Skating with Ethics: Our Favorite Vegan Skate Shoes

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The skateboarding world is no stranger to vegetarianism and veganism, but the lifestyle is still on the rise in the sport. So why are vegan skate shoes still so hard to find? While major shoe companies have released limited edition vegan lines, like Converse’s Cons X Chocolate Kenny release of 2017, nobody has really stepped up to dominate the vegan shoe market. Instead, most vegan shoes currently available appear to be vegan entirely by accident.

Even if you don’t follow a vegan lifestyle in your day-to-day life, don’t discount this footwear option completely.

Vegan skate shoes can be a stylish and environmentally friendly fashion statement. And while leather and suede haven’t experienced the same media backlash as fur, many people still prefer to limit their consumption of these animal products.

So where can you find vegan skate shoes for your own wardrobe? And which ones are the best on the market?

What Is Vegan Footwear?

When you think of vegan products, you probably first think of soy milk, fake meats, and tofu. But the vegan lifestyle doesn’t just mean avoiding animal products in your food. Veganism also means avoiding purchasing and wearing clothing and home products that use animal byproducts like leather, silk, or wool.

Many, if not most, shoes use some sort of animal hide or byproduct in their construction. For skate shoes, the most common animal products are leather and suede.

Fortunately, designers can easily replace these materials with canvas or other non-animal textiles. But that doesn’t mean that vegan skate shoes are always easy to find.

Why Choose Vegan Skate Shoes?

Most people choose vegan skate shoes because they believe in and follow a vegan lifestyle. But many people also opt for this footwear even when they eat meat or use other animal byproducts. Some activists believe that fashion featuring fur, leather, and other animal products is a luxury, unlike food, which we all need to survive.

Wherever you stand on the issue of animal rights and the use of animals for food, opting for vegan skate shoes is an easy way to limit your consumption of animal byproducts.

Not only does veganism help limit animal suffering for the creation of food or clothing, but it can also help minimize negative effects on the environment. Animal leather requires a tanning process that releases chemicals into the environment and can have a heavy impact on the workers who actually perform the leather tanning process.

Plus, the resources that go into raising cattle and other animals just to be turned into a pair of leather shoes are enormous. Avoiding leather products can help reduce the demand for these products, ultimately shrinking the number of animals raised for their hide and meat.

Which Vegan Skate Shoes are Right for You?

When shopping for vegan skate shoes, your personal ethics might dictate the type of shoes you purchase. Some people only want to purchase shoes from an entirely vegan company. They view purchasing a vegan product from a non-vegan company as still supporting the animal product industry in some capacity. Unfortunately, there aren’t any major skate shoe manufacturers who are 100-percent vegan. While this might change in the future, for now, consumers will have to settle for vegan options from non-vegan companies. But this still helps send a message that consumers want to spend their money on vegan products.

Another thing to consider in your purchase is whether or not your chosen shoes’ vegan status changes with different colorways.

For instance, a pair of shoes might feature a black leather option but also come in a red canvas (and therefore vegan) colorway. While this distinction might seem pointless to some, others care about how they spend their money and don’t want to support a product line that still contains leather or suede at times.

However, just because a pair of skate shoes are 100 percent vegan doesn’t always mean it’s the most ethical choice. Some critics of veganism point out that many vegan manufacturers still use Asian factories with questionable human rights and environmental impact.

Plus, some synthetic leathers have as poor or worse of an impact on the environment as their animal-derived alternatives.

If you’re looking for a pair of vegan skate shoes that is as ethically and environmentally friendly as possible, look for recycled materials, U.S.A.-based companies, and canvas over faux leather or suede. No pair of shoes will be perfect in this regard. But by acting like an educated consumer you can avoid spending money on a potentially unethical pair of vegan skate shoes.

How We Reviewed

For each review, we started by looking at the materials of some of the skating world’s top shoes. For those that met our criteria of being vegan, we then looked at product features and specifications, customer ratings and reviews, and pricing. You can also find links to purchase each of these vegan skate shoes at the end of our overviews.

Fortunately, vegan skate shoes are around the same price as non-vegan options.

In fact, since canvas is generally cheaper than leather or suede, vegan shoes are sometimes less expensive than their “regular” counterparts. Most vegan shoes run between $50 and $70. While most of the shoes on our list are permanent offerings, limited edition shoes might retail for a higher price.

Our Favorite Vegan Skate Shoes On the Market

Since ethical concerns vary so much from person-to-person, we focused our list of vegan skate shoes just on the materials. And because we know the quality and reputation of a pair of skate shoes is important to our readers, we also focused on vegan shoes available from the largest skate shoe manufacturers currently on the market.

If you want to invest in American-made or recycled materials, then you may need to look into smaller manufacturers. We support these smaller brands but wanted to suggest shoes that are available to all of our readers.

The vegan skate shoes listed below are in no particular order. However, you can find our final thoughts on these products at the end of our review.

The customer reviews referenced in each product summary are sourced from the manufacturers’ websites. While these companies are reputable, shoppers should take into consideration that negative reviews may be filtered or removed in some cases.

etnies Jameson 2 Eco

etnies is the only major skate shoe company to have a dedicated section of their website for vegan shoes. That makes shopping for vegan skate shoes on their website much easier than any of the other manufacturers. Of their vegan shoes, the etnies Jameson 2 Eco is one of the most popular.

These shoes are based on etnies’ best-selling shoe style and feature multiple materials from recycled sources.

