This post is in collaboration with Loyal Footwear.
If you follow me on Instagram, you have seen these boots popping up here and there over the last couple of months – and I am so excited to finally share more about them!
I am always looking for chic cruelty-free shoes, and they are, admittedly, pretty hard to find. I was fortunate enough to meet the team at Loyal Footwear, who is committed to making sustainably-made, vegan shoes that are actually stylish. They were kind enough to let me take an early sample of their Kiirstin boot for a spin over the last few months.
About Loyal Footwear
Loyal Footwear is a vegan footwear collection made in Hoboken, New Jersey. They are women-owned and made, and, for me, they’re also local! Their shoes are made of microfiber vegan leather (the most advanced vegan leather on the market, made of a combination of microfiber and polyurethane), coated plant-based textiles (Piñatex®, commonly known as pineapple leather) and recycled soling materials (wherever possible).
Before I tell you more about my experience with Loyal, I want to address the plastic elephant in the room. A lot of people don’t love vegan footwear that uses polyurethane.
I think it is important to acknowledge that very few products tick the boxes of being ethical and sustainable in every way. Leather is not devoid of environmental problems, despite being a natural material. The majority of leather in the market is chromium-tanned, while vegetable-tanned leather uses tremendous amounts of water. Additionally, leather is not a byproduct, but a co-product, of the meat industry – contributing to animal exploitation. For these reasons, I personally choose vegan or, on occasion, secondhand leather.
Additionally, animal leather has a high score on the Higg Index – the measure of apparel or footwear raw material environmental impact, based on the combination of these four categories:
- Global Warming (emissions)
- Eutrophication (water pollution)
- Water Scarcity (water consumption)
- Abiotic Resource depletion (fossil fuels)
Polyurethane alternatives to leather have a lower raw material impact, even more so if the durability and the full life cycle of a complete shoe is accounted for. This is mostly due to the many advancements in vegan leathers that have happened in recent years.
I think most people envision vegan leather as just, well, plasticky. And I did too, for a long time. If you haven’t experienced vegan leather lately, I would encourage you to look into the newer products on the market, as you will likely be pleasantly surprised by how the quality and handfeel has advanced.
It’s also worth noting that plastic-based leathers aren’t the end game. Loyal told me they would like to move more toward plant-based leathers, but many of them are still in the early stages of development or aren’t as easily accessible.
Beyond their commitment to creating animal-free shoes, I am a fan of Loyal because of the aesthetics they offer – styles that are soft, comfortable and modern. Some of my favorite Loyal styles, besides these boots, are their mules, sneakers (I love these!) and block heels.
Loyal Footwear Kiirstin Boot Review
I would walk 500 miles…
These boots have a memory foam footbed, are incredibly comfortable and run true to size – I wear them everywhere! Notably, I just wore them to my husband’s 30th birthday party, which was an all-day brewery tour, plus dinner, plus entertaining friends and family at our house. They were perfect for all the running around I had to do!
The pull tab on the back is convenient for getting them on easily, and the almond toe makes them feel fresher than your typical round-toe ankle boot. I want to note that the elastic panels around the ankle are a cream color on my boot, but these are an earlier sample – the final version has elastic to match the body of the boot.
The only thing I don’t love about this boot is that the heel runs a bit wide, and the elastic band can sometimes cause the boot to collapse in to that space when I flex my foot a certain way (you can get the idea from the photos below). This has no impact on their comfort, but my pair does now have a lot of creasing in that location as a result.
It was fun to be able to give Loyal my fit feedback, because it turns out they are creating a new heel stiffener pattern so there is more structure to that part of the boot. I really admire their craftsmanship and attention to detail.
I have been getting so many compliments since I started wearing these boots. First of all, I’ve received a few Instagram comments asking what brand they are (I was trying to keep them low-key until I wrote this post!), and secondly, my friends and colleagues have said how much they like them.
The first time I wore them to the office, one of my coworkers told me she loved them, and asked if they were new. I said yes, and then she asked if I was no longer vegan/plant-based. As in, she could not believe these boots weren’t leather when she saw them on! I swear! I really meant what I said earlier about how the quality of vegan leather has advanced tremendously in recent years.
During our warmer fall days I had fun styling them with distressed shorts, and now that it is getting cooler out they look great with denim or wide-leg pants. All in all, just the perfect classic ankle boot in a gorgeous, warm cognac.
Do you own any vegan footwear, or are you thinking of adding some to your wardrobe?