Hemp sandals are gaining in popularity because hemp is a superstar sustainable material. Hemp grows easily without pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides. Plus, it’s antimicrobial, which makes it’s a great material for summer shoes. Sweat a little? No problem. Sandals made with hemp will maintain their naturally good smell.
In addition to hemp sandals, I did research to find other men’s sandals that have that cool, natural aesthetic, while still being vegan and eco-friendly. Men’s rope sandals and others made with natural fibers fit the bill, so I included those here too. Ready for summer? Check these out!
Rainbow Sandals makes a line of flip flops with hemp accents that have become the go-to sandals for surfers and other summer-loving guys (and gals!) They have that relaxed, frayed look, and they’re super comfortable. (Rainbow Sandals does make some styles with leather, so if you’re vegan, be sure to check the product details.) Aside from the leather, the San Clemente, California-based company is socially conscious – they donate to a lot of charities that promote education. These hemp sandals come in natural, brown, and black.
These casual Baja sandals by Crevo have a woven hemp fabric upper, and the padded footbed is vegan faux suede. I got confirmation from Crevo that the materials in these sandals are all vegan. Crevo makes a number of other really cool styles with hemp, but before I present them here, I’m waiting for further confirmation that the materials are all cruelty-free.
A lot of hemp is grown in Nepal, so purchasing hemp sandals from Nepal helps local economies there. Nirvana 8 is a company I found on Etsy that imports a variety of handmade hemp sandals from the Kathmandu Valley. They offer a number of different colors and patterns, and if you want to go all-out hippie, they’ve got some tie-dyed styles too. If you’re wondering if hemp might be rough on your feet, no worries, it breaks in with wear like your favorite pair of jeans.
Janice Winner imports a number of different styles of hemp sandals and other accessories from China. You can see more in her Etsy store. If you’re tired of flip flops and want the slide-in style, these sandals fit the bill.
Ok, technically, these sandals are not hemp, but I had to include these socially conscious men’s burlap sandals here because they have a hemp look, and Indosole is such a cool, socially conscious company. Founder Kyle Parsons was inspired to create his footwear company when he was surfing in the should-be paradise of Bali. He was appalled by the amount of trash in the ocean and elsewhere.
These eco-friendly and vegan sandals have soles made from upcycled tires.
One other style of eco-friendly and vegan men’s sandal I wanted to include here are classic rope sandals. They’ve been around since before Jesus’s time, as I explained in my post about women’s crochet and rope sandals, and they’ve never gone out of style.
Nomadic State of Mind produces rope sandals from recycled materials, including scrapped rugs, handbags, and water bottle carries. The company has started by Chris Anderson in the 1990s, while he was ambling around in his vintage VW bus. Nomadic State of Mind is all about living an adventurous lifestyle that’s also easy on the planet. They also make a line of clothing with organic cotton and recycled fabrics.
These handmade sandals are machine washable and they also float, if you happen to be wearing them in an ocean, lake, or river. They come in black, camel, denim blue, green, gray, or ivory.
Since summer is around the corner, I started looking into some vegan and eco-friendly sandal options and I got completely caught up in (no pun intended) women’s crochet sandals and rope sandals. I found a great selection, all of which are vegan and most of which are eco-friendly too.
While it’s unknown when and where the art of crochet work began, some sources say it dates back to the 1500s in Italy when nuns crocheted church textiles. There’s evidence that the first crochet work found in shoes was actually used for padding in the soles of the shoes vs. for decorative uppers. So, when you wear a pair of crochet sandals, you’re wearing something with centuries of tradition behind it.
Rope sandals, on the other hand, take that history to a whole other level.
The Oldest Shoes Ever – That Never Went out of Style
While they’re sometimes referred to as “Jesus sandals,” rope sandals were around long before Jesus made his miraculous walk on water. In fact, not only are rope sandals old, they’re the most enduring shoe trend of all time.
The oldest pair of shoes ever discovered was a pair of rope sandals that were found in Fort Rock Cave, Oregon in 1938. According to Wikipedia, Fort Rock Cave is the location of the earliest evidence of human habitation in the United States.
The sandals were radiocarbon-dated to being 9,000 to 13,000 years old. They comprised a simple platform that was made from woven sagebrush bark, with rope straps also made from plants. The sandals were preserved under a layer of volcanic ash.
I was happy to find a selection of women’s vegan crochet sandals and rope sandals that have modern accoutrements, including soles that are probably a lot more comfortable than sagebrush bark, but that still maintain some eco-conscious attributes.
Le Chic Boheme crochets unique sandals, bikinis, and bags. These low-heeled crochet sandals have ties that wrap up around your ankles. They come in mint green, black, rose, brown, beige, and olive green.
Luludu Collective creates eco-friendly ladies’ crochet sandals in ethical working conditions. They use sustainable hemp yarn, and the souls are made with vegan faux leather. These cute sandals have rounded toes and straps that wind up your legs. They come in a bright turquoise, black, white, and brown.
These colorful lace-up sandals are a fun mix of boho and gladiator. They’re made with eco-friendly hemp and jute, and they have natural rubber soles. The braided jute rope wraps up your leg with a sexy look, and the colorful ethnic fabric completes the look.
Nomadic State of Mind upcycles their classic, vegan rope sandals from scrapped rugs, handbags, and water bottle carries. All of their sandals are handmade.
The company has started by Chris Anderson in the 1990s. An avid adventurer, he started his company while traveling around in his 1969 VW bus. An adventurous lifestyle is the foundation of the company’s philosophy and it feeds into their products. Nomadic State of Mind also makes clothing with organic cotton and recycled fabrics.
Oh, and for all you water-loving adventurers, if your sandals come off in a river or lake, no worries, they float.
