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On-trend since the 90s for women’s winter fashion, their combination of style and comfort means ugg boots are still a popular choice.
However, genuine uggs are made from shearling (sheep skin) making them a no-go for vegans and vegetarians. If you’re on the lookout for an ugg type boot, look no further as we’ve got you covered in our roundup review of the best vegan uggs available.
You’ll discover all you need to know in order to find and select the best pair of vegan boots like uggs, helping you to make a cruelty-free fashion statement this winter!
But before we get to the reviews of our vegan uggs, let’s check out why they are a better choice than the originals.
What’s wrong with real UGGs?
The key issue with real UGGs is, obviously, that they’re made out of animal skin and fur, in this case it comes from sheep. The UGG Australia brand is owned by an American company called Deckers Outdoor Brands.
Deckers has a statement on their website to defend their use of sheepskin in UGGs, saying that ‘unlike other animals that are raised exclusively for their pelts, sheep are not raised for their skins’.
Deckers would like you to believe that in choosing to purchase and wear an UGG product you are simply maximising the use of a by-product of the meat industry that would otherwise go to waste.
However, leather and shearling are animal products in their own right, produced to meet consumer demand. This thriving industry doesn’t exist because farmers are looking to minimise wasting any part of an animal, but because they want to maximise their own profit. (1)
Deckers’ claim that they only use sheepskin, a by-product of the meat industry and not furs coming from an animal raised only for their pelt, isn’t completely true either.
Back in 2011, the Humane Society International released findings of its investigation that found boot makers for UGG Australia were among a group of Australian manufacturers mislabelling products as wool ‘Made in Australia’, when they were really using raccoon dog and canine pelts from animals that had been skinned alive in China. (2)
So not only has the brand in the past used skins from sheep and other animals that have been raised for their pelts, they have been found to misrepresent what they’re selling to their own customers.
READ NEXT: VEGAN BELTS FOR MEN AND WOMEN
Are bearpaw boots vegan?
Despite what you might have heard on the vegan rumour-mill, unfortunately BEARPAW boots are not a vegan ugg alternative.
Following a PETA exposé into the treatment of sheep whose skins are used to make UGGs, many concerned consumers approached BEARPAW to ask where they source the materials for their ugg type boots. (3)
The company responded by issuing a statement on Facebook that claimed they shared our concern and that’s why they only use sustainable wool and sheepskin.
Many people were confused as to exactly what they meant by ‘sustainable’, so BEARPAW clarified further by saying:
“We utilize fully sustainable materials in all our products and the fur type depends on each individual product. We use real animal fur on some boots and all the materials utilized are sustainable, as they are by-products of the meat industry and there is no harm done to animals”.BEARPAW
Sadly for the animals, according to BEARPAW an animal dying doesn’t equate to ‘harm’ being done.
BEARPAW ANNOUNCE NEW V-FRIENDLY RANGE!
IMPORTANT EDIT: Whether it was through activist pressure or just moving with the times, we’re happy to say that BEARPAW are now including vegan-friendly options in their range of footwear. Woohoo!
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Which materials do vegan ugg alternatives use?
Synthetic uggs use a variety of man-made materials in order to recreate the style and comfort of the genuine articles.
To mimic the look and feel of sheepskin, manufacturers of faux fur ugg boots usually use microfiber, which is a very fine synthetic yarn. For the external surface, some brands add water-resistant coatings, but thin polyester layers can also be added to give faux-leather finishes.
Inside the boots, this microfiber is again used to create a wool-like fabric, that is often softer than wool and is great if you suffer from allergies to this natural material.
They will sometimes also use a memory foam insole to provide additional comfort and support, and the outside sole is frequently made from rubber to provide tread for use in winter conditions and better durability (a foam type material is also used on some models that are better suited for inside use).
While this all sounds great, there is another problem: microfiber is being increasingly linked with ocean pollution. While the issue is more commonly associated with washable clothing containing synthetic fibers, which obviously boots are not, you may want to think about your use of this ubiquitous alternative, too. (3)
Here’s a short video outlining the microfiber mess:
How can you be sure your faux fur uggs are vegan?
If buying online, look for product descriptions that use the words ‘faux shearling’, ‘microfiber’, and of course ‘vegan’.
