Recommendations for men's work sneakers
May 3, 2021 10:05 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to buy some durable sneakers to wear to work. For ethical reasons, I'd like them to be free from any leather. I'm in the US.

In the past, I've typically bought Asics sneakers, but three bad pairs in a row has caused me to give up on them. Maybe it was just bad luck, but I'm not trying a fourth time.

I'm not so much interested in cushioning as I am in a snug fit that won't get sloppy-loose over time. I plan on putting arch supports in them. Also, I'd like to avoid shoes that feature garish colors.
posted by alex1965 to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I love my Allbirds for this. The wool ones, dark grey with a dark grey sole, were conservative enough for my office, anyway. I've worn them nearly every day for a year and they are still comfy and look the same as they did when I bought them (I am wearing through the removable insole, though, so I will replace that probably this summer).
posted by gauche at 10:24 AM on May 3, 2021 [3 favorites]

My teenage son used to wear out sneakers every 2-3 months until I startered buying him (leather-free) New Balance. Now he actually has a chance to outgrow them before they fall apart. New Balance has lots of leather-free options and I feel has more ethical labor practices than some of the other big sneaker companies.
posted by mezzanayne at 10:24 AM on May 3, 2021

Possibly the worst possible answer, but I'd like to recommend Asics... wait! I just mean, they have some relevant lines that aren't so easy to find any more. My favorite shoe of all time was an Asics Onitsuka Tiger Ultimate 81 in all synthetic/vegan (black/stone grey, if you see any in 10.5 US I'll pay you). I have half a dozen pairs. And you're right, they don't make them like they used to.

But! If you search eBay (as I do regularly) for "ultimate 81 vegan" or the like in your size you may get some of them for a good price. There's a lot of deadstock out there and I've been snagging them for $50-70 every few months for years.

Alternatively if you just want to buy new, you might like one of the direct to consumer brands like Atoms. They're very nondescript and come in quarter sizes IIRC.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 10:27 AM on May 3, 2021

Adidas has a variety of vegan shoes, as well as shoes made with recycled materials (but I'm not sure if those are free from leather or not).
posted by jabes at 10:44 AM on May 3, 2021

Shoes for Crews were recommended by friends in the food industry for being comfortable, affordable, safe, and long-wearing. They have a variety of styles, non-leather, and non-garish colors. They serve other industries as well.
posted by maxg94 at 12:02 PM on May 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

If your workplace is sufficiently casual, the black colorway of the Nike Pegasus Trail 2 Gore-Tex would seem to meet everything you're looking for. It has a trail-running sole, which will take longer to wear out than a road shoe sole. It's made of synthetic materials that won't stretch significantly.

Bonus features, for me at least: between the lug sole and the waterproof-ness, it's also a decent choice for hiking.
posted by box at 2:06 PM on May 3, 2021

I have been wearing Lems Primal 2s for four or maybe five years now, and while I buy other shoes for variety's sake sometimes, those are what I wear to work every day.
I'm not sure what kind of durability you're looking for, but these wear a pretty long time for as thin and light as they are.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 1:20 AM on May 4, 2021

I am a late adopter of Converse All Stars / Chucks. They are leather free. They have a great snug fit, and the high tops give me a heel fit than any other shoe.
posted by Gor-ella at 1:09 PM on May 4, 2021

Came here to say Allbirds.
posted by thereader at 1:37 PM on May 4, 2021

Response by poster: Thanks for all the tips. I should have specified that the sneakers have to be vegan, so the wool shoes wouldn't work for me (I didn't even realize that you could make shoes out of wool). I ended up buying these Wantdo trail-running shoes. I've worn them for a couple of days, and I like them so far.
posted by alex1965 at 8:07 AM on May 11, 2021

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