Here’s an unsponsored, unbiased review of CLAE’s Bradley Vegan
Vegan footwear has become more popular in recent years, but it’s also become more controversial.
Understandably, most critical arguments against vegan footwear come from the leather community. Leather lovers claim that vegan options are poorer quality and don’t last as long. They also argue that vegan shoes aren’t as sustainable as they’re made out to be.
But are these arguments actually true?
It’s true that vegan footwear has historically not performed as well as leather footwear, but that’s changed in recent years.
Even as recently as the mid-2010s, most vegan footwear was made from plastic-based materials that weren’t hard-wearing. Since then, however, companies have put tons of R&D hours into figuring out how to make a better vegan shoe.
In terms of sustainability, that’s changing as well. While most vegan footwear still uses at least some plastic by necessity, more brands are opting for recycled plastics. Moreover, technological advances in alternative leathers are making way for plant-based options like pineapple leather and apple skin leather.
Of course, that all sounds great on paper, but it has to hold water in real life. That’s why I’m taking a retrospective look at my experience with CLAE’s Bradley Vegan
CLAE: The Brand
CLAE was founded in 2001 in Los Angeles by footwear designer Sung Choi. At the time, most shoes were either extremely casual
Choi wanted to create footwear that was as comfortable as
Over the years, CLAE has become notable for its constant shifting toward more sustainable production methods. The brand was the first to use cactus leather for footwear, and it also offers apple leather shoes. CLAE also prioritizes other sustainable materials like GOTS-certified organic cotton and hemp.
CLAE Bradley Vegan Review
I bought my pair of Bradley Vegans in July 2020. As far as I can tell, they’re materially the same as the current Bradley Vegans. The only differences are the olive heel tabs and off-white soles on my pair.
CLAE Bradley Sizing
My shoe size is typically a 10.5, but I sometimes opt for a 10 or 11 (depending on the shoe).
The older Bradley Vegans ran a bit longer than normal, so CLAE recommended going a half-size down.
I took the advice and ordered a pair in size 10, but I found them to be too tight. I exchanged for a pair in 10.5, and the fit was spot on.
I have a few CLAE shoes now, and I’ve found they tend to run either small or true to size. If you’re between sizes, I’d probably recommend sizing up for most shoes.
CLAE Bradley Vegan Construction & Quality
The Bradley Vegan features vegan leather tops, cotton lining, EVA insoles, and neoprene heel accents.
Simply put, these shoes have held up incredibly well over the years. They quickly became my go-to shoes for everything — and, as you can tell from the photos, they’re well-loved.
They didn’t take long to break in, but they’ve gotten more comfortable with wear. If anything, they’re at the point of being a little loose, but I typically prefer a looser sneaker.
Considering how much I’ve worn them, my Bradley Vegans show impressively little wear. And I’ve worn these across seasons, too, so they’ve seen their fair share of water, mud, and snow.
That wear does show in the form of dirt and creasing, both of which add serious character to the shoe. I’m a fan of the dirty white sneaker look — in casual contexts, that is — and these shoes take dirt well. They look aged but not old.
If you’re coming from leather shoes, you might be put off by the way the Bradley Vegans crease. To my eye, you can’t tell these are vegan leather shoes unless you look up close. However, the creasing does give it away a bit, and it doesn’t look as nice. (I don’t mind the creasing at all but to each their own.)
Overall, I’m impressed with how well the Bradley Vegans have performed after almost four years of consistent wear. They’re comfortable and durable, and they do a surprisingly good job of keeping water out.
CLAE Bradley Vegan Style
The Bradley is essentially a dressier take on the tennis shoe. That inspiration is obvious, but in my opinion, the Bradley is more versatile than a traditional court shoe.
For context, I usually gravitate toward footwear that resembles dress shoes more than athletic
The more I wore the Bradleys, the more I realized that their sportier details are quite subtle in context. When you look at the Bradleys on their own, you can see the athletic DNA. But when you pair them with a workwear-inspired outfit, the sportiness becomes much less obvious.
That said, the Bradleys definitely look at home in sporty contexts. They’re great for athleisure and collegiate-style outfits.
What I Didn’t Like
There’s honestly not much that I don’t like about the Bradley Vegans. The one thing that does stand out to me is the choice of material.
From a sustainability standpoint, I don’t love that there’s so much plastic in these shoes. However, I bought them at a time when vegan footwear options were more limited. Moreover, I haven’t had to replace them, and I don’t expect I’ll need to anytime soon.
That said, I am interested in exploring CLAE’s cactus and apple leather shoes. Whenever I need to replace my current pair, I’ll definitely go for one of those leathers.
Conclusion: I Love These Vegan Shoes
I’m thrilled with my pair of Bradley Vegans, and I’ll be wearing these for years to come.
If you’re interested in exploring vegan footwear and enjoy classic
Questions? Comments? Leave them below!