No Animals Were Harmed

As young adults and other consumers become increasingly concerned about the environment and make their purchase decisions accordingly, marketers of apparel, accessories, and footwear are touting a growing number of vegan products. These are made of natural materials or recycled synthetics in lieu of leather and other animal-based components. Vegan footwear in particular is starting to be a hotbed for collaborations, especially involving celebrities.

Some recent examples:

  • Just last week, actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, under her Casa Zeta-Jones label, announced a vegan leather shoe line with Butterfly Twists. The collection consists of two “leather” sneaker styles in multiple colors that take inspiration from the celebrity’s Welsh roots. (At the same time, Zeta-Jones introduced an active wear line with Body Wrappers.)
  • Actor Jason Momoa partnered with So iLL, a maker of climbing apparel, in March for two limited-edition sneakers made of materials such as algae and cork. The vegan shoes, in purple and lavender with a surface design inspired by Momoa’s tattoos, are part of a broader range with Momoa called the So iLL x On the Roam collection, which includes sandals, flip-flops, climbing shoes, and a casual everyday style. All are positioned as sustainable, although only the two styles are entirely vegan.
  • Singer, actor, and entrepreneur Jaden Smith paired with New Balance for a vegan shoe collaboration last summer, called the NB for Jaden Smith Vision Racer. Several colors of the chunky sneaker dropped throughout last year, starting with a baby blue version in July 2020.
  • Model, socialite, and designer Nicky Hilton collaborated in April of this year with French Sole for three styles of footwear (a sneaker and two flats) in a variety of colors and patterns. This marks Hilton’s fourth collaboration with the brand, but the first that is vegan, or sustainable. The shoes are made of recycled cotton, linen, and rubber; vegan microfibers; natural jute; and other materials.
  • Actress Nikki Reed, who has a socially conscious lifestyle brand, Bayou With Love, and sustainable footwear label Løci launched four styles of sneakers in April. They are made of recycled ocean plastics, cork, natural rubber, and recycled brass eyelets, all in neutral colors.

Celebrities are not the only IP owners to collaborate on vegan footwear collections. Other partners range from designers (e.g. Sean Wotherspoon with Adidas and Marc Jacobs with Dr. Martens) to nonprofit organizations (Peta with NAE). Meanwhile fashion categories outside of footwear also have produced collaborative vegan merchandise, ranging from bags (Pamela Anderson with Ashoka Pairs) to sweatshirts (Umbro with Vegan Tiger). It is almost certain that the world of vegan fashion partnerships will expand and diversify over time as the industry continues to focus on sustainable practices.

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