The Jameson 2 Eco features a low-top silhouette with a recycled foam insole and recycled rubber outsole. Currently, this shoe style is available in over 20 colorways, each of which is vegan. The upper of this shoe is canvas, though it doesn’t appear to be from a recycled source. etnies is an American company, but they do not directly disclose where their shoes are actually manufactured.

The average rating for the Jameson 2 Eco shoes is 4.77 out of 5 stars on the etnies website. Positive reviews mention these shoes’ reasonable pricing, good outsole grip, and lightweight. Negative reviews stated that these shoes are uncomfortable, run slightly narrow, and that the outsole deteriorates quickly. These vegan skate shoes retail for between $50 and $65. You can purchase the etnies Jameson 2 Eco at the etnies website.

Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star

The Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star shoe might not be as popular among skaters today as it was in the past. But these classic shoes are vegan without even trying. Watch out for special edition Chuck Taylors or styles that feature a leather upper. Converse Chuck Taylors that use the original canvas design should all be vegan, though.

These vegan skate shoes utilize a vulcanized rubber outsole and canvas upper. These shoes come in high-top and low-top styles, a wide variety of colorways, and even a customizable option. Before Nike bought Converse, their shoe manufacturers were in the United States. Unfortunately, since Nike took over the company in 2003, the factories have since moved to China, India, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

The high-top version of the Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star shoes has a rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars on the Nike website. Reviewers mentioned the comfort, stylish look, and reasonable price of the vegan skate shoes. One reviewer mentioned that the rubber stripes on their shoes are peeling off after only one month of wear. Reviewers stated that these shoes run slightly large. The Converse Chuck Taylors retail for between $45 and $60. You can purchase these shoes at the Nike website.

Vans Canvas Authentic Lite

The Vans Canvas Authentic Lite skate shoes feature an iconic silhouette worn by skaters and non-skaters alike. While the Vans Authentic shoes aren’t inherently vegan, their variety of canvas upper colorways gives you a decent selection to choose from. These skate shoes include an extra low-top and, as the product name implies, a super lightweight feel.

Vans Canvas Authentic Lite skate shoes include the brand’s classic waffle-grip outsoles and a cushioned heels. Modern Vans shoes also include UltraCush sock liners that help make these shoes more comfortable for the wearer. At one point, Vans shoes were made in California. But today, these vegan skate shoes come from factories located in China and Vietnam.

These vegan skate shoes have an average rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars on the Vans website. Positive reviews discuss the durability, comfort, and lightweight of the Vans Canvas Authentic Lite shoes.

Negative reviewers were unhappy with the narrow fit, low-top heel causing slippage, and that the outsole rubber wore away in a short period of wear. The Vans Canvas Authentic Lite retails for between $45 and $60. You can purchase these shoes from the Vans website.

Nike SB Portmore II Solarsoft

The Nike SB Portmore II Solarsoft skate shoes are available in a handful of canvas colorway options. If you’re shopping for these shoes online or in-store, double-check that you’re not accidentally purchasing one of the leather or suede styles of these shoes. Only the canvas version of these shoes is actually vegan.

Nike SB Portmore II Solarsoft shoes feature a heavy-duty canvas upper and grippy rubber outsole. The profile of these vegan skate shoes is a very low-top, with a large Nike swoop emblem along the side of the shoe. The Nike Solarsoft range features special dual-density foam for extra comfort and protection. Like the Converse shoes mentioned above, these Nike shoes are manufactured in Asian factories.

These skate shoes have an average rating of 3.6 out of 5 stars on the Nike website. Reviewers stated that these shoes are good for light wear around the office or home and that they look stylish. However, several reviewers had issues with these Nike shoes such as them running a size large, causing pain their feet, and having a short lifespan. The Nike SB Portmore II Solarsoft retails for between $55 and $70. You can purchase these vegan skate shoes from the Nike website.

DC Trase TX SE

The DC Trase TX SE skate shoes are another pair of classic low-top sneakers. Use caution when shopping for a pair of these shoes, because some colorways feature leather design accents. However, any of the DC Trase TX SE shoes that have a 100-percent canvas upper are vegan.

These vegan skates shoes have a sturdy canvas upper and vulcanized rubber outsoles. The outsoles also feature DC’s trademarked Pill Pattern tread for extra grip. These shoes come in a handful of unique canvas colorways, but again watch out for leather accents. While DC doesn’t disclose the location of their skate shoe factories, it is extremely unlikely that their shoes are manufactured in the United States.

The DC Trase TX SE skate shoes have an average rating of about 4.5 out of 5 stars on the DC website. Positive reviews brought up that these vegan skate shoes are comfortable, lightweight, durability, and accommodation for wider feet. However, other reviewers countered that these shoes were not suited for their wide feet, so it’s unclear how well these shoes actually fit wider sizes. The DC Trase TX SE shoes retail for between $40 and $55. You can purchase these shoes from the DC website.

Skating Toward a Better World

Regardless of your reason for investing in a pair of vegan skate shoes, there are plenty of quality options to choose from. Unfortunately, none of the shoes on our list are manufactured in the United States. While this fact might not matter to everyone, it can raise concerns about a company’s environmental impact and stance on human rights. However, there are few, if any, more ethical alternatives currently on the market.

When it comes to shopping for a pair of ethical, sustainable shoes, our favorite shoe from our review is the etnies Jameson 2 Eco. Since this shoe uses some recycled materials, it is slightly more environmentally friendly than the other options we reviewed. But finding the right pair of skate shoes is an extremely personal process based on fit and your own preferences.

So if you aren’t able to make one of these more ethical pairs of shoes work for you, know that there are plenty of other ways to help animals and the environment. Either way, any effort, no matter how small, can help move us toward a better world.

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