Synthetic shoes are always vegan, right? Wrong!
Ever wondered why vegan shoes are more expensive than synthetic shoes which you can pick up cheaply from some of the larger retail stores? I mean, vegan shoes are just made from vinyl, right? Wrong!
Here are some of the differences:
1. The most important difference between a vegan brand and your average synthetic shoe is that vegan brands use high-quality materials that are variations of vegan leather, such as microfibre (microfibre in the US). Cheap synthetic shoes tend to be made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which means that they don't breathe and are environmentally unfriendly. The vegan microfibre fabric breathes and has all the quality of traditional leather, but without the animal cruelty. Follow the link below to read a test by Chiko Shoes on the breathability of vegan shoes.
2. Vegan brands care about the quality of the shoe. They are lined, padded and consider comfort and durability, which includes things like heel placement. Vegan brand shoes are often crafted in small European factories. Some brands actively eschew the concept of fast (disposable) fashion and create shoe lines that are designed to last for years.
3. Vegan brands ensure all components of the shoe are free from animal-based products. Many synthetic brands still contain animal-based glues, or components which contain lactose. The toe box and stiffener which are used to reinforce the toe and heel may also be made out of a blend of cardboard and leather.
4. Vegan brands care about people and stay away from factories known to exploit their workers. If a shoe is really cheap, it's fair to assume that workers haven't been paid a living wage.
Of course, there are so many vegan brands out there now that there are exceptions to these rules. But in general a vegan brand shoe is definitely not a cheap synthetic shoe, it's an infinitely superior product that veganises the process of traditional shoe making, aiming to make a high-quality product that will last for years, without harming the animals, people, the environment and importantly, your feet.