Pleather Your Tot’s Tootsies
My son, Isaiah, was born in the middle of one of Norfolk’s hideous, muggy summers, so there was no need to add “vegan baby shoes” to the long list of things that I had to worry about right away (i.e., “Will I ever sleep again?”, “What’s a Boppy?”, and “How can someone so small make such big … noises?”). I’ve eschewed leather and all other animal products since I learned nearly a decade ago that animals are often skinned alive, and it’s no problem at all for me to find nonleather shoes for myself or my husband (we’re partial to MooShoes, but our local Payless works in a pinch too). I didn’t see a need to abandon my ethics in order to put shoes on my son, and the time eventually came for the boy to get some shoes.
Oy, was I in for a surprise! After several failed attempts at my local big-box store to find infant shoes that weren’t ugly, didn’t seem like tiny toe prisons, or weren’t made of dead animal skins, I stumbled upon IsaBooties and fell in love. Soft yet solidly constructed, easy to pull on and off, and cute as can be, the shoes were a great transition from the freedom of bare feet to the world of proper grown-up shoes. There are lots of other sources for vegan baby booties (check out the list below), but IsaBooties was my favorite, in part because their whole line of shoes is animal-free and made in the USA, and the company provides great customer service. The shoes were washable and durable, and they had nonslip soles that made Isaiah’s first steps on our hardwood floors a bit easier to manage.
On the sad day when I realized that to walk on pavement, Isaiah would need nonbootie shoes, we headed for two vegan-friendly brands—Vans and New Balance, both of which carry super fun, animal-free styles. Once he reached the proper shoe stage, the options also got better at places like Target, which carries Isaiah’s favorite rain boots ever (I’ve already picked out the next pair). Caveat emptor: Be sure to read product descriptions thoroughly before you buy—look for “synthetic” or “all man- made” materials.
Check out the following online resources—oh, and don’t be afraid to buy your kids’ shoes online. You may have been bitten in the past by online shoe shopping, but chances are pretty good that if your itty bitty footwear is a bit too big when it arrives, it’ll fit before you know it.
Do you have a fave vegan infant, toddler, or kids shoe? Tell me about it!