How to Shop for Vegan Clothes and Shoes
I recently went shopping for a pair of running shoes. This was my second time shopping for shoes since I decided I would no longer buy or wear leather items. I couldn’t help but feel like a detective when I pulled out my reading glasses to inspect each shoe’s labeling. If only vegan shoes came with a big “V” stamped across the box…but it’s never that simple.
Since my significant other started wearing vegan clothing about three years before me, I’ve gotten a lot of vegan shopping under my synthetic-leather belt. Here’s what I’ve learned along the way:
You don’t have to shop exclusively at vegan specialty shops, whether an online vegan store or in-person at an unexpectedly pleasant find: a brick and mortar exclusively vegan store. You can shop where you normally shop. What you have to do is become familiar with reading labels, just like you do at the grocery store. Sometimes a clothes item doesn’t have obvious animal material showing–it might be an accent or hidden inside the product (like silk lining in a purse); which is why reading labels is so important.
Labeling isn’t always obvious, which can be frustrating at times. While doing my shoe shopping I found a comfortable and cute pair of shoes, but try as I might I couldn’t find any material information. I checked the inside of the shoe, the box, the sales item description on the shelf…nothing. Finally I pulled out my smart phone and looked the shoe up online. Eureka! The material list was online! Unfortunately, it had leather accents. I persisted with my sleuthing while looking over other shoes until I found a great pair, all man-made materials and on sale…SCORE!
It might sound a bit daunting, but once you get into a rhythm of where to look, you can weed out products that contain animal materials fast. Below is a small sampling of what words you want to look for. This list doesn’t include all animal products or all natural/manmade materials, but is meant to give you a good idea of what the common ones are. If you’re looking at an item and are unsure if a material name is made from animal or not, ask a sales associate, or better yet if you have a smart-phone, look it up online.
Here is a sampling of keywords to look for and avoid:
- Bonded leather
- Morocco (leather)
- Rabbit hair
Here’s a list of some vegan-friendly keywords and materials:
Hopefully this helps you realize that you don’t have to completely give up on shopping at your favorite store in order to shop vegan. You just have to add an additional step to shopping: Eye it up and down, try it on, and read the label.