Most manufacturers of vegan-friendly ugg boots know that consumers want cruelty-free alternatives to UGGs and so will go out of their way to market their products as such.
If you’re buying in a shop, check out our guide on Vegan Winter Boots for details on how to check the product labelling for symbols that detail which types of materials are used for each part of a piece of footwear.
How do faux fur uggs compare to the real thing?
In terms of style and comfort, there are plenty of vegetarian ugg boots available that rival the originals.
A pair of genuine UGGs will set you back a pretty penny, whereas the majority of vegan fur boots are a lot more affordable.
In saying that though, there are versions that are really cheap, and this is reflected in the quality of the materials and the workmanship.
So if you can afford it, it’s best to choose carefully and select a more expensive pair of vegan uggs that are well-made, especially if you’d like them to last when wearing them in outdoor winter weather conditions.
Rest assured, our review section on the best vegan uggs should help you to make a choice with confidence.
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What should you look for when buying cruelty free ugg boots?
In addition to making sure the vegan ugg boots you’re buying aren’t made from any animal products, here are some other things you should consider before making your purchase:
As mentioned above, although faux fur ugg boots don’t cost as much as the real thing, it’s best to avoid the cheapest options as the quality of materials and workmanship is lacking. It’s a false-economy to buy cheap if it’s not going to last.
A vegan alternative to uggs comes in a range of heights, from ankle boots to those that stop just below the knee.
Obviously, the higher they go, the warmer your feet and legs will be, but it’s a good idea to consider if the higher options will accommodate the type of clothes you want to wear them with – i.e. wide-legged jeans.
Of course, if you’re interested in buying a pair of cruelty free uggs, then comfort is of utmost concern.
To select the most comfortable vegan ugg alternatives, you’ll want to go for an option that provides a memory foam insole, a good amount of faux-shearling and a sturdy rubber sole.
Our reviews will let you know which is the best option.
Like a lot of boots, some of the options available in our review have been found not to run true to size.
If you’re someone that likes to wear a big, thick pair of cosy socks inside your vegan uggs, make sure you read our reviews carefully before purchasing so you know whether or not to buy a size up or down, or the size you normally take.
Vegan ugg boots are not meant for prolonged periods of walking but some makes provide more ankle and arch support than others.
If you’re looking for the maximum support possible, check out our reviews below which indicate which vegan uggs offer the most.
Are you planning on only wearing your vegan ugg alternatives around the house? Or do they need to withstand outdoor weather conditions?
If you want to use them outside, we suggest investing in the better quality vegan uggs that are designed with more robust materials.
The Reviews – Cruelty Free Ugg Boots
Now that we know why UGGs are an ugly choice for any ethically-minded shopper, let’s check out what’s on offer for you vegan fashionistas.
Willowbee Women’s Zoey Boot
First up on our list is this high-rise vegan ugg boot from Willowbee. These boots are available in five gorgeous colors and are perfect if you’re looking for a taller boot.
They’ve got memory foam insoles, which when teamed with the generous amount of faux shearling lining, make them really comfortable.Their wide opening means they’re also a good option if you have a wider ankle or a difficult arch.
Despite having a traction sole, the rubber used makes it slippery on certain surfaces. They’re definitely better suited to being worn as indoor slippers. Other buyers have said that the microfibres in the lining can rub off onto your clothing, so this is something to watch for.
The sizing on these boots runs small, so be sure to get a size up.
- Lining is cosy
- Wide toe
- Great colors
- Keeps your feet warm
- Great length that goes up just to your knee
- Not robust – better used as house boots
- Little ankle support
- White fibres from lining rub off
- Sizing runs small
- Sole is slippery on certain surfaces
DAWGS Womens Vegan Winter Boots
These cruelty free ugg alternatives from DAWGS are perfect for using around the house or quick trips outside.
Lightweight and cosy, they’re easy to slip on and off and there’s a rich range of colors – the chestnut and plum are particular favourites and give these boots a luxe feel.
DAWGS has introduced ‘new and improved’ lining to these boots, which most wearers find provide just the right amount of warmth and comfort, although some have reported that there’s not enough faux shearling for their liking.