Here’s a video about Nomadic State of Mind’s Eco-Friendly Rope Sandals:
These rope sandals are 100% vegan and eco-friendly. You’ll love the gladiator look! They’re made with recycled polypropylene rope. They come in two colors: black and camel. And, they’re machine washable.
These classic rope sandals are also cruelty-free and made with recycled materials. They come in six different colors, including black, denim blue, green, gray, camel, and bone. They’re machine washable and they float.
Janice Winner imports a variety of eco-friendly hemp sandals and other accessories from China, which you can see in her Etsy store.
Hemp is a sustainable material that doesn’t require heavy pesticide and herbicide use to grow. It’s naturally anti-microbial, which means these sandals will maintain a good smell, even if you’re running around and sweating in them on a hot summer day! Hemp also softens with wear, like your favorite pair of blue jeans.
If they don’t have soles, are they still sandals? I think so! These barefoot rope sandals are too adorable to not include here. They’re handmade in South Africa with lavender hemp cords and silver beads by Ahyoka Africa. You can see more color combos in Ahyoka’s Etsy store.
Men’s vegan boots have made huge strides in the past few years, with more options available than ever before, both from a style standpoint and a materials standpoint. New, innovative brands are making really cool men’s boots, which also happen to be vegan, and we can’t get enough of them. If you like the look of leather but prefer to go cruelty-free, there are a number of styles of non-leather boots that break in and get better with age, just as the classic leather styles do.
And it gets better: there’s a revolution happening on the materials front, taking us out of the dark ages where the only vegan-friendly options were boots made with materials like traditional polyurethane, which uses a lot of toxic chemicals in its production. While you will see some vegan boots here that use polyurethane (it’s still hard to avoid in the vegan boot category), you’ll also see styles made with innovative, eco-friendly materials. (Look for the green leaf icon under the brand name in this article.)
Ahimsa is an artisanal Brazilian shoemaker that only makes shoes that are cruelty-free, and they put a special emphasis on producing shoes sustainably. Ahimsa’s mission is to respect all forms of life and inspire conscious behavior. Their end goal is “to have a more conscious society, one day completely free of cruelty.” Ahimsa’s shoes are all made in the company’s own factory; they chose not to outsource so they could ensure that workers would be treated well and make a fair wage. Their men’s vegan boots are all handmade.
Bourgeois Boheme (sometimes referred to as “BoBo”) is another sustainably-focused shoe company that is breaking new ground by using with Earth-friendly materials like Piñatex™ and plant-based polymers that are derived from natural, renewable sources, such as grains and seeds instead of from petrochemicals. These urban desert boots are made with PVC-free microfiber. (PVC, which stands for polyvinyl chloride, is a material like polyurethane, that uses unhealthy chemicals in its production.)
Risorse Future is an Italian vegan footwear designer that puts an emphasis on creating eco-friendly, sustainable shoes. They offer a number of styles of boots and shoes made with plant-based materials, including hemp and cotton. Their name translated into English means “Resources” and “Future,” which defines their sustainable design philosophy.
Disruptive menswear brand, Brave GentleMan, is another new company that is changing the world of footwear. Founder Joshua Katcher believes that workers making his products deserve dignity, respect, safe working conditions, and a living wage. He also believes that animals do not belong in the fashion production system. We couldn’t agree more! Brave GentleMan uses EU Ecolabel certified materials and offers a range of stylish, high-quality men’s vegan boots and shoes.
Dr. Martens’ combat boots are ultra-durable classics. So, when the company came out with a range of cruelty-free options, animal lovers everywhere jumped for joy into the nearest mosh pit. Today, you’ll find vegan Dr. Martens in a wide range of colors, styles, and animal-friendly materials.
Native is a 100% vegan brand that offers a wide variety of styles of men’s boots and shoes. Native shoes have a unique look, so you can choose to stand out from the crowd in some of their flashier colors or go with something more low key. They’re a brand that has something for everyone when it comes to casual, cruelty-free shoes and boots.
Novacas is another 100% cruelty-free brand. Their name means “no cows” in Spanish, even though their vegan boots have a classic leather look. When you see Novacas, you can’t help thinking – Who needs leather anyway? Novacas makes their boots in Portugal and they adhere to ethical working standards for their workers. In addition, their cruelty-free boots are non-toxic and PVC-free.
We love these badass, Ninja-style Japanese boots by Fugu. While they’re comfortable and lightweight, they have a reinforced iron dome steel toe to protect your feet. They’re made with heavy, vegan-friendly canvas and come in a few different styles. Still need convincing? Go watch one of the more recent Star Trek movies or the Hunger Games, and you’ll probably see some Fugus in action.
Metrocharm is a brand that offers a wide variety of men’s non-leather boots in both casual and dress styles. If you like the look of leather, but want to go cruelty-free, this is a brand worth checking out. And coming in at the $30 – $50 price range, you can go in style even if you’re on a tight budget.
Back in the day, when it was really hard to find stylish men’s vegan boots, there was Alberto Fellini. This is a brand that has been around for decades, offering a wide variety of men’s boots and shoes in manmade materials. Whether you’re looking for a vegan suede desert boot or a non-leather western-style dress boot, Alberto Fellini will have you covered, and at prices that are easy on your wallet.
Will’s Vegan Shoes is another 100% vegan brand that makes a variety of cool boots for men. Founder Will Green set out to create a brand that would be gentle on people, animals, and the planet. Whether you’re looking for a dress boot for work or hitting the town, or a rugged work boot, Will’s is a brand that’s worth checking out.
Rock Fall is known for their heavy work boots. We were glad to see them start to offer a few leather-free, microfiber styles. (For all you vegans, be sure to double check the product details to avoid the leather ones!)
