When the subject of meat consumption comes up, I describe myself as vegan-adjacent. While I haven’t eaten beef, pork, chicken, turkey or any other mammal in over a decade, I sometimes indulge in fish and the occasional bit of ice cream, cheese or eggs. Largely plant-based, but hardly strict, my dietary discipline is a progression, not an absolutist dogma.

My approach to leather goods is similar. I very occasionally buy a pair of new leather shoes (emphasis very occasionally). As of this writing, I have exactly eight pairs of leather shoes or boots. The oldest pair is ten years old, and the most recent purchase happened last year.

Buying a leather good is not something I do frivolously for a number of reasons, primarily because I grow less okay with killing sentient beings to look cool or indulge a food whim. The minute Alden or Crocket & Jones can source a beautiful, workable and durable faux dress shoe leather that stands up to shell cordovan, I’ll be the first to buy a pair of wing tips or chukka boots made with it.

Sneaker leather, however, is a different story. It doesn’t require the rigidity, durability or shine that a good dress shoe leather does. It’s more about flexibility. And when I learned that Adidas made one of their most iconic sneaker designs in a vegan leather, I was eager to give them a try.

I had heard about the vegan Stan Smith sneakers and did a little reading up. The company is planning on using only recycled polyester by 2024. The updated Stan Smiths are crafted with vegan uppers and outsoles made from rubber waste. They also use something they call Primegreen, a series of high-performance recycled materials. No new polyester, with 50% of the upper made from recycled content.

The look? The iconic design is exactly the same, though we have some choices in color beyond that original classic green for that patch over the heel. I chose the classic “cloud white” sneakers with a navy patch. Fantastic.

The feel? They feel great. Just as they always have. As anyone who’s read or followed me knows, I’m not a total sneakers person. We all need at least one pair of sneakers for exercise, and other than these, I have exactly one other pair of sneakers (white Jack Purcells). I wear my vegan Stan Smiths when I ride my bike or take the dogs for a walk on a dry day. Sometimes I’ll wear them with chinos when I run errands on the weekend. And if an unexpected invitation to play tennis comes up, I’m covered. I absolutely love them, and I’m very happy I bought them.

The price? $95.

At the end of the day, this isn’t just about a pair of faux leather sneakers. It’s about a much larger consideration in my own life. It’s about considering the impact of the choices I make, on however small the scale. The little things add up.

I’m not a perfect consumer. I’ll never be a perfect consumer. What I can be, however, is a better consumer… a more conscious and conscientious consumer. Getting these sneakers was a figurative and literal step in the right direction.

Maintenance bonus: Gentle wipes with a cloth and soapy water keep these babies mighty clean.

A little favor…

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6 Comments

  1. Theron Paul Stevenson

    This is great info! I’m not a perfect consumer either, and I’m skeptical of the the degree to which individual consumers’ choices can drive meaningful change. But it just feels better to make consumer choices that comport with our ethical aims, and I’m glad to hear these shoes exist and are worth trying. I always appreciate your articles!

  2. stephen dimmick

    I wear the Superstar vegan Adidas. I love that I can just throw them in the washing machine and they look like new!

    • jeprothero

      You’re a good man George. Thank you for your content.

      • I have read that cordovan is sourced from horses that die of natural causes, so it feels like a case of not letting a good thing going to waste.

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