From Adidas to Nike and Vans, countless shoe brands have upped their shoe game with new vegan versions. (Which we might already have in our online shopping carts.) Simply put, 2021 was the year of sustainable kicks.
The leather is out
While historically brands have used leather to make sneakers and other styles of footwear, things are starting to change. Many brands are slowly starting to move away from leather and instead switch to more environmentally friendly materials as awareness of the industry’s impact on animals and the planet increases. But there is still a long way to go before fashion gets rid of leather.
In December, a new study, conducted by supply chain research firm Stand.earth and environmental group Slow Factory, linked more than 50 clothing and apparel brands with Brazil’s largest leather exporter, JBS . The company, also the world’s largest meat producer, is linked to deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. And that’s not the only problem with leather production. Besides being greedy for land, the process of turning cowhide into leather is toxic; industrial runoff waste pollutes waterways.
But leather doesn’t need to be made from animal hides at all. Plant-based materials, such as mushrooms, cacti, apple peels, pineapple leaves, and cork present an equally durable, but longer lasting solution.
Sustainable sneakers of 2021
In October, Ganni announced that he would be abandoning leather in favor of grape skins. The Danish fashion brand has revealed that from 2023 the company will only use sustainable vegetable leather, made by Vegea. The Italian brand manufactures biomaterials for a wide variety of sectors, including the fashion and automotive industries. “We are phasing out leather completely by 2023, as it defeats our efforts to minimize our impact due to the high levels of methane emissions from livestock,” said Nicolaj Reffstrup, founder of Ganni, by Fashion United.
This year, Crocs also revealed that it will stop using leather. The company said its decision to go 100% vegan was aimed at helping tackle the climate crisis. This move is part of Croc’s commitment to achieve net zero by 2030. “Taking action to reduce our environmental footprint by implementing more sustainable practices across our business is the right thing to do. for Crocs, ”said Andrew Rees, CEO of the company. .
Ganni and Crocs aren’t the only companies adopting greener materials. While brands still have a long way to go, many are releasing collections using plant-based materials. Click through the gallery to see 10 brands that launched vegan and sustainable sneakers in 2021 (no cowhide needed).
About the Author
PERSONAL WRITER | LOS ANGELES, CA Audrey writes on sustainability, food and entertainment. She holds a bachelor’s degree in audiovisual journalism and political science.