Of the different shoes we present on UniGuide, flip flops are a shoe-in for the highest echelons of vegan and eco-friendly shoes. Today, you can find a variety of really cool vegan flip flops that also happen to be gentle on the planet. There are styles made with recycled plastic, upcycled tires, cork, and hemp. Other eco-friendly materials include recycled polyester and upcycled industrial hoses.
If we could wear them every day, we probably would. Why? Because speak volumes about sunshine, warm weather, the beach, and relaxation. But if your flip flops are made from materials that are not Earth- or animal-friendly – like plastic, certain types of foam, suede, or leather – it erodes their feel-good vibe.
According to Wikipedia, flip flops transcend cultures, as they are worn by people all over the world. The earliest record we have of a flip flop-style sandal was the type worn by the ancient Egyptians in 1,5oo B.C. But the modern flip flop that we all know and love was most likely inspired by the Japanese zōri, which American soldiers brought back to the U.S. after World War II.
So if you’re getting ready for summer, going on vacation to somewhere warm, or just walking from the shower to your locker at the gym, look no further – you’ve come to the right place to find some sweet vegan flip flops that are also easy on the Earth.
It’s estimated that 80% of the debris that pollutes our oceans is plastic. This is why we’re huge fans of the collaboration between adidas and Parley. Parley for the Oceans is an organization that sets out to intercept waste on the beach and in coastal communities before it reaches the ocean. They recycle this waste into threads that adidas then uses to make not only flips flops and sneakers, but also a new line of yoga and active wear. The sustainable cork foot bed in these sandals just makes them cooler. The adidas Eezay Parley Slide is available in men’s and women’s styles.
Indosole is a certified B Corporation, which means it’s a for-profit company that is certified by the nonprofit B Lab for maintaining rigorous social and environmental standards. Indosole is helping to solve a significant environmental problem by repurposing some of the billions of discarded tires that would otherwise pollute important places, like riverways, other natural habitats, and even cities, into useful footwear. Their socially conscious vegan flip flops are super popular with UniGuide visitors, so be sure to check out a pair for yourself!
SOLÉ takes corporate social responsibility and environmental stewardship seriously, which led them to using cork, an all-natural and sustainable material, in their vegan and eco-friendly sandals. Plus, they incorporate other Earth-friendly materials, like hemp and recycled polyester, into their designs. SOLÉ focuses on reducing their carbon footprint, running a business that is carbon negative. They achieve this by planting cork trees, harvesting the bark, recycling wine corks, and purchasing carbon offsets.
We call Patagonia the granddaddy of eco-friendly product companies because after over four decades in business, they just get better and better at producing super high-quality products that are infused with environmental consciousness and low-impact materials. It’s not easy being the front runner, so we’re especially grateful to catch a ride on the momentum Patagonia’s been building since 1973.
Musewear prints whimsical sayings, inspiring quotes, and zodiac signs on their flip flops, which are made from natural Brazilian rubber. With each pair you buy, they donate 15% of the price to nonprofits, such as Best Friends Animal Society and the Nature Conservancy. They also have a recycling program for their flip flops when you’re done wearing them.
San Clemente, California-based Rainbow Sandals has a line of hemp flip flops that have a natural aesthetic. And they get the cool frayed look once they’re worn in a bit. Rainbow Sandals does make some leather versions, so be sure to check the product details. But we salute them for giving to a number of charities, with a special emphasis on education. We can’t argue with that! They offer men’s and women’s styles, and their hemp sandals comes in natural, brown, and black.
Husband and wife team Josh and Heather Carpenter started Landfill Dzine when they saw a lot of useful materials come through the family’s recycling center, which served the agricultural industry. Self-described recycling fanatics, The Carpenters saw style and innovation where others just saw trash. Landfill Dzine makes a variety of products for men, women, and kids – including belts, shoes, and bags – all made from upcycled and recycled materials.
Owned by Deckers, the Sanuk brand has a variety of shoes made that are made with vegan and natural fibers. Deckers carries some non-vegan brands, but they do put out an annual corporate social responsibility report and focus on worker safety along their supply chains.
Founded by podiatrist Dr. Sylvie Shapiro, Planet Flops are made in Brazil from natural Brazilian rubber. Unlike synthetic rubber, natural rubber comes from rubber trees and is an eco-friendly material. The rubber harvesting process involves tapping into the tree to remove the sap from the bark, which does not harm the tree, yet creates an extra reason to keep them alive and thriving.
Made in the USA, Okabashi‘s sandals contain 20% recycled materials. Okabashi has their own recycling program – when you’re done with your flip flops, you can mail them back and Okabashi will use the materials to make more of their products.
Chako’s textured footbeds have a non-marking “EcoTread” sole that is made with a 25% recycled rubber compound. EcoTread’s construction makes these sandals 15% lighter than Chako’s other styles, while still being durable.
Made from hemp, one of the most versatile and sustainable natural materials available today, Nirvana 8′s hemp sandals are imported from Nepal, where they are all handmade by local artisans in the Kathmadu Valley.
Feelgoodz makes men’s and women’s flip flops with natural rubber. They also use all-natural dyes and non-toxic ink. You’ll find a variety of colors at a great price point. (For you vegans, they do make some styles with leather, so be sure to read the product details!)
“Live, Protect, and Respect” is the philosophy that Ocean Minded lives by. They use recycled and sustainable materials in their products whenever possible. These eco-friendly and vegan sandals have recycled PET plastic in the webbing on the straps, and the midsoles are made with 25% post-industrial recycled foam. (Ocean Minded does make a few styles with leather, so be sure to read the product details before you buy.)
