Workwear Boots See First Big Push Toward Vegan

·3 min read

Heritage boot-making company Blundstone is launching a new vegan style that is among the first mass-produced vegan workwear shoes on the market.

The launch follows a four-year development process, which kicked off when Blundstone observed hundreds of social media interactions from consumers requesting vegan shoes. The boots, offered in brown and black colorways for $190, will be sold at stores like REI Co-Op, J.Crew and Zappos, in addition to independent boutiques like DNA Footwear in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and Abbadabba’s in Atlanta, as well as on Blundstone’s website.

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Kate Shevack, Blundstone’s managing partner for brand initiatives and head of U.S. marketing, admitted that, “From a work and outdoor standpoint, vegan has not been a core for brands,” but that Blundstone, “had hundreds of requests through social channels and repeated requests, too, so this was very much a case of, ‘We listen, We hear you.’ Blundstone wouldn’t be a brand without the strength of our community and we try to be very deliberate and thoughtful in terms of product development. We find joy in listening to our community and developing something we are very proud of.”

In recent years the Tasmania-based Blundstone has become a favorite of artists and creatives across the U.S. — the boots are prized for their durability, how they form to the foot and patina over time.

In 2019, Blundstone took advantage of its newfound audience and staged a pop-up shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The company continues to make inroads in creative communities across the United States, and sees the new vegan line as a way to further its connection to that audience. “I would say our customer bridges a lifestyle element and utilitarian element. We have artists, craftsmakers, chefs. It’s the butcher, the baker and the cabinetmaker — a universe of people who often follow a passion in life. I think our new vegan line appeals to that universe as much as a lifestyle fashion consumer,” said Shevack.

The vegan styles closely mirror Blundstone’s original 550 Chelsea-style boot, which has been continuously produced since the ’60s and is Blundstone’s bestseller.

“We have a long history as boot manufacturers and our new vegan styles allow us to remain true to our brand mission. We are known for comfort and durability, and everything to do with this vegan boot incorporates the DNA of Blundstone,” said Shevack.

The boots were independently verified to be 100 percent vegan, and — similar to Blundstone’s leather boots — soften and shape-shift with wear. The brand hired the company Eurofins as an independent verifier, which tested the vegan boots for all traces of mammal, bird, fish, insect, mollusk and insect DNA along with checking for latent animal fibers.

The shoe’s vegan upper is made of OnMicro, a macro-fiber material produced by Grupo Moron that is water-resistant and anti-bacterial. The style has been tested at up to 150,000 flex cycles to ensure that its durability is on par with Blundstone’s non-vegan styles. It’s lined in the company’s OnSteam material that is breathable, anti-bacterial and anti-microbial, while also regulating temperature.

While the shoe is not made of bio-degradable or upcycled material, Shevack chalked up their durability as a notion of sustainability. “Blundstone has a firm commitment to behaving as ethical citizens. We are always working to improve business practices and minimize our impact on the environment. Our boots are made from the highest quality and most durable material. They are made to last and I think that’s a testament to slow fashion — it’s a question of what you define as sustainability,” she said.

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