The detail of the paws logo on the heel of these boots is a cute feature. These boots run small, so get a size bigger than you’d normally take.
- Lots of great colors to choose from
- Easy to slip on and off
- Cute design elements
- Sizing runs small
- Not enough faux shearling inside
- Uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time
Airwalk Women’s Nia Cozy Boot
If you need your vegan uggs to be able to withstand outdoor use, then these ‘Cozy Boots’ from Airwalk might suit you.
The style of the boot is a little tough to get on because of the decorative straps at the ankle and the narrow mouth. If you have a high instep then you’ll have to unfasten and redo the straps every time you take the boots on or off.
However, once you do get your feet inside, these boots are toasty warm, not too heavy and they also have great traction on the sole, which is perfect for icy, slippery winter conditions.
Although these boots are better suited to the outdoors than some of the other vegan uggs in this review, the Airwalk’s aren’t waterproof and aren’t suitable for use in snow or heavy rain.
- 4 great colors to choose from
- Robust enough to be worn outside
- Warm and comfortable
- Perfect height
- Good traction on the sole
- Difficult to get the boots on and off
- Not a good boot if you have a wider ankle or instep
Willowbee Women’s Sonia Boot
The ‘Sonia’ from Willowbee is a shorter length vegan ugg than the Zoey boot. The open mouth design of the boot means that they’re easy to get on and off, even if you have a wider calf; however, this also means that they’re not as snug and cosy as other boots with a narrower ankle.
They have a rubber traction sole, although they don’t provide much traction for ice or inside on bare floors.
While they’re definitely not waterproof when they arrive, some buyers have reported that coating the boots with waterproofing spray doesn’t effect the faux shearling exterior’s feel or color, but it does help to protect the boots and your feet. So that might be an option if you’re after a cruelty free ugg boot that can withstand a little rain.
You’ll also need to buy a size larger than you normally take for these boots.
- Fits those with wider calves and ankles
- Stylish and comfortable
- Exterior can be treated with waterproofing spray
- Nice double toggle detailing
- Need to buy a size up
- Not a lot of traction on the sole
DAWGS Women’s 13 Inch Vegan Winter Boots
Like the look of the original BEARPAW or UGG boots? Then these vegan fur boots might be just what you’re after. They’re available in six stylish colors, all of which go great with jeans, but the navy is our favourite.
These boots come up to about mid-calf and the opening is wide enough so that you can easily slide skinny jeans into them. Although your friends might be fooled into thinking these are a more well known, non-vegan branded pair of boots due to their classic style, there are a few downsides.
The sole is too soft and thin and there’s not much comfort provided by the cushioned insole inside these boots. You’ll also need to order TWO sizes up to get a good fit and the microfibre shearling on the inside of the boots sheds and sticks to your clothes.
- Interior fur is softer than genuine BEARPAW boots
- Color options all go great with jeans
- Need to buy two sizes up
- Sole is quite thin
- No arch or ankle support
- The interior material rubs off onto your socks and leggings
BEARPAW Elle Short Vegan Boot
So, BEARPAW have finally got the message and created a few V-friendly products to add to their huge range of footwear. This is great news, but how do they stack up?
Pretty well, actually!
The BEARPAW vegan UGG alternatives come in two lengths, long (click here to check the longer version out) and short, and it’s the short ones that we have here. Measuring 8 inches high, these faux suede boots are the perfect “throw-on” go-to to have in your closet. They also come in three colors – Hickory (pictured), Black, and Beet – so you can match them with anything.
The wide tops and broad toe make them both easy to put on and oh-so comfortable. As one would expect from BEARPAW, they are also built to last and coated with NeverWet® to ensure that mud, muck, and water are all repelled.
That’s the theory, anyway. Some buyers have been less than impressed with the quality of these boots, although it’s safe to say that they are in the minority, as most have found BEARPAW’s Elle Vegan boots to have the ideal mix of comfort and sturdiness.
We like them a lot, but make sure you buy the correct size as they will rub if you don’t.