OLLImakes Fair Trade flip flops with natural rubber sourced in Sri Lanka. The company was founded by two sisters, The Olli Sisters, found the chemicals used in traditional flip flops to be unacceptable. So, they set out to make a better flip flop with natural rubber, but soon realized the treatment of workers on many rubber plantations was also not acceptable. The result of their innate sense of decency was to create these socially conscious, Fair Trade flip flops (plus other cool, Fair Trade products.)
“Design is not just about product. Design is about responsibility.” –Dr. Carmen Hijosa, founder and CEO of Ananas Anam, the creator of Piñatex
Welcome to the Golden Age of cruelty-free shoes and accessories! It took a while to get here (and there’s still work to do) but we have finally, mercifully, arrived!
It’s not lost on us that the distinguished host ushering us into this new era is an innovative faux leather made from pineapple leaves. An international symbol of hospitality, the pineapple is the perfect way to welcome even the non-vegans among us to the world of sustainable, cruelty-free style.
To go directly to the cool shoes and accessories made with Piñatex at the bottom of this article, simply click these links:
Piñatex is the inspiration of Dr. Carmen Hijosa, a former consultant to the leather industry. While on a business trip to the Philippines in the ‘90s, she witnessed the amount of toxic chemicals used in leather production and their impact on workers and the environment. She knew that something had to change.
Leather is problematic at every stage of its product lifecycle, from the cruelty to animals who are exploited for their skin, to its toxic production process, and finally, to the disposal of leather goods after we’re done with them. Because skin is a biological material, it’s meant to decompose. Leather is treated with chemicals to prevent this natural process from occurring, so contrary to popular belief, leather is not a biodegradable material.
On her travels, Dr. Hijosa was inspired by the Philippine locals who made clothing out of plant fibers. And while touring pineapple plantations, she was struck by the amount of pineapple leaves that were discarded as agricultural waste.
These experiences led her to develop Piñatex, which is a non-woven material that is environmentally sustainable. Ananas Anam, the parent company of Piñatex, of which Dr. Hijosa is CEO, subscribes to circular economy and cradle-to-cradle principles. Not only is Piñatex vegan and eco-friendly, it also provides scalable commercial business opportunities for rural farming communities.
The Sustainable, Cradle-to-Cradle Lifecycle of Products Made from Piñatex
Here’s a great video from Ananas Anam on how Piñatex is made:
Maniwala is a U.S.-based creator of sustainable, vegan accessories that are made from hemp and Piñatex pineapple leather. Maniwala is member of 1% for the Planet, donating 1% of sales revenue to environmental non-profits.
Wonder Women of the World is a mission-based organization based in Paris that helps women who are out work learn new skills and get back on their feet. All of their creations are ethical and cruelty-free. This 100% vegan card holder will hold a couple credit cards and your driver’s license. It measures: 4” x 2.4”
And for your most important accessory of all – your cell phone – of course, we’ve got some pineapple leather for that too. These sustainable cell phone sleeves, also created by Eve and Adis, come in black, bone white, and gold. Eve and Adis will create a case to fit your specific phone. Just reach out to them via their store on Etsy.
Yet despite this powerful influence on the economy:
Only 10% of venture capital funding goes to female entrepreneurs.
And only 28% of companies that hit $1 million or more in annual revenue are owned by women. (CNBC)
Arnobio Morelix, an entrepreneurship researcher at the Kauffman Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on breaking down barriers to entrepreneurship, said that, “Female-owned businesses, in general, start smaller and stay smaller.”
Entrepreneurship is a tough road by any standard, and these statistics underscore the barriers that women entrepreneurs must break through to reach even a modicum of success. Couple this with being a female entrepreneur who is upending the status quo in additional ways, and success becomes even more evasive.
One industry that is overdue for an overhaul is the fashion industry. Wasteful, polluting, and exploitative of both people and animals, the business of making clothing, shoes, and accessories has been ripe for disruption for decades. The passion and tenacity of the female entrepreneurs we profile here, who are infusing sustainable and vegan sensibilities into both their designs and supply chains, is finally having an impact.
According to the market research firm WGSN, last year:
Sustainable fashion sales grew by 19%.
And sales of sustainable fabrics grew by 20%.
This growing demand has undoubtedly been fueled by the hard work of socially conscious entrepreneurs like these – and not to mention, the devotion of their savvy clientele.
So, in honor of International Women’s Day, we wanted to give these pioneering women a UniGuide shoutout for defying the odds and helping us all look and feel like our best selves in the process.
1. Carmen Hijosa
Founder and CEO of Ananas Anam, the Maker Piñatex®
While working as a consultant in the leather industry, Carmen Hijosa was on a business trip in the Philippines. Seeing firsthand the amount of chemicals used in the leather tanning process and their impact on workers and the environment, she became deeply troubled. This sparked a powerful motivation in her to find a more Earth-friendly alternative to leather, if it existed. Seeing local people making garments out of plant fibers inspired her to see if a leather alternative could also be made from plant fibers. The result was Piñatex®, a non-woven material made from the fibers of pineapple leaves, which is now being used to make eco-friendly vegan shoes and bags.
Alicia Lai started her career as a podiatrist. This experience and her love for shoes eventually led her to designing and creating high-quality footwear. But as a devoted vegan, making shoes with animal skin didn’t rest well with her. And her sense of empathy extended beyond animals to the workers toiling away in factories making the shoes many of us wear everyday.
These sensibilities were the foundation of Alicia’s footwear company, Bourgeois Boheme (“BoBo” for short.) Today, Bourgeois Boheme is a 100% vegan, sustainability-focused footwear company that ensures their workers have safe working conditions and get paid a living wage. The company is breaking new ground by using Earth-friendly materials, like Piñatex and plant-based polymers derived from natural, renewable sources, like grains and seeds, instead of those made from petrochemicals.
