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Veg-Tan Sneakers – Five Plus One

Five Plus One is our weekly series of buyer’s guides. We pick a specific category and dig up five great options along with one that’s a little outside the norm.


There are a lot of interesting leathers out there, but it’s hard not to appreciate good-ol’ veg-tan. It might not be particularly water resistant or supple, but its natural, undyed state just ages so well. There are some that find natural veg-tan to be unattractive before it gains a patina, but that’s really the nature of the beast.

Many of us enjoy classic sneakers, but once you’ve acquired basic white and black sneakers it’s hard to know what direction to go next, which is why many of us pick up some veg sneakers.

1) Hender Scheme: MIP-10

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Hender Scheme is perhaps the most well known producer of vegetable tanned sneakers, but for many the price is hard to swallow. That said, if you are willing to drop just shy of a thousand dollars, they do have the widest selection of veg-tanned sneakers out there. This pair is a homage to Nike Air Jordan’s, which might make some uncomfortable. However, you have to consider the fact that Hender Scheme is offering sneakers of a much higher quality than Nike, so it isn’t as if they are appealing to the same consumers necessarily.

Available for $1165 from End Clothing.

2) Victory Sportswear: Trail Runner

Victory-Sportswear-Trail-Runner--All-Natural-Veg-Tan-Leather-&-Suede-SideWe recently featured the Victory Sportswear Trail Runner, and with good reason. It has what so many other high-end sneakers are missing: functional soles. Sure it’s nice to have a well shaped profile, but a leather sole just isn’t going to cut it on a pair of sneakers. And so many other brands use custom-shaped soles that just aren’t replaceable, which is particularly egregious on a pair of veg-tan sneakers that are purchased for their ability to age beautifully.

Available for $400CAD from North American Quality Purveyors.

3) Feit: Hand Sewn High

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Feit is known for their footwear that toes the line between sneakers, boots, and shoes. While these sneakers might not be traditional in some peoples’ eyes, their experimentation should be rewarded. In a world where people dislike the concept of “copying” other company’s produces, this innovation is necessary. Whether or not you like Feits’ designs is your own subjective choice, but at least they are objectively trying to do something unique.

Available for $580 from Feit.

4) Epaulet: Unfinished Horsehide GAT

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Epaulet has started offering their own line of sneakers with their veg-tan German Army Trainer (GAT) being some of the most popular. For those of you unfamiliar with GAT’s, they have a very interesting history – truth be told, no one is quite sure where the initial design came from, but it was quickly adopted as a German and Austria military sneaker. To me, veg-tanned GAT’s are the perfect combination of classic designs with modern modifications, and Epaulet’s version is a very reasonable way to pick up this style. Sadly, these were only available as part of a 500-unit run, but here’s to hoping Epaulet will bring them back one day.

Originally available for $255 from Epaulet, now only available on the secondary market.

5) Adidas: Stan Smith

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Stan Smith’s are classics. Most everyone who is into sneakers has a pair, but for those who don’t these veg-tans would make a great pickup. A lot of people see this style as a bit boring, but it’s meant to be understated. That’s what makes veg-tan so great – it can be low key if you don’t draw attention to it, or it can be the centerpiece of an outfit and make everyone jealous. It’s up to you.

Available for $150 from Adidas.

Plus One – Buscemi: 100mm

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These sneakers from Buscemi are a bit out there, but somehow I find these ugly-ducklings to be incredibly attractive. Well, except for the blue-steel lock, which I would remove seconds after picking these up. Be that as it may, the general shape of these sneakers and the oversize pull-loop are somehow strangely endearing. For anyone looking at the top of the sneaker price-range who doesn’t want Hender-Schemes, these are a great option.

Available for $970 from Forward.