What are the best non-leather athletic shoes?
July 15, 2008 2:28 PM   Subscribe

What are the best non-leather athletic shoes?

Athletic shoes are one of the few products for which I've been unable to find non-animal replacements. I did have some nice Adidas hemp Gazelles, but I don't think Adidas makes them anymore, and anyway, those shoes would have only been average for indoor soccer. I would certainly take them now (for a non-extravagant price).

For semi-serious football/soccer shoes (both cleats and flats), are there any good non-leather alternatives? While I'm at it, how about basketball or tennis? (Soccer cleats should double for baseball.) Ice skates?!

I do know about Chuck Taylors, of course, but if I played in any sort of game with largish men, I would want a bit more ankle protection, i.e. a serious athletic shoe. Thanks for any tips.
posted by mrgrimm to Shopping (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
New Balance makes a bunch of shoes with a synthetic/mesh upper, like the 768. I'm not sure where else in the shoe they would use leather.
posted by smackfu at 3:04 PM on July 15, 2008

speaking as a former vegan...

as far as sneakers go - if you look hard enough, many athletic running/walking type sneaks like Asics or New Balance are made with synthetic materials. some styles will have leather but other styles will be completely synthetic. look at the tag on the box or shoe that displays the material compositions.....little diamonds mean synthetics, little animal-hide shapes mean leather. also, many companies that make skateboard shoes (ipath, vans, es) will make vegan shoes b/c there is a crossover with hardcore straightedge vegans folks that skate.

as far as things like cleats and skates go, i'd guess you'd have a hard time finding non-leather alternatives. the demand for alternative materials just isn't there.
posted by gnutron at 3:07 PM on July 15, 2008

Second the New Balance and Asics (though Asics were more geared toward running last time I looked). In discussions with other vegans the unfortunate consensus is that for specialty items we may either have to look for used items to minimize additional animal use and abuse or bite the proverbial bullet, hoping the next time we need to buy something like that an animal-free option will be available.
posted by justnathan at 3:17 PM on July 15, 2008

I think Steve & Barry's sells athletic shoes in their Stephon Marbury line called Starbury that are not made of leather. (I can't tell for sure based on the site I linked to) Another plus is that they sell them for only about $15. The Wikipedia link does indicate that even for $15 they are of decent quality. Apparently Stephon Marbury wears them to play in the NBA, so they must be decent.
posted by bove at 3:25 PM on July 15, 2008

Lots (and lots) of cleats are made of synthetic leather. PVC or whatever. They look like leather from across the room, but they're made of delicious delicious petrochemicals. This is especially true in the cheaper end of the range. *Indoor* cleats might be harder to come by in PVC. Not sure.
posted by zpousman at 4:02 PM on July 15, 2008

Zappos has a vegetarian section but nothing really for soccer or basketball; mostly running and skateboarding. There's the Nike Considered line of shoes which has several animal-free options but the Considered basketball shoes that I've seen released thus far use recycled/scrap leather, and in general they don't clearly list which ones are animal-free. There's also a thread here at veggieboards from last year where several people have asked the big shoemakers and posted what models were made without animal parts.

Apparently Stephon Marbury wears them to play in the NBA, so they must be decent.

posted by Challahtronix at 4:16 PM on July 15, 2008

You might be able to find hockey skates that don't use leather. It's not really a central part to hockey skate design. Most of the materials are synthetic. The tongues I guess usually have leather. It's been a while since I bought a pair. There may be some out there with no leather on the tongue.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 5:07 PM on July 15, 2008

Thanks for the tips, but it was about as much as I expected, unfortunately. Oh well. I suppose there are about as many vegans as open homosexuals in the NBA. Just you wait 200 years. ;)

I had heard about the Starbury, but I have yet to see one anywhere! (As far as I know.)

What makes this an extra "Soon my Electro-Ray Will Destroy Metropolis" level of superdickery is that people are consciously buying shoes intended for the underprivileged for the purpose of reselling them for profit. I would like to extend a hearty "FUCK YOU" to those people.

Hilarious. And yet agreed. Thanks for that link. (site note: I just checked eBay and the standard sale seems to be 1 pair of Starbury (which is "two shoes") for $19-23+ ... plus $13+ shipping. God bless America. FUCK YOU, EBAY.)

I wonder if the synthetics used to create those shoes are worse for the planet than killing cows. Probably.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:04 PM on July 15, 2008

Also, the review calls it both pleather and leather, and I couldn't figure out which it was.

If I'm going to buy shoes for occasional to semi-regular soccer or basketball, it might as well be leather, I suppose. They'll last 6-8 years sometimes, and that has to be better than 2-3 pairs of plastics. Too bad there aren't any durable alternatives for outdoor use.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:08 PM on July 15, 2008

I don't know if any'll fit your needs, but Vegetarian Shoes has several models that MooShoes carry if you don't want to order from the UK.
posted by cmonkey at 3:01 AM on July 16, 2008

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