Lisa Siedledcki and Jennifer Silbert were both working as designers in the traditional fashion and accessories industries. A concern for the environment and knowledge of the waste produced by these industries led them to create Rewilder, a maker of ultra hip, fashion-forward accessories. Rewilder repurposes materials that would otherwise end up in the landfill and makes them into functional beach bags, dopp kits, aprons, and more – all of which are unique and handmade. The duo describe themselves as “passionately creative makers who believe in repurposing materials already in circulation rather than making them anew.”
Here’s a video where they describe their design and production process:
4. Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart
Founder and Designer, VAUTE
A bona fide fashion industry disrupter, Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart has taken the world by storm with her vegan high-fashion (hence the name VAUTE: “haute” with a “v” for vegan.) A designer who wears her values on her sleeve, Leanne described herself and the early VAUTE team as “activists and weirdos” – the kind of kids who thought “we’d never find someone else who cared as much as we do.” How wrong they were.
These days, you can’t really talk about vegan fashion without mentioning Leanne, who’s been described as a game changer for the whole industry. As a young animals rights activist and a disenfranchised teen, she wondered about her place in the world. A modeling job took her to Taipei, where she came across Deepak Chopra’s book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success in a used book store. A section of the book caught her eye: “There is abundance where your talents meet the needs of the world.” She sensed that somehow, some way, her deep sense of compassion, desire to protect animals and people, and her appreciation for style and beauty would bring something positive to the world.
5. Arti Upadhyay
Raised in a family of animal lovers, Arti Upadhyay grew up vegetarian. Her love of design and fashion led her to a job working for a footwear company when she was in college. In 2007, she set out on her own to create her own shoe company that more closely matched her compassionate values, and Neuaura was born. Neuaura shoes are 100% vegan, and the company focuses on using sustainable materials in their designs whenever possible. In addition, they donate 5% of sales to environmental nonprofits.
Gosia Piatek was new to the world of fashion and design when she started her clothing company, Kowtow. But a desire for “minimalist and effortless” clothing that had low environmental impact superseded any lack of traditional training. Gosia was inspired to create something better and different from what she was seeing in the market. Today, Kowtow’s entire collection is made only with ethically-sourced and environmentally sustainable materials. Kowtow uses only Fair Trade, organic cotton, and of course, every garment is 100% cruelty-free.
What does the production process of Fair Trade cotton look like? Take a look at this video from Kowtow:
7. Komie and Meg Vor
Founders and Designers, Delikate Rayne
Sister team Komie and Meg Vor embraced their inner rebels to create what they call a “grunge glam” fashion line – a tribute to “the effortless dynamism of the empowered female.” Raised in Orange County, CA in a traditional Indian family, they had to overcome the gender stereotypes of a culture that expects women and girls to act a certain way and fit a certain role.
Delikate Rayne (pronounced “delicate rain”) is a result of their refusal to fit any stereotype, while also paying tribute to their Indian/American upbringing. Raised as vegetarians by two compassionate parents, their line is 100% cruelty-free, and all of their clothes are made in the U.S.A. (Source: NBC News.) And their design philosophy reflects class American style: “Abandon limits, abandon convention, and embrace your own beauty.”
8. Stella McCartney
Founder and Designer, Stella McCartney
A trailblazer in the eco and vegan fashion scene, Stella McCartney is another name that is synonymous with ethical and cruelty-free fashion. Stella has never wavered from her sensibilities and approach to style. She has been described as a “consistent and vocal” supporter of animal rights and has won countless awards for design and social entrepreneurship. She’s a designer who wears her heart on her sleeve and helps the rest of us to do so too.
We love this video of Stella presented by Vogue Voices:
Shop for Stella McCartney on Amazon:
9. Gina Ferraraccio and Julie Dicterow
Founders and Designers, Cri de Coeur
Gina Ferraraccio and Julie Dicterow met as students at Parsons New School of Design in New York and bonded over their love of animals and concern for the environment. They wanted to offer fellow vegan and eco fashionistas alternatives to the materials typically used in the fashion industry that exploit animals.
Cri de Coeur, which translated from French means “cry from the heart,” is testament to their “heartfelt desire to change the face of the fashion footwear and accessory markets by providing stylish, contemporary products that are ethically produced.” Their addition of cutting edge designer Arden Wohl to the team means Cri de Coeur is developing even more vegan shoes and accessories that are changing the face of fashion as we know it.
Shop for Cri de Coeur on Amazon:
10. Elizabeth Olsen
Founder and Designer, olsen Haus
Elizabeth Olsen truly deserves the title of designer activist. She is an outspoken advocate for animals, voicing her belief that they should not be used food, clothing, experimentation, or entertainment. Her designs embody the statement on her website that says, “plundering, cruelty, and greed are not synonymous with true style.” We couldn’t agree more. Elizabeth has broken the stereotype of vegan fashion not being, well, fashionable. Gone is the convention that vegan shoes are flat, plastic, and orthopedic-looking. olsen Haus boasts stiletto heels, ankle straps, and fashion-forwarding sensibilities.
Here’s a video of Elizabeth being interviewed by the team at Planet Verge:
While their designs are more for comfort and movement than what you’d see on a typical Paris runway, sister team Julia and Laura Ahrens are pushing the envelope on the use of better materials in their clothing. Miakoda is the antithesis of the toxic, chemical-ridden, and cruel fast fashion movement, making it all seem strange and unnecessary.
