Once and For All, Are Converse Vegan?


Google the phrase “are converse vegan” and you will find a debate raging. There are many different ideas flying around out there.

I decided to attempt to resolve the controversy once and for all by writing to Converse and asking.

Their response:

Thank you for your email. Unfortunately, we do not have any products that are certain to be Vegan-friendly. While the majority of our materials are animal-by-product free, the glue in our products can sometimes contain some animal by-products. So, it is not possible for us to advertise our products as being truly Vegan.

We apologize if this prevents you from being able to wear our product. We certainly hope it does not because there is nothing in the world like a pair of Converse shoes!

If we can assist you further, please let us know.

Jessica
Converse.Com
Customer Service

I found this odd however, because 1. it seemed kind of wishy washy…

“the glue can sometimes contain animal by- products” ?

If you remember my post “do shoes have animal based glues in them?”, my conclusion was “not anymore”. Was this wrong?

So I replied:

Hi Jessica,

Thanks for the response! I really appreciate it.
Do you have any idea what kind of animal by products are in the glue? I have done some internet research on the topic of animal glues and read some articles which say most glue nowadays is animal free, so I would be quite interested to know specifically what exactly animal by products in the glue means!
This would really be going above and beyond but I believe it would clear up a lot of controversy on the internet about whether converse are truly vegan friendly. If you google this topic there is a lot of contradictory information out there, so this would be MUCH appreciated!
Thank You!
I have not yet received a response yet…but I will certainly keep you updated if I do.
My conclusion on this matter:
Converse contain no leather products so in this respect they are vegan….
But if you want to get really technical…the glue may sometimes contain animal by products
The meaning of this needs further clarification, which I hope I will get from Converse.
Now you may ask why do I want to wear converse?
Well these are cool shoes…
iconic American shoes since the 1950s.
Let’s delve deep and pick up some inspiration through google images:
Actresses wear them. Check out K-Stew on the Red Carpet in them.
Musicians wear them. Check out The Strokes in them:
Former model/ TV Personalities wear them….Check out Alexa Chung:
Current models wear them. Check out Jessica Stam wearing them with socks:
Famous bloggers wear them, like Krystal Simpson:
And boys look really cool in them. So they are a great vegan shoe for boys…if you are down with the glue….
Thoughts?

Comments

  1. Rebekah says:

    Good work, detective! =)

    While their vague answer is frustrating, I’m glad they’re being TOO cautious rather than not cautious enough.. I’ve read so many stories on The PPK about customer service reps saying “Yes, our product IS vegan!” and being dead wrong.

  2. Laticia says:

    Thanks for posting this. I absolutely love converse for casual days but have stopped buying them because I cannot be certain that they are vegan. I am a little confused by some of the wording in this post… “so they are a great vegan shoe for boys…if you are down with the glue.” I think it is odd to refer to converse as “a great vegan shoe” when converse themselves have said that sometimes their glue might contain animal ingredients…that would make them NOT vegan by definition. Until we know for certain I think it is irresponsible to call converse vegan…and although I love them we should support other companies that make truly vegan shoes.

    • marthaflatley says:

      Hmm good point. The last sentence is oddly worded.
      My conclusion was that converse is trying to cover their butts because they have no IDEA what is in their glue and are too lazy to find out. From my research online it seems that the consensus is that all shoes glues these days are synthetic and not made from animal products. I think converse is doing that thing that a lot of food companies do, where they say this products MAY have been packaged in a place with PEANUTS, FISH, SOY, and any other things people are allergic to, knowing full well that they aren’t, just to prevent themselves from getting sued by people with life threatening allergies. “MAY contain SOME animal BY-PRODUCTS?”….But you do have a point, that until converse will firmly SAY that the glue is synthetic (they never responded to my email) or even make any tiny effort to accommodate vegans, they are clearly not a vegan friendly company in the slightest. And if you feel inclined, by all means boycott them and write blog posts against them and I hope they notice and change their ways. I appreciate your comment…and you bring up very good points!

  3. charlie says:

    Since shoe companies no longer use glue made from animals, would it be completely irresponsible of me to buy a pair? I agree that they are probably just too lazy to find out if the glue is vegan or not. The reason I want to buy some are because my school is strict on having plain black leather shoes, but plain all-over black converse are the only thing I can find that are close enough without being made fro leather. If I get some I’ sure my school teachers will understand, so should I risk the glue?

  4. Becca says:

    You forgot about David Tennant and Matt Smith! My two favorite actors!

    • marthaflatley says:

      HA! I love it. I have been meaning to see what all this fuss about doctor who is. But where should I start? The beginning?

