Vegan sneakers with a vintage tint

In 2021, boot brands – namely Blundstone and Clarks – proved that designers need not sacrifice style and quality for durability. Footwear made from vegan materials should no longer be considered lesser alternatives to those made from traditional leathers. Truth be told, most biomaterials — leathers made from mushrooms, corn, or cacti, for example — are indistinguishable from the real thing. They wear, feel and look alike. But, it seemed, at least for a while, as brands scrambled to prove vegan versions of their titular products worthwhile, there weren’t a ton of exciting vegan shoes available. Spanish shoe brand Saye, which has just transitioned from a semi-vegan brand to an entirely animal-free brand, is working to change that.

The brand, first called Wado, launched on Kickstarter in 2017. They were touting a new type of trainer made of leather but without chrome: “The leather industry poses a serious threat to the health of those working in tanneries… This is mainly due to chrome, one of the most harmful chemicals in existence, not only for the shoemaker’s health but also for the environment”, launch page read. “In an exercise in innovation and sustainability, we have succeeded in developing chrome-free leathers. We use them on the outside and inside of our shoes. This way, your feet are in contact with a healthier material. “

Saye

saye cactus sneakers

Saye

They promised that the shoes would be made more sustainably with better materials. But they still used leather, but without the aforementioned toxic material. Now, since November 2021, Saye is 100% vegan. (You’ll find that the last remaining leather versions are on sale at Madewell and Saye’s own site.) In 2017, biomaterials were in short supply, the brand admits. That’s why they first glued with leather. Improving the raw materials they had access to, they believed, was the best way forward. And that was until they could bring their own materials to market.

Now the Model ’89 (also called M89), Saye’s signature sneaker, which comes in the form of a high– Where low, can be made from biodegradable materials Napa Vegan Corn, a PETA-approved material made from 29% corn waste and 71% bio-based polyurethane, Napa Vegan Cactus Where Mango Fruitleather depending on the version you order. Each style features 100% bamboo lining, recycled polyurethane insoles, and outsoles made from a blend of natural (30%) and synthetic (70%) rubbers. Finally, although purely decorative, all editions come with what SAYE calls La Fuga, their equivalent of Nike’s swoosh or adidas’ three stripes.

man stretching wearing garnet saye high top sneakers

Saye

The Fuga is most apparent on the upper part of the ’89 Hi model, our favorite model the most. It gives the sneaker a unique, undoubtedly retro look. That being said, while we like what the logo lends to the silhouette, we’re less thrilled with the overt branding visible on both the heel tab and tongue – plus the outsole, if you count the nameplate. “Model ’89”. Saye has never been shy about updating and upgrading his existing styles, so maybe pairs without big text blocks could be next.

We’re not here to complain about that, though. Text blocks are minor problems; a matter of personal preference, if you will. Almost every brand puts some text or a logo or two on their sneakers. Why should Saye be any different? In every other sense, however, they are. The sneakers are comfortable, very cool and at least material innovations. Saye proves that while durability is a moving target, there’s always room for improvement.

Shop SAYE

Model ’89 Hi

Modelo ’89 Vegan Hi

SAYED
sayebrand.com

$188.00

Modelo ’89 Vegan Hi

SAYED
sayebrand.com

$188.00

Modelo ’89 Vegan Hi

SAYED
sayebrand.com

$188.00

Modelo ’89 Vegan Hi

SAYED
sayebrand.com

$188.00

Model ’89 Low

Model ’89 Vegan

SAYED
sayebrand.com

$176.00

Model ’89 Vegan

SAYED
sayebrand.com

$176.00

Model ’89 Vegan

SAYED
sayebrand.com

$176.00

Modelo ’89 Vegan Cactus

SAYED
sayebrand.com

$192.00

Vegan Mango Modelo ’89

SAYED
sayebrand.com

$200.00

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