Trained at Parsons School of Design, Julia is a self-described “former shopaholic turned sustainable lifestyler vegan yogi.” She and her fellow yogini sister, Laura, create clothing that is “soft, cozy, and comfortable” while being ethically made and environmentally conscious. And we can’t love them enough for breaking the body-type stereotype that plagued the fashion industry of old.
12. Helga Douglas
Founder and Designer, Svala
Helga Douglas named her company for the Icelandic name for a swallow bird. A symbol of “love, loyalty, freedom, and hope” in many cultures, the swallow represents the values that Helga has put into her handbags, lingerie, and sleepwear lines. Svala utilizes sustainable materials, like cork and Pinatex®, as well as organic cotton, reclaimed lace, and recycled polyester in their products. And taking things a step further, they offset their carbon emissions and utilize local manufacturing in Los Angeles, CA.
13. Tina Tangalakis
Founder, Della Fashion
After studying costume design at California Institute of the Arts and then working as a costume maker and wardrobe stylist for film and television, Tina Tangalakis was feeling a little burned out; as though her work lacked a deeper purpose. Wanting to give back, she participated in an international volunteer program that took her to Hohoe, Ghana.
In Ghana, Tina was inspired by the culture, design, and artisan work she saw. Teaming up with a local friend and entrepreneur, Selorm “Nii” Addotey, she created Della to bring Ghanaian fashion to the U.S. and to provide jobs, education, and skills-training for the people of Hohoe.
Here’s Tina giving an inspiring TED Talk about how she found her true calling:
14. Stephanie Nicora
Founder and Designer, Nicora
A winner of the PETA Most Talented New Designer Award, Stephanie Nicora is a classically-trained shoemaker who is intent on making leather shoes a thing of the past. Describing shoe making as her “craft and passion,” the vegan designer couldn’t stand the destructiveness of the footwear industry, where workers toil away in grueling and unsafe conditions and animals are exploited for their skin.
Stephanie felt that she didn’t have to compromise her values to create beautiful, high-quality footwear. Utilizing eco-friendly production methods, including a solar-powered production facility, Nicora boasts some compelling statistics when it comes to how their shoes are manufactured vs. traditional methods: Every pair they make uses eight fewer gallons of fossil fuels, 11,000 fewer kwt hours of electricity, and saves tens of thousands of gallons of water.
Here’s a video of Stephanie presented by PETA:
15. Puja Barar
Founder, Satva Living
After working in New York as a designer and having her first child, Puja Bara knew she needed to make a change. Turned off by the environmental destruction caused by the clothing industry and the poor treatment of workers, she teamed up with a partner in Mumbai named Sameer Mehra, the managing director at of Suminter India Organics, a provider of high-quality organic food and fiber products that are produced under environmentally and socially conscious conditions. (Source: Forbes.)
Satva translates to “pure” in Sanskrit. Satva’s entire line of comfortable, breathable activewear is made with eco-friendly fabrics, including GOTS certified organic cotton and recycled polyester. Their fabrics are colored with natural, non-toxic, plant-based dyes. And Satva donates a portion of their profits to programs that support girls’ education in impoverished communities in India.
Here’s a video with Puja on the story of Satva Living:
An American model who hails from the Western-style town of Placerville, CA, Christy Dawn Petersen turned her fashion know-how and love of classic dressmaking into an Earth-friendly clothing line with a cult following. Christy Dawn’s dresses are made from “deadstock” fabrics, which are the unused scraps left over from the traditional fashion manufacturing process. Christy Dawn’s dresses are the antithesis of the mass-produced fast fashion products you find at any mall; each vintage-inspired dress is made in a very limited supply in downtown Los Angeles, CA.
17. Bianca Moran
Founder and Creative Director, Susi Studio
Vegan since the age of 14, Bianca Moran is both a restaurateur, having founded the first vegan and gluten-free restaurant in the Philippines, and a distinguished designer. Susi Studio creates irresistible shoes made with faux leather, faux patent leather, and faux suede, as well as other vegan materials like recycled plastic and denim. Susi Studios’ shoes are made in Portugal and Hong Kong, and the company ensures workers make fair wages, and work in safe conditions. Susi’s Hong Kong factory is owned and operated entirely by women.
Ah inspiration! Thank you, Ladies! You put wind in our sails!
UniGuide’s photo caption linking is broken right now! To read more about these amazing creators and see the sources of the photos, here they are in order of appearance:
There’s no doubt about it, eco-friendly sunglasses make a fashion forward statement in today’s world. Not only are they planet-friendly, but the variety of sustainable materials available – including wood, bamboo, recycled ocean plastic, and even bioplastic – make for a variety of cool styles. You’ll be sure to find the perfect pair in style and function.
Why should you buy sunglasses made from sustainable materials?
Did you know that Americans alone buy 96 million pairs of sunglasses every year? (Statistic Brain.) If you combine this with sunglasses purchased by people from other countries, you can see there’s a massive market for this accessory! After your cell phone charger, sunscreen, razor, and toothbrush – sunglasses are the most common item that you’ll forget to pack when leaving for vacation. (Statista.) So, what do you do? You buy a new pair! And you can only imagine how many sunglasses are left at the beach and then end up in the sea, contributing to the plastic crisis that is happening on in the world’s oceans right now.
Thankfully, wood sunglasses, recycled sunglasses, and others made with sustainable materials are starting to hit the beaches and streets around the world. Frankly, they can’t get here fastest enough! Here are some brands making super cool eco-friendly sunglasses.
Today, you can find wooden-framed sunglasses made with cherry, maple, pear, and other varieties of wood. And because every tree is different, no two pairs are exactly the same.
4est Shades is a new brand on the scene that can’t be ignored. Their wooden sunglasses are all natural and handmade out of gorgeous maple and cherry wood. 4est Shades also makes styles in bamboo that are sleek and dripping with Ray-Ban-cool style.