      • G. says:

        Yes! The second “beginning” lol.
        The show first aired in the sixties, known as “Classic Doctor Who” or just “the classic series” (the Brits call each new season “series”…gotta love them!), which ran for about 26 yrs. (yes, THAT long), until the eighties. The show began again in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston as the new Doctor and Billie Piper as “Rose”, which was also the name of the first episode in the new series.
        PBS aired the first new season/series in 2008 (sadly, only that first season/series was aired on our local station; still, enough to fall in love with it and give me one more reason to MAJORLY <3 PBS). It then aired on SyFy (since gone). Now, you can catch new episodes/specials/reruns on BBC America OR go to Netflix and catch either all the classic series episodes (from the very, VERY beginning) or the episodes from the new series (from the "new" beginning).
        Enjoy! :-)

        • admin says:

          Thank you G. I have been wondering about this for a long time. That is so sweet of you, i appreciate your explaining Dr. WHO :DDD Thanks AGAIN!

  5. Mike says:

    Great website! I was researching shoes for my documentary. I found your article very informative. I really need to look more into the glue though. Thanks for posting this.

    • marthaflatley says:

      Thanks Mike. I love that you are making a movie about going vegan. That is so cool. Randomly, I am also 26. How is it going so far? Let me know if you need to know anything more about vegan shoes. TTYS! -Victoria

  6. […] due in the morning). I sincerely thought I had a CRACKER for you today, until I stumbled across a piece by Victoria of the Martha Flatley blog. Victoria contacted Converse directly to solve the […]

  7. Saskia says:

    Unfortunately people who state that shoes companies no longer use glues derived from animals have completely missed the mark – almost all shoes that you would assume to be vegan (so canvas shoes for instance) are put together with animal-derived shoes. Therefore I, as a vegan, would not buy any of these shoes. Why would you look differently on the animals that suffered for the sake of the glue as opposed to the animals that suffered for the whole shoe!? Saskia x

    • admin says:

      Saskia, I would be very interested to know how you know that the glues are animal derived. Everything I have read about it on the internet says otherwise–but of course…it’s the internet!!! So not necessarily to be totally trusted. I’d love to know what you know! And I agree with your basic point.

  8. Homepage says:

    … [Trackback]…

    […] Read More Infos here: mynonleatherlife.com/2011/08/30/once-and-for-all-are-converse-vegan/trackback/ […]…

  9. […] About one hundred members of the local PETA choir gathered on a Sunday afternoon at Lesley University. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised that the congregation was roughly two-thirds female. We gatherers may be more naturally sympathetic to the plight of animals (just as we are prone to hoarding cats), or maybe the guys were all hunkered down in their man caves watching the Patriots game that afternoon. Charismatic as Newkirk is – she calls to mind a feistier, British version of Diane Sawyer – her brassy, take-no-prisoners manner may put off men of the alpha hunter variety. I suspect that I was one of the few non-vegans in the audience, and I was glad that I’d thought at the last minute to change my footwear from leather boots to canvas sneakers. (I still may have crossed some line because Converse cannot say definitively that no animal-based glues are used in their shoes.) […]

  10. Thanks for the very informative post. Have you any idea about the issue of sweatshop labour/treatment of workers? Seems that Nike have, at least historically, been implicated in scandals involving abuse of workers:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nike_sweatshops

    • admin says:

      Excellent question–I don’t really know. I have read things that make me question being anti-sweatshop. Let me explain… in an excellent book, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Ny times journalists Nicolas Kristof and Cheryl Wu-Dunn there is a part about how sweatshops actually give women in poor countries a way to make a salary and if they didn’t have their sweatshop job they would be forced to turn to prostitution which is like a death sentence there because of aids, to survive. Often when well meaning westerners campaign to close down sweatshops they are sentencing women to a fate far worse than they could ever imagine. However, I need to research this topic much more and thank you for the informative link!

  11. Chris says:

    Any further progress made with converse?

  12. Chris says:

    I sent them an email today. Keep you posted.

  13. Spicy says:

    I believe the info on Converse is outdated. They use all synthetic glues now.

  14. Chris says:

    I got the same patented response from converse:

    “Hi,

    Thank you for your email. Unfortunately, we do not have any products that are certain to be Vegan-friendly. While the majority of our materials are animal-by-product free, the glue in our products can sometimes contain some animal by-products. So, it is not possible for us to advertise our products as being truly Vegan.

    We apologize if this prevents you from being able to wear our product. We certainly hope it does not because there is nothing in the world like a pair of Converse sneakers!

    Thank you for shopping with us and we do hope that you find something that you like and can enjoy!

    Thank you,

    Jessica S.
    Converse.Com
    Customer Service”

    I sent a reply to Jessica, thanking her for her quick response but noting that her answer was somewhat ambiguous. I asked if she could inquire with her glue provider or if she could give me the contact info and I would inquire. Sent her that email 3 days ago – no response yet.

    Keep ya posted!

  15. Chris says:

    Just got another answer that isn’t really any clearer:

    “Hello,
    Thank you for your reply. Unfortunately we have multiple glue providers which makes it difficult to provide the requested information. As mentioned in the email below, our materials are animal-by-product free, the glue in our products can sometimes contain some animal by-products. So, it is not possible for us to advertise our products as being truly Vegan. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

    We appreciate your continued support of the Converse brand. Please feel free to let us know if we can assist you further.

    Thank you,

    Ishmael
    Converse.Com
    Customer Service”

    I will keep trying to get a clearer answer but the info doesn’t seem to be out dated if this is the same response we keep getting.

    • admin says:

      Wow, thank you so much Chris for doing this research. I guess that is slightly less vague. Congrats on getting past the first stock response lol. But on closer reading….the second email does not seem any clearer. Basically it seems they are saying they don’t know and haven’t taken the time to figure it out, because they’ve heard glues can sometimes contain animal by product. HOW short sighted of them not to get on the side of vegans as the tides turn and times change and society becomes more vegan friendly. Since as they repeat, their shoes are vegan besides that. They need to man up and ask the glue factories. Thanks so much for looking into this further, i and everyone who finds this post (one of the most popular on the blog so others are searching as well) will find this helpful!!

  16. […] tailors possibly containing a glue with an animal byproduct. Check out the controversy on my post “Once and for all, are converse vegan.” And not all vans are vegan, but if you chat with customer service (which you can do 24/7 online) […]

  17. B says:

    These are vegan and look like converse. http://www.ethletic.com/?page_id=60

  18. JP says:

    Check out http://www.ethletic.com. They have styles that are very similar to Converse and are 100% vegan.

  19. Caris says:

    Joaquin and River Phoenix wore them, two of the most famous and strict vegans on the planet and PETA spokespersons.
    I think if we start getting really picky we ruin the point of veganism, which is not being cruel to animals, but it doesn’t mean being cruel to yourself.
    It also puts people off becoming vegan when we start being this anal. I commend vegans who really try to eliminate everything from their life, but i’ve made the switch to a full vegan diet, i use eco household products and method products and as long as i don’t buy fur, leather or any animal skins deliberately, i still think my lifestyle has value and is moving in the right direction.
    I regularly encourage my friends to eat my vegan creations with me and they show curiosity in the lifestyle, if i start ranting at them about shoe glue they’re not going to jump on board anytime soon.

    I’m in no way making light of it, of course using animals for anything is to be avoided, but a little practicality could help promote Veganism in a less extreme light…

    I’m going to get told off now, aren’t i /:

    • admin says:

      No I actually agree with you and think you have a great point. I guess everyone can make the choice for themselves about what they want to do about a glue that may or may not contain animal products…but I agree that if you can’t wear any shoes…no one is going to want to go vegan, which is the most important thing we can do for the animals. So it’s important to focus on the big picture which is refusing to buy animal products 3 times a day at mealtimes and every time we buy clothes or shoes. Thanks for the rant!!

  20. Cam says:

    I think Caris makes an excellent point. To be a serious force vegan steps need to be practical and fashionable.

    We have to be wary of the slippery slope though. Once you start allowing some animal products where do you stop?

    I think it’s commendable that Converse is being so finicky in not allowing the vegan label apply to themselves. The ‘we source glue from many different suppliers’ sounds like a bit of nonsense though. Surely converse (Nike) is large enough to determine the specific ingredients of the glue that is put into their shoe.

    Also, it’s hard to take the ‘counter culture’ iconography of converse seriously any more. It’s a fashion icon owned by Nike, worn by everyone. What would be really nice to see is some famous celebrities wearing genuine vegan shoes. But that is idle dreaming!

    Thanks for your research nonleatherlife.

  21. Iolani Rose says:

    It’s hard to become vegan when you have to go school shopping and the things that are cute or the things I like are non vegan, I got a pair of converse high tops (my favorite shoes) and feel like and idiot because I should have just ordered %100 vegan friendly shoes online. My backpack probably contains animal products to. Errr I really need to keep and open mind when shopping.

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