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Analysts: Footwear Trails Only Beauty as Leading Vegan Category

Veganism’s domination of the footwear category continues apace, a recent retail report from Edited revealed.

The numbers don’t lie. Accounting for 67 percent of the total assortment in the United Kingdom and 58 percent in the United States, footwear is the top-stocked category described as “vegan” following beauty, the data analytics firm said.

With retailers such as Banana Republic, Farfetch, Lulus and Nordstrom all making increased investments in leather-free footwear, spring/summer 2019 arrivals are up 13 percent and 20.5 percent in the United Kingdom and United States year on year respectively.

There have been bigger moves, too: Topshop seized on the zeitgeist in April when it dropped a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals-approved range of sandals and mules. A month later, Canada’s Call It Spring announced it was becoming“fully vegan” as part of its brand promise to “create a better tomorrow, together.”

Vegan products skew primarily toward the fairer sex, with cruelty-free shoes for women comprising more than 81 percent of the market share in both regions, Edited found.

Vans, with its hundreds of canvas styles, is currently the top-stocked retailer of vegan kicks in the United Kingdom. It’s closely tailed by Marks & Spencer, where vegan women’s shoes—nearly 70 percent of which are sandals—make up a fifth of available footwear. Across the pond, Zappos and Lulus offer the biggest vegan-shoe assortments.

Vegan footwear is a growing market as retailers introduce more animal-friendly ranges and seek alternatives to leather and suede,” Katharine Carter, a retail analyst at Edited, told Sourcing Journal in an email. “The footwear category makes up over half of all vegan products currently retailing, highlighting its importance as demand for cruelty-free products continues to grow.”

Edited, in a post about “Veganuary” in January, credited the uptick in animal-friendly shoes to an increasing interest in herbivorous diets. Both the Economist and the Guardian have hailed 2019 the year of the vegan, citing the record numbers of people switching from meat-heavy meals to plant-based ones.