All of 4est’s eco-friendly sunglasses are polarized to provide the UV protection you’d expect from any top brand. Plus, their high-quality wooden and bamboo sunglasses are super durable. These babies are built to last! Every pair of sunglasses comes with an engraved bamboo case and a microfiber cloth for upkeep and safekeeping.
4est Shades may be making wood frame sunglasses, but don’t doubt their forest-friendly mission. They plant two trees for every pair of sunglasses they sell. [Purchase on Amazon.]
Amoloma is a no-frills, no-jokes brand that is in the game to make the best eco-friendly sunglasses on the market. In addition to their cool wood sunglasses, they produce styles made from bamboo, cellulose acetate, and recycled skateboards.
The lenses in Amoloma’s sunglasses are polarized for optimal UV protection. Among their wood sunglasses, they offer a variety of natural tones. And if you’re looking for even more colorful options, check out their styles made from recycled skateboards. [Purchase on Amazon.]
A pioneer in the sustainable eyewear industry, Proof has been making eco-friendly wooden sunglasses since 2010. Their wooden frames are FSC certified. FSC is short for the Forest Stewardship Council, which is an international nonprofit that sets global standards for forest products. These standards help to promote eco-friendly, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world’s forests. In addition to using sustainable materials in their products, Proof donates to charitable organization around the world. Through their Do Good Program, they donate 12% of their annual profits to these causes.
In recent years, Proof has ventured out of the sawmill and expanded to using recycled aluminum and bioplastics in their frames. This Boise, Idaho-based company offers a great selection of designs and colors, and each frame is handcrafted. You’ll find a pair that’s truly your own. Proof lenses are UVA and UVB protected, and if you need prescription lenses you can easily switch out their standard lenses for your own. [Purchase on Amazon.]
Sherwood Shades is a relative newcomer in the wooden sunglasses market, but their ebony wood shades are making a splash. Their cool dark frames are handmade from sustainable and eco-friendly sources. Plus, the quality they offer for the price is hard to beat.
Sherwood’s sunglasses are perfect for beachgoers and poolside loungers, and not just because they provide superior UV protection. Sherwood Shades also float, so you won’t have to worry about losing your sunglasses while lounging in the pool or playing in the waves. [Purchase on Amazon.]
As the name implies, Woodies is all about wooden sunglasses. Like we are, they’re devoted to making petrol-plastic a thing of the past. Thus, Woodies offers a wide variety of men’s and women’ styles. Plus, they offer a broad selection of frame shapes and an impressive collection of woods, including rose, zebra, and the exquisite walnut. [Purchase on Amazon.]
Hammockable plants five trees for every pair of sunglasses they sell in partnership with the nonprofit Trees for the Future. The organization helps families transition from destructive farming techniques to a forest garden system that helps sustain them for the long term. Hammockable gets the natural maple wood for their sunglasses from the unused wood scraps that are left over from the production of skateboards. [Purchase on Amazon.]
Bamboo often gets put in the wood category because it has properties that are so similar to wood. However, bamboo is actually a super fast-growing grass; not a tree. Many of the companies mentioned above also make sunglasses from bamboo, so be sure to check out their collections to find the perfect pair to suit your style. Here are a couple more brands that are making sunglasses with sustainable bamboo.
It seems fitting that companies today that are making recycled sunglasses are doing so with reclaimed ocean plastic. You can sit pretty at the beach in a pair of these, knowing you’re doing a small part to resolve the plastic pollution crisis.
On their website, Blue Planet says their goals are “straightforward: to help protect the planet, change lives, and have fun.” Founded in Santa Barbara, California, the company has been hard at work since 2009 bringing socially responsible and eco-friendly eyewear to people all over the world. They don’t just stick to the basics, either. They strive to satisfy all kinds of customers with eyewear made from a range of sustainable materials, including recycled plastic, recycled metal, wood, bamboo, and cork.
Blue Planet offers a variety of lenses as well. They provide standard polarized lenses as well as lenses with maximum UV protection for extra-sensitive eyes. In addition to their super cool sunglasses, they also make reading glasses. With every pair of glasses they sell, Blue Planet donates a pair of glasses to someone in need via their global sight giving partners. To date, they’ve helped over 400,000 visually impaired people around the world.
Bureo collects old fishing nets that are polluting the ocean, breaks them down into tiny pellets, and recycles them into a recycled plastic that makes some very cool shades. Bureo’s founders created a recycling program in Chile dubbed “Net Positiva,” which provides collection points where fishermen and other locals can drop off discarded fishing nets that are polluting the ocean and harming marine life. According to Bureo, fishing nets make up 10% of the plastic pollution in the ocean. The Net Positiva program gets the fishing nets out of the sea, while providing financial incentives to local communities to help. Bureo also makes other recycled products, like skateboards and Frisbees. We look forward to seeing what they’ll develop next.
Dex Shades might win the award for the gnarliest recycled sunglasses you can find. They recycle old skateboards and convert them into cool sunglasses that are subtly colorful and unique. Their quality sunglasses are super lightweight (less than 1 oz.), have polarized lenses, and spring-fit hinges for laid back comfort. As if you’d need more persuading beyond how cool these eco sunglasses are, Dex Shades plants a tree for every product they sell.
Unwilling to sit back and let the eight million metric tons of plastic pollution destroy our oceans, the founders of Norton Point have made it their mission to clean up the mess and recycle ocean plastic into high-quality, durable sunglasses. Their sunglasses are all made with recycled ocean plastic and plant-based materials. Based in Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, Norton Point donates 5% of their net profits to global ocean clean-up, education, and remediation practices. They offer a large selection of men’s and women’s sunglasses, all of which come standard with ultra-strong stainless steel hinges. Their lenses feature 100% UVA and UVB protection and an anti-reflective coating so you’ll be ready for the most intensely sunny days.
