mules, alternative footwear similar to juttis, in their products. Mules are 100 per cent handcrafted and vegan. The story behind the inception of NeedleDust begins at her wedding when her search for the right pair of footwear to complete her bridal look brought her closer to the Punjabi tradition and artisans of juttis. She made it a point since then to revive the culture of jutti in modern fashion and save it from going extinct. For her work, Sangha won SheThePeople Digital Women Award 2020.
In conversation with SheThePeople, Sangha said, “The strangest idea comes when you find the gap in the market. Juttis have been a part of our culture for centuries. It is not something new…But certain products have stigmas. And juttis have that too. That they were mundane, they were boring, they were not cool for the fashion ground. I wanted to change that.” Hailing from Chandigarh, Sangha earlier worked as a crime journalist in an investigative paper, based in Delhi.
6. It’s A Shoe Thing
It’s A Shoe Thing is a homegrown shoe selling brand founded by Pooja Kothari Mehta. The brand has received approval from PETA and develops shoes that are vegan, fashionable and comfortable. The brand sells women’s footwear of different styles and patterns. The shoes are handmade to ensure the cruelty-free production and durability of the product. The shoes of this brand are seen regularly at exhibitions in SoBo.
Check out the brand here.