Jun 19, 2023
by Karl Smith
10 Vegan, Sustainable and Planet-Friendlier Slides to Set You Up For Summer
by Karl Smith
Jun 19, 2023

When it comes to footwear, slides can rank among the most controversial. Hatred of this humble staple usually boils down to two things: an aversion to the near-inevitable plastic construction or an aversion to seeing other peoples’ toes.

Now, when it comes to those in column B, we really can’t help with that – those are your own foot-digit demons and yours alone. For those in column A, though – well – that’s a different story.

While a whole lot of slides (and slide-type shoes) are very much still petrochemical-derived when they’re not made from
animal-based materials – even, or perhaps especially, those from brands with the means and notoriety to try other solutions – it’s no longer the only way.

Or, at the very least, it needn’t make up the bulk of a shoe where the main characteristic is having barely any bulk at all.

With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of slides and sandals for the summer season, selected for their sustainability credentials, lightweight construction and/or their looks. (Because, yes, it’s what’s on the inside that counts, but what’s on the outside is right there for everyone to see.)

From Nike to Allbirds, ASICS and adidas to SUICOKE and PANGAIA – 3D-printed footwear to bamboo leather and sugarcane waste materials – here’s what we’re recommending for 2023.

adidas Adicane Slides
RRP: $50 USD

As you might guess from the name, these slides are made, in part, from sugarcane wastage – a material with low environmental impact and a process that means a lower volume of waste created.

Created with a “minimum of 50% natural and renewable materials,” the Adicane slides go further than a lot of their peers in terms of progressive materials.

Coming in an array of neutral tones, the Adicane exudes the kind of breezy quality that’s usually reserved for a fresh linen shirt.

Nike Calm Slides
RRP: £44.95 GBP

Labelled as being made with “Sustainable Materials” over on the official Nike website, the Swoosh’s thick-soled Calm slides have the peculiar distinction of being able to back that claim up. (Which isn’t, by the way, a comment on Nike so much as in the industry as a whole.)

Fabricated “utilising recycled materials from post-consumer and/or post-manufactured waste,” though it’s a little murky on where and how much, the Calm reuses “existing plastics, yarns and textiles, significantly [reducing Nike’s] emissions.”

Aesthetically, the aforementioned wedge give these slides a little extra something, too, loosely reminiscent of Yohji Yamamoto’s platform sandals for Y-3.

RRP: €130 / €150 EUR

While certainly less well known than other names on this list, Amsterdam-based YUME YUME has made visually-arresting and planet-friendlier footwear design its sole mission since 2018.

Characterized visually by its ultra-modern-meets-tradition sense of style – a weird kind of overinflated, East-meets-West geometry – YUME YUME’s “TYRE” slide and “SUKI” sandal are both more than worthy of a mention.

Cushioned for comfort and made, in part, from a mix of recycled materials, super-plants like fast-growing bamboo, and something called “Italian H20 leather” – which the brand describes as derived from “solvent-free water-born raw materials” – these are stand-out options if you’re looking to add something a little less well-trodden for your wardrobe.

RRP: $80 USD

Released in 2022, the ActiBreeze marks more-or-less the first time that a major sportswear brand put its weight behind 3D-printing over moulding or laser cutting.

As a result, the shoe – which is billed as a post-run recovery piece of techwear – is more detailed, lighter weight, and (as its name best explains) is kind of unbeatable for airflow.

It’s worth mentioning that these are currently sold out – but they’ve not yet been gone so long it doesn’t seem like they’ll be coming back. Especially with 3D-printing’s growing popularity.

RRP: $220 USD

As far as slides and sandals are concerned, SUICOKE is the closest thing that the open-air footwear realm has to royalty.

Where styles like the cult Japanese brand’s chunky “Ulrich” sandal have cemented it a position for statement silhouettes, however, the Moto-VPO makes for a much more low-key option.

Instead of thick rubber, the streamlined upper is crafted from a light, natural canvas fabric – making for a slide that’s easier to wear for a full day without getting calf pain or trench foot.

Allbirds Sugar Sliders
RRP: $50 USD

Another offering in the popular progressive choice of sugarcane-based materials, we’d be lying if we said that Allbirds’ make the most aesthetically riveting footwear on the market. We’d also be lying if we said three slides buck that trend – they absolutely do not.

However, one truth that can’t be avoided is that the x-based brand knows how to put sustainability first.

Crafted from SweetFoam®, Allbirds’ “proprietary material made from sugarcane” and from “the world’s first carbon negative green EVA,” these may look basic – but they deliver on their other promises.

Nike Asuna 2 Next Nature Slides
RRP: $55 USD

The Swoosh’s Next Nature range is essentially the standard-bearer for its Move to Zero philosophy. That this carbon-transitional offshoot should also produce transitional footwear, then, just makes a certain kind of sense.

The Asuna 2 Next Nature is that sustainably-inclined shapeshifter: a nature-to-city, day-to-night slide that’s made with comfort, stability, and endurance in mind, and at least 20% recycled materials by weight.

PANGAIA x Zellerfeld Absolute Sneaker
RRP: $250 USD

Are these “technically” what you’d call a “slide”? Honestly, no. But that doesn’t mean they don’t fit the bill in other ways.

Much like the ASICS 3D-printed model, the PANGAIA-designed and Zellerfeld-printed “Absolute” sneaker is a lightweight option with the added bonus of being made to order.

How much more summer-ready can you feasibly get than a shoe that’s made to be breathable, washable, odor-resistant and which fits like a glove for feet?

And, of course, it’s 100% recyclable.

adidas Adifom Stan Smith Mule
RRP: $70 USD

Thus far, we’ve put a lot of stock in words like “light,” or “airy,” or “breezy” – words that give a sense of weightlessness. But, the truth is, sometimes there’s just no substitute for clomping around the world in a massive pair of shoes.

And, it’s fair to say, the converted Stan Smith mule – which comes in equally brazen colorways – satisfies that urge.

Made from a “minimum of 50% natural and renewable materials,” it also goes some way toward satisfying other desires too – like helping ti make sure there’s still a planet left to stomp.

Balena BioCir Slides

Admittedly this is more of a note for your future self than an option for summer 2023, but Balena’s BioCir slides are something you’ll want reminding about.

Having sold out the first run, these aesthetically-minimal slides are more noteworthy for their next-gen material innovation than their made-in-Milan style.

Designed to decompose – but only when you want them to – the BioCir material itself is 60% bio-based content, promising a harmless return to the Earth.

All of which means that, even if they’re not exactly statement shoes, there won’t be any other kind of lasting impact either.