Solo Eyewear isn’t just a brand; it’s a remarkable project. Solo is devoted to service and giving back, and with every pair of sunglasses they sell, they help restore the vision of a person in need, whether it be an elderly person in an underdeveloped nation thousands of miles away or an impoverished child closer to home. Solo Eyewear’s sunglasses are made with 100% sustainable materials, including repurposed bamboo and recycled plastic, plus they’re lightweight and durable. Their lenses are UV protected and prescription-friendly. And when it comes to selection, they offer a variety of shapes and colors. If you want to look great and be a part of something bigger, you can’t go wrong with Solo Eyewear.
In addition to recycled plastic, today you can find some great styles of sunglasses that are made with cellulose acetate, which is a synthetic compound that is derived from plant cellulose. Cellulose is a readily biodegradable substance by organisms that use cellulose enzymes. So, cellulose acetate, depending on how it’s made and on environmental conditions, is more easily biodegradable than traditional petrol-plastic.
Music is one of the greatest joys of my life. I’ve got a rebellious, anti-establishment nature, and it’s one of the things I truly appreciate about my favorite artists – that they’re not afraid to go against the grain and speak their minds.
That innate rebelliousness must be why leather originally made its way into the styles worn by so many musical performers, from hip hop artists, to rockers, to metal heads, country artists, and more.
It’s arguable where the association of leather and rebelliousness originated, and not to mention, the association of leather and sex appeal. Cowboys, outlaws, and Native Americans in the Wild West wore leather, probably more for functionality than looks, but that’s how fashion is born – like any art form, it reflects the cultural perceptions of an era.
Wikipedia sources the original leather jacket back to the early 1900s, when they were worn by aviators, and then became known as “bomber jackets” in WWII. Leather jackets were also worn by the rebellious Russian Bolsheviks, who came to power during the Russian Revolution of 1917. Of course, one of the most iconic rebels of all time, James Dean, wore leather. And later on, one of my all time favorites – Jim Morrison did too.
But all of that is interesting history, and we are living in the now. Our world is different today, and thus what it means to be a rebel is different. If you’re not a rebel for your own times, then you’re just a relic.
Neither the Bolsheviks nor the Lizard King had access to social media the way we do today. And through social media, I’ve come to learn a lot more about leather and what it takes to produce it. It is anything but sexy.
Every year, the global leather industry slaughters more than one billion animals for their skins and hides (PETA). That is far too many sensitive, social creatures suffering greatly because we want to wear leather – despite the fact that we have scads of super cool alternatives to choose from (unlike our forebears in the Wild West.) Animals used by humans to make clothing, shoes, wallets, purses, luggage, and other accessories include cows, crocodiles, snakes, ostriches, and even dogs and cats. Not only do the animals suffer, but our health and the environment do too.
The production of leather and suede isn’t healthy for the workers who are producing it. Skin is a biological material that naturally decomposes when it’s dead. Leather clothing and shoes do not decompose because they’ve been treated with chemical preservatives during the tanning process. Tanning is considered one of the most toxic industrial processes in the world due to the number of harmful chemicals used. (Gizmodo)
I’ll venture to say that the true rebels today are the ones who are ditching leather altogether, and hopefully, setting the trend for others to follow in their footsteps.
Call me overly sensitive, but I hate it when I see my favorite musical artists wearing leather, like I hate it if I learn that one of my favorite athletes cheats by using performance-enhancing drugs. It turns me off and, yeah, it gets in the way of my enjoyment of their music or their sport.
The two reasons it bugs me more when they do it than when other people do (though that bugs me too) is that, fair or not, musical artists and professional athletes are watched, listened to, adored, and celebrated far more than, say, dentists or bus drivers. They’re envied because they’re making money doing what they love, they’re good at it, and they even get the chicks (or the dudes, as the case may be.) They have the almighty power to influence a lot of people and to shift culture.
I can see why someone would want to be like Jim Morrison. He was irreverent, sexy, and talented. But Jim Morrison is dead and so are his leather pants.
If you’re a musical performer and you have any sense of empathy or respect for life, don’t wear animal skin. You have the power to influence the style of dozens, if not thousands, of fans, and to therefore dispel a hell of a lot of suffering from the world.
The Purple Suede Fringe Pants
When I was in my twenties, I owned a pair of purple suede hip huggers that laced up the front and had long purple suede fringe from the knees to the floor. When I found those pants in a used clothing store in Austin, my only two thoughts were: Damn, those are cool! and Will they fit? I wasn’t thinking about the fact that they were made with someone else’s skin.
They reminded me of The Who and Cher and Sly and the Family Stone. I felt like a rock star when I wore them. They were vintage, so they were recycled, and recycling is better than putting old things into the landfill, right? But if I had been aware then of what I am today, I would not have bought those pants. Those pants were attention getters – and based on what I know today, I don’t want that kind of attention.
At the risk of sounding like a hypocrite, you can look in my closet and find a pair of leather boots and a pair of leather hiking shoes. They’re not worn out yet, and I may still get some use out of them, so I’ve kept them. But honestly, I can’t look at them without thinking about animals.
I know it’s unrealistic to expect everyone to go through their closets and replace every item they own that’s made from animals with something new that’s vegan. But we can all start. When it comes to buying new things – it’s high time that all of us ditch the animal skin. And it’s way over time for clothing, shoes, and accessories designers to stop designing cruelty into their creations.
Let’s be rebels with a cause: and that cause is to get others to stop buying and wearing animals’ skin.
Here are some cool products that are not made with leather: