Textile Insight

March / April 2019

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Bearpaw Elle Tall and Elle Short 12 • Textile Insight ~ March/April 2019 textileinsight.com FOOTWEAR | VEGAN MATERIALS The New Vegan Footwear Brands Bet on Materials to Advance Sustainability in Animal-Free Styles. By Jennifer Ernst Beaudry egan footwear is on the rise. According to retail technology and analytics firm Edited, the number of new animal-product-free footwear options has grown dramatically in the U.S, making up 32 percent of new styles in January, versus only 16 percent of new looks the year before. That growth tracks with what consumers are demand- ing. According to a survey of American consumers commissioned by Footwear Insight from Mesh01, 60 percent of respondents said that it was either "very" or "somewhat" important that the shoes they buy be completely free of animal byproducts. And 48 percent of respondents said they would be willing to pay more for vegan-friendly styles. Of course, non-leather footwear is nothing new. The increased availability of performance synthetic textiles and more sophisticated manufacturing techniques have fueled growth in non-leather footwear for decades across almost all categories — as, certainly, have the lower prices of many synthetics when compared with leathers and suedes. But creating truly vegan styles means more than just not using leather. Calling a product vegan means digging into the supply chain and manufacturing processes to ensure that the adhesives, glues, and all the components are animal-free too, a more daunting challenge. But as demand grows, more and more brands have been dipping a toe into the animal-free market. And to that end, we asked brands active in the vegan space — both newly and longstanding — what trends they're seeing in the field. Here, they sound off on consumer motivation, growth potential and the materials the matter. How Big Is Vegan Now? "There's no question vegan is growing and will become a bigger and bigger part of our range; the demand is definitely there," Galahad Clark, founder of UK natural motion line Vivobarefoot, said. Clark said younger con- sumers especially are demanding animal-free products. Zachary Osness, VP of global sales and merchandis- ing for insole and footwear maker Sole, agreed. "In the last few years, we have seen a significant uptick in the number of consumers and retailers asking for vegan- friendly options," he said. But what might surprise you is how much business some brands are already doing in the space. Magnus Wedhammar, GM and VP for Goleta, CA-based V Brands cite both consumer demand for and their own internal goals for sustainable production as the motivation for changes. Sole Chukka

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