- Well priced
- Three colors to choose from
- Really warm and cosy
- Replicate the original BEARPAW’s very well…without the cruelty
- The NeverWet® technology works brilliantly
- Sole feels a little too spongy
- Some reports of non-vegan items being shipped, so double-check before you wear
Willowbee Women’s Alyssa Boot
The third and final offering from Willowbee in our reviews; you’ll love the cute bow detailing down the back of these stylish vegan ugg boots.
Not only does this detail make a gorgeous fashion statement, it’s also really practical as it provides a larger opening for the boots, making it easier to get your feet in and out of them.
You can change up the look of your cruelty-free uggs by turning down the tops and exposing the fleece lining and the larger boot opening also means that you can wear these boots with regular tapered jeans – skinny jeans are not required!
Although these boots look so good you’ll want to wear them out and about, they wouldn’t be suitable for really cold weather and some buyers have said that the true color of the outside faux leather is a lot darker than it looks in the pictures online.
The good news is that the faux shearling liner inside the boots doesn’t compact as much as some of the other boots in our reviews, meaning they’ll stay comfortable and cosy for longer.
Go one size up to get your perfect fit.
- Interior shearling doesn’t compact too much with wear
- Lovely bow detailing down the back
- Design of these boots means you can turn down the tops to expose the inner shearling
- Need to buy a size up
- Color of boots is different in real life to what you see online
PAWJ California Short Vegan Fur Lined Boot
And last but not least, we have the short vegan fur lined boots from PAWJ California. These look exactly like BEARPAW boots minus the use of “sustainable” animal skins.
The quality of materials and workmanship is apparent with these vegan uggs: they run true to size and have a reinforced heel, providing durability and added comfort.
You can even use a water and stain protective spray on these boots without damaging the microfibre shearling exterior. There’s an eco-friendly brand called Nano that is recommended by other vegan ugg boot wearers.
The only problem that we can find with the PAWJ California boots is that when you first receive them they do have a chemical smell to them, but this is due in part to them being made out of synthetic materials. Even the boots made from “natural” animal skins will still have been heavily treated with chemicals in order to tan the hides.
- Runs true to size
- Reinforced heel
- You can use a water and stain protective spray on them
- A great cruelty-free imitation of UGGs or BEARPAWS
- Chemical smell when you first receive the new boots
The Best Vegan Uggs – Our pick
While there are a few vegan ugg alternatives on this list that caught my fancy, my top pick from the bunch is the PAWJ California Short Vegan Fur Lined Boot.
This boot is the best if you’re looking for an alternative to ugg boots that actually looks like an UGG boot and also has design features – like a reinforced heel – that mean it will last. I think the fact that it’s also one of the only boots on our list that runs true to size, means that the quality of the workmanship provides great value too.
A close runner up to the PAWJ California boot, is the Airwalk Nia Women’s Cozy Boot. Although not a classic ugg-style, I love the look of these boots and the air of quality they have about them, all at an affordable price.
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So, if you love animals, don’t buy UGGly this winter! Keep your feet cosy, warm and stylish with a gorgeous pair of vegan ugg boots – the animals and your feet will thank you for it!
About The Author:
Emma is a blogger, life-coach and qualified PR professional and journalist, who also happens to be a passionate vegan, animal and nature lover.
She lives in a small village in France with her husband, daughter and their rescue animals at the Barefoot Vegan Farm and Animal Sanctuary. As a writer, Emma’s work has been featured in other popular well-being and spiritual websites such as Elephant Journal, IVORY magazine, and she’s part of the Huffington Post’s team of regular bloggers. Her writing was also included in the Tiny Buddha book 365 Love Challenges from Tiny Buddha, released in 2015 by HarperCollins.
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- Emma Håkansson | Is Leather a By-Product of the Meat Industry? | https://goodonyou.eco/is-leather-a-by-product-of-the-meat-industry/
- Animals Australia | IN THE NEWS: Australian fur trade using cruel raccoon dog from China in clothes and ugg boots | https://www.animalsaustralia.org/media/in_the_news.php?article=3016
- PETA | Take a Stand Against UGG in These Cute Cruelty-Free Boots | https://www.peta.org/living/personal-care-fashion/ugg-boots/
- David Bedford | What Is Microfiber Made Of And How Easy Is It To Work With? | https://yousewandsew.com/microfiber/