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Kayla Pasko Kayla Pasko

What Makes a Shoe Vegan?

Nagaba Vegan is an eco-conscious company that specializes in making fashion-forward shoes with 100% vegan materials. Learn what makes a shoe vegan.

Step out in style with Nagaba Vegan Footwear. Nagaba Vegan specializes in crafting handmade shoes that are lightweight, breathable, antibacterial, weather-resistant, and—most importantly—fully vegan, with market-recognized Vegan Action certification. Read on to learn what makes a shoe vegan.

What Makes a Shoe Vegan?

The word vegan refers to a lifestyle that excludes all products derived from animals, such as meat, dairy, and eggs, as well as clothing and accessories that contain animal-based materials. So what makes a shoe vegan? Vegan shoes are constructed without the use of leather, suede, silk, fur, wool, or glues made from the remains of an animal. Instead, a vegan shoe is crafted solely from synthetic materials, such as rubber, faux leather (polyurethane), microfibers, and recycled plastic.

What Makes a Shoe Sustainable?

We know what makes footwear vegan, but what makes a shoe sustainable? Sustainable shoes are made from materials that typically include natural fibers from sources such as mushrooms, hemp, and pineapple, or upcycled and recycled materials, which in turn reduces their carbon footprint. At Nagaba Vegan, each shoe is handmade using simple, eco-conscious materials such as microfiber, recycled shoe soles, polyurethane, and car tires that mimic the characteristics of natural leather. The company also tests each fabric in independent laboratories to ensure they are free from agents that are harmful to health and the environment.

The sustainability of footwear is not only dependent on the fabrics being used in the shoes but also the ways in which they are sourced, as well as the employees’ work conditions. As a small family business, Nagaba Vegan takes care to ensure that all of their workers and vendors are treated as extended family and that the materials they use are sourced from companies that share the same values and responsible practices.

Long-Lasting Vegan Footwear

We often hear the term “fast fashion” being used to refer to low-quality shoes that are worn a short time and then thrown away. This is due to the fact that shoes made from low-grade materials often break down quickly and become less wearable after a short amount of time.

Nagaba Vegan takes pride in being a slow-fashion company, which means that they create long-lasting vegan footwear by using durable, weather-resistant materials. This not only gives the consumer more bang for their buck but also reduces the environmental impact of the shoes.

Meet the Nagaba Vegan Founders

Nagaba Vegan was founded by two lifelong friends, Ewa Nagaba and Ula Balcerek, who met in their early childhood and have been inseparable ever since. When Ula moved to the United States with her family, Ewa remained in Poland along with her husband to operate their shoe factory—Nagaba. The two friends remained in contact despite living in separate countries. After Ula made the transition to a vegan lifestyle, she had been searching for a pair of shoes made from leather alternatives but found it difficult to find footwear that was both high-quality and eco-friendly. Ula decided to ask Ewa to create a special vegan pair for her, and as a result, Ula received a beautiful pair of vegan sneakers. This inspired the friends to set out to create their own sustainable brand—Nagaba Vegan—so that more people would have the chance to experience these one-of-a-kind vegan shoes for themselves.

We spoke with Ula and Ewa on the inspiration behind their brand, what sets them apart from other shoe manufacturers, and their future plans for the company.

VegOut (VO): What is the inspiration behind Nagaba Vegan?

Nagaba Vegan (NV): There were two main drivers to establish Nagaba Vegan Shoes. One, innovation in combination with the vegan and ecological movement to promote a new, better lifestyle and fashion. The second factor is that we, Ewa Nagaba and Ula Balcerek, decided to join the forces and build a new brand in 2020—Nagaba Vegan.

VO: What makes Nagaba Vegan stand apart from other shoe manufacturers?

NV: We are convinced that our main differentiator is high-quality, handmade vegan certified shoes manufactured by a family business. We carefully choose and test materials for our vegan shoes. We want to ensure the shoes are built to last for much longer than any others. Our customers tell us that they really see and appreciate the quality we brought to the market. We also verify if the materials are compliant with vegan requirements, and we certify them. As a family business, we treat our customers, employees, and vendors as our extended family. We work with people and companies who share the same values and are happy cooperating together. In short, Nagaba Vegan Shoes stands for Good People Good Shoes.

VO: Which shoe is your bestseller?

NV: As a slow-fashion company, we do not intend to introduce many more new shoe models. At the same time, we would like to provide our customers with different styles of shoes, from sneakers to dress shoes as well as really heavy duty, steel toe boots. We also have the option to customize shoes for people who want to have their very own personally designed vegan shoes. As far as bestsellers, we would list the following styles: Sylvia—comfortable and stylish women’s shoes; Joaquin—a classic look appreciated by our customers, and finally, the Charley boots—steel toe boots which really ROCK.

VO: What’s next for Nagaba Vegan?

NV: We are continuing to execute our commitment to provide high-quality vegan, eco-friendly shoes. We put in effort to make the vegan lifestyle more and more popular. We also want to show and convince people that wearing vegan shoes does not mean sacrificing quality and style. We would love Nagaba Vegan Shoes to be worn by vegans and people who care for the environment. As our market presence grows, we will keep the personal, family business touch to our shoes and service.

To learn more about Nagaba Vegan or to order a pair of sustainable shoes, visit NagabaVegan.com.

Kayla Pasko

@kaylapasko

Kayla, a Midwest girl living in NYC, is a writer with a background in media sales. When she’s not scoping out trendy vegan spots, she’s usually taking a yoga class, shopping at Trader Joe’s, or catching a Packers game.

Articles by Kayla

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