It’s nearly back-to-school time, you’ve got the stationery, the satchel and the socks but wait – you’ll need some good quality, waterproof school shoes that fit the school’s uniform policy. Luckily for vegan parents, there are some great options out there that won’t break the bank and that will allow your child’s feet to flex and grow.
What are vegan shoes made from?
Most shoes marked vegan are made from the following materials:
- “PU leather” which is plastic, or rubber made to look like leather
As with many choices, there seems to be no perfect ethical shoe; if you’re not choosing leather, you’re choosing plastic. However, there are companies who make products that allow you to follow your morals as closely as you can, so look for natural and recycled materials and products made by ethical companies.
Should I just buy cheap ‘other materials” shoes from a supermarket?
Several of the big supermarkets have kids’ school ranges and shoes come as part of this and can be a great choice if you are buying to a budget.
Tu at Sainsbury’s has lace-up black shoes or Chelsea Boots from £14, with the uppers listed as ‘other materials.” George at ASDA has a small range of black shoes listed as ‘faux leather’ from a wallet-friendly £10.
You’ll find similar shoes at Nutmeg at Morrison’s and F&F at Tesco, so shop around to find something that both fits the uniform code and suits your child’s sense of style. Tom’s also offers casual slip-on shoes with a vegan selection and a policy of One for One, donating shoes to kids in need.
* Best for: Dr Marten vibes
Available from Vegetarian Shoes
Sizes: Adult 1-13 Colours: Black
These chunky beauties will last and last and though they look sturdy, they are comfortable thanks to an Airseal sole.
The smooth grain mock leather uppers are breathable and you can either polish them to a bright shine or leave them dull – a great way to save time on show polishing!
* Best for: Colour lovers
Available from Young Soles
Sizes: Child’s 4 to Adult 7.5. Colours: 19 colours including black, brown, red, green
A new vegan collection from this maker, these are made from both sustainable and recyclable materials.
Rosie will remind you of your own childhood with their vintage vibes and single-buckle T-bar with a sweet butterfly punch detail on the upper. The sole is made from lightweight EVA.
* Best for: a natural barefoot feel
Available from Vivo Barefoot
Sizes: Adult 1-6 Colours: deep sea blue, gold
This neat little trainer is one of the lightest shoes around, so great for sports and can be worn in school too if your uniform policy doesn’t demand black. It’s made from recycle PERT plastic, so is kind to the environment and allows for full freedom of movement.
* Best for: nursery kids
Available from Happy Little Soles
Sizes: Child’s 3-6. Colours: Navy, Chocolate
This everyday vegan shoe is great for younger kids as they start to become more confident with walking and running.
This shoe is perfect for the change that comes between your child’s first steps through to walking with confidence.
* Best for: proper smart shoes
Available from Wills Vegan Shoes
Sizes: Kid’s 3- Adult’s 2.5. Colours: Black
These lace-ups are ethically made in Italy, packaged in sustainable paper and cardboard and delivered via a plastic-free carbon-neutral supply chain.
Both the upper and softly padded lining are breathable, so no smelly feet, and they are durable with well gripping soles.
* Best for: Wet play days
Available from Happy Little Soles
Sizes: Child’s 5 to adult 3. Colours: Navy, Chocolate
This sporty little Mary Jane style shoe is not only vegan with a thin and flexible sole but it’s also great for wearing in puddles, as it’s waterproof.
Made from lightweight neoprene, it can be worn for sports and play. The shoe follows the shape of your child’s foot and the sole offers a good grip. There are also washable anti-microbial in-soles to keep them fresh.
* Best for: Girly girls
Available from Shoes For Children
Sizes: Child’s 5 to 12. Colours: Black, silver, pink
These will satisfy even the most glitter-loving of girls, with their textile upper that’s covered with a sparkling finish. There is a reinforced toe bumper to prevent scuffs and as well as being pretty they are also great for active play. They are lightweight and flexible too.
* Best for: From class to sports field
Available from Marks and Spencer
Sizes: Child’s 5 to Adult 7. Colours: Black
These trainers are smart enough to pass for school shoes yet practical enough for playtime and some sports. Lightweight, they have well-padded foam insoles to keep your child’s feet are comfortable all day long. There are two front zips to use for putting them on and off, rather than fussing with laces yet they have the appearance of a smart lace-up. These are part of M&S’s new range of vegan-friendly shoes.
* Best for: Handmade to fit perfectly
Available from Green Shoes
Sizes: Child’s 2 to 12. Colours: eight including silver, tan, red, black
This company hand makes shoes, sandals and boots with a vegan option and lots of great colours to choose from, though they are rather more expensive than some.
There is choices of soles and there are two buckled straps to adjust the boot for a perfect fit; the upper strap can be removed to change the look.
* Best for: Playground to party
Available from Shop From Britain
Sizes: Adult 1-6 Colours: Silver
As long as your school doesn’t insist on black, these lightweight shoes will be good enough for school or even a party with their silver uppers and white soles. They’re soft and flexible enough for tender little feet.
Sally J. Hall is the author of Plant Based Baby