I want more vegan, supportive shoes that don't look it.
July 7, 2013 8:46 AM   Subscribe

I think I may be the most difficult shoe-buyer ever. I want them to be 1) vegetarian (no leather) and 2) actually supportive and good for my knees and feet or able to hold supportive orthotics such that they become that way. This generally gets me a small selection of flat boots, oxfords, and sneakers, with the odd casual/sporty mary-jane thrown in. I'd like to have more than just boots to go with dresses/skirts (particularly for the summer or for really dressy dresses), but I thought it was an impossibility and had moved on with my life. But lo, I just discovered the brand Orthaheel, and they have cute flat vegetarian orthotic sandals! Why oh why did the world hide this brand from me until now?! Do you know of other brands or specific shoes that will expand my shoe cuteness?

And, are there any very short heels that don't feel like they're heels at all and aren't bad for you? Because that would be amazing.

Difficulty enhanced: my feet are just weirdly shaped or something, and standard flats like this just do not stay on. Whenever shoe store fitters hear that standard flats won't work, they look on in amazement after they tell me it's a sizing issue and they can solve it because... it's not, and they can't. My heels just do not stay in without a strap that keeps the flats on or a bended footbed that keeps it on via tension. So generally I need a flat like this or this.

So. In summary I want my new shoes to be: 1) vegetarian 2) supportive or capable of adding orthotics and generally healthy to wear 3) if a flat, needs a strap or bendy footbed 4) DRESSY and 5) with bonus treasure quest for a heel that would not hurt my knees or feet.
posted by vegartanipla to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (10 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Thank you for asking this. I'm a dude, but I do have a vegetarian girlfriend I'd like to start getting to wear less leather.

Vegankicks.com is good. It seems skewed towards men, but they link to a lot of vegan sites, so perhaps they'll be one you didn't know about.

Incidentally, I know you said dressy, but I've found New Balance sneakers to be really comfortable and some are vegan. Also Adidas and Puma have a few vegan sneaks.
posted by nevercalm at 8:52 AM on July 7, 2013

posted by oceanjesse at 9:04 AM on July 7, 2013

http://www.zappos.com/vegan seems to have a large selection.
posted by thatone at 9:28 AM on July 7, 2013

What's your budget?

If a little on the higher side, (and you don't mind not trying stuff on, and you don't mind waiting) I'd recommend looking at Shoes of Prey. The shoes are custom-made and can be made with a variety of fabrics (including several vegan options). I have a pair of oxford-style flats from them that I feel aren't terribly supportive (I can walk around all day in them, but can do that with ballet flats as well, so that's not a great indicator). If you order from them, I'd include a little note that they need to be able to accommodate an orthotic. Since they're custom, the people there often handle special requests. And you can add a strap to any flats or heels you make! I don't have any heels from them so can't comment on that, but you can go as low as 1.5", and you can do a wedge rather than a traditional heel, which I find better for my back in general.

I've only ordered one pair from them (they are outside of my typical shoe budget) but am very happy, I get compliments from strangers sometimes several times a day.
posted by matcha action at 9:53 AM on July 7, 2013

Orthaheel gave me horrible knee pains. I think they're good for certain people built a certain way, but I'm not one of them. :/ I was sad.

Fluevog carries some vegan shoes.
posted by wintersweet at 10:30 AM on July 7, 2013

I can't speak to the vegan part, but I have narrow heels so I feel ya! A shoe salesperson told me once to look for flats with high backs as those will stay on better. I also find if they have a deeper front (no "toe cleavage").
posted by radioamy at 11:55 AM on July 7, 2013

I don't know anything about shopping for women's shoes so I can't help with specifics, but you might want to look at MooShoes. Here are all their women's shoes, and you can filter by high heels, flats, sandals, etc. It's a store with just one location in New York, but they'll ship to you. If you call or email them, you should be able to get right through to one of the store staff, who can answer any questions. I know it's a problem that you can't try them on before buying online, but since vegan shoes are a small niche, it might be worth trying this out and returning the shoes if they don't fit.
posted by John Cohen at 12:29 PM on July 7, 2013

I like these guys. I wear orthotics and they fit comfortably into everything I've bought from them so far.
posted by mukade at 3:57 PM on July 7, 2013

Mooshoes are good, but they're pricey. Vegetarian shoes are extra pricey because they're made in the UK and shipped here. I believe a lot of what mooshoes sells are from Vegetarian shoes and they haven't worked out a good import deal.

And for anyone else just in case, the Vevo Barefoot was literally the least comfortable shoe I've ever worn. Conversely, anything by Sanuk feels like your floating on pillow made of feathers cast off from angels' wings.
posted by nevercalm at 4:39 PM on July 7, 2013

I recommend the Anne Klein Dax Wedge.

It is amazingly comfortable, has a small heel to it, and is very stable. Because the material is stretchy, it accommodates hard-to-fit feet (like mine, and my mother's).
posted by aspen1984 at 11:03 PM on July 19, 2013

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