A couple of weeks ago, I experienced what I’m going to go ahead and refer to as a “fashion miracle.” It happened in Paris, where, strolling along an old cobblestone street on a sunny spring day, I was drawn toward the retro-cool window display of a tiny second hand boutique. Popping in for a quick poke around, my eyes instantly settled on an unexpected sight: my favorite sandals (pictured, above)!
They were identical, in size and color, to a pair I’d once purchased back home in San Francisco half a decade earlier, had lived in until they collapsed from wear, and had pined for ever since I had reluctantly tossed them into the garbage bin after several years of good use.
Without a moment’s hesitation, I snapped up the tawny t-straps, plopped them on the counter, shelled out a small handful of euro, and walked out the door a very happy customer. Why the excitement over a pair of cheap sandals, you ask? Well, these weren’t just adorable, comfortable, and functional, but leather-free, too.
All those years ago when I bought the original pair (at vegan-shoe hotspot H&M), fashion-forward footwear not made from animal hides was slightly trickier to source. Today, though, possibilities galore exist for trendsetters interested not only in vegging-up their diets, but their wardrobes, as well.
Have you started your search for the perfect summer sandal? While scouring second-hand shops is always a (super-eco) option, these retailers are a sure bet for securing your go-to pair of cruelty-free summer sandals:
1. Cri de Coeur This 100-percent animal-free brand offers a heaping dose of style in the form of pumps, sandals, boots, and wedges. Most shoes register a few bucks over the $100 mark, but check their online sale rack for super savings on a slew of snazzy styles.
HOT PICK: Cri de Coeur Wild Criss-Cross Strappy Mini-Wedge in black ($150)
2. Neuara This brand’s ethical-hipster designs support the idea that you can be cruelty-free while maintaining your cool-kid cred. I'm hot for these gladiator-sandal-meets-saddle-shoe that I’ll wear with everything this summer.
HOT PICK: Neuara Ivy shoe in Pine green ($90)
3. Olsen Haus This line, launched by a vegan entrepreneur, gives compassionistas an ethical alternative to chemical-laden leather. A tad spendy but definitely chic, these shoes are guaranteed to elicit compliments galore—just ask clients Emily Deschanel and Anne Hathaway.
HOT PICK: Olsen Haus tri-colored Fate Sandal ($140)
4. Beyond Skin Brighton, England-based Beyond Skin is committed to the sustainable production of non-leather shoes, using eco-friendly materials whenever possible. They ship world-wide.
HOT PICK: Beyond Skin Minnie shoe in blue square print (£159)
5. H & M This mega-retailer offers a hip variety of vegan styles that won't bust your budget. Visit your local store to find just the right pair for every occasion, from office-savvy to picnic-perfect!
HOT PICK: H & M Wedge Heels in black printed fabric ($34.95)
More Sources for High-Style Cruelty-Free Footwear:
Cow Jones Industrials
SHARE WITH US: Have you already scored the leather-free shoes you plan to live in this season? Tell us where you found them!
Aurelia d’Andrea has devoted a disproportionately large part of her life to scouring thrift stores, vintage boutiques, and flea markets in search of sartorial treasures, and has a closet full of frocks to prove her passion for the hunt. Going veg taught her to sharpen her style skills, and confirmed what she’d suspected all along: It really is possible to develop a fashionable point of view and keep your ethics intact, too.