As per a report by Future Market Insights (FMI), the global vegan footwear market is anticipated to expand at a 7.3% CAGR from 2023 to 2033, compared to a 5.9% from 2018 to 2022…

Sustainable, cruelty-free and vegan footwear brand PAIO was founded in 2015 by Shweta Nimkar with one simple agenda – to create conscious footwear with strong design elements inspired by everything around us, while making sure each product is comfortable.

A completely made in India brand, using locally sourced materials, PAIO’s ethos is based on the idea that fashion need not come at the cost of a precious life. In keeping with this philosophy, craftsmen at PAIO work with vegan leathers alongwith a variety of materials like faux-leather, hemp, cotton, jute, faux-silks – all sustainably sourced, cruelty-free, raw and comfortable.

Every product is carefully handcrafted by traditional karigars (craftsmen) who have inherited and perfected their craft for generations in an effort to support the broader community and keep the craft alive.

“Our embroidery is done through local craftsmen in the city who hail from various parts of the country. This is an art that is passed down through generations in their family which is now a dying art as the new generation is no longer choosing the same path,” explains PAIO Founder, Shweta Nimkar.

“I have personally scouted and found most of the vendors we work with. We do not have our own manufacturing unit but choose to work with multiple contract manufacturers across the country. We have identified their individualistic skill-set and get different types of shoes manufactured by different vendors. We work mainly with vendors in Mumbai and Agra,” she adds.

The D2C brand which retails through online channels only for now, is not a technology- dependent company as much as a keeping-up-with-trends company. They incorporate trends with innovative designs and churn out fresh, interesting products, but they do keep up with technology as well. Take for example 3D embroidery. This adds depth and texture to traditional embroidery techniques. This technique allows for more intricate and detailed designs, which can be especially striking when used on footwear and accessories.

Reducing Post-Consumption Waste

At PAIO, the management is abundantly aware of the amount of post-consumption footwear that reaches landfills and work hard towards creating a solution for the same. They maintain that they always aim to be one step closer to sustainability by ethically sourcing raw materials and implementing an eco-friendly production process – thus vegan footwear.

As the name suggests, vegan footwear is made without any animal-derived materials, such as leather, wool, suede, or silk. Instead, it is made from bio-based materials like corn, bamboo or apple or synthetic materials like rubber, canvas, microfiber, and recycled plastics. Sourcing these materials is tricky though, but Nimkar’s wanderlust takes her all over the country and this, coupled with her knack of finding raw material in unique places, results in shoes made from unusual, biodegradeable substances.

“We source locally, although most of the fabrics used in our shoes are sourced during my personal trips across India. Take for example our Ecoture collection. This has been crafted using material that has been made with a unique process of coconut water fermentation. This has a lower environmental impact as compared to leather – knowledge I acquired during my travels across the country in search of sustainable raw material,” she states.

The coconut material is biodegradable and compostable, the process of making it is equally sustainable, organic and eco-friendly with extracts being acquired from agricultural waste. The result – comfortable, durable shoes which are long lasting and don’t need frequent replacements and disposal

“No footwear is 100% biodegradable, however, by using vegan leathers and plant based leathers, we aim to take steps that further us to a more sustainable product which has a lower environmental impact as opposed to genuine leather,” Nimkar says.

Consumption Trends

As per a report by Future Market Insights (FMI), the global vegan footwear market is anticipated to expand at a 7.3% CAGR from 2023 to 2033, compared to a 5.9% from 2018 to 2022 due to increasing preference and growing consciousness among consumers about eco-friendly products, which in turn has fueled the demand for cruelty-free footwear.

As per Cognitive Market Research’s latest published report, the Global Vegan Footwear market size was US $40.9 billion in 2022.

FMI anticipates that the market could reach US $60.6 billion in the next decade, by 2033. Germany and the US have recorded the most growth in the vegan footwear sector in the last decade, with Germany’s growth projected to reach US $26.14 billion by 2030 and USA recording a market value of US $10.26 billion in 2021.

India too has shown favourable growth vis-à-vis demand for vegan products, especially products made from mushroom leather.


CAGR (2023 – 2033) 7.3%
Market Value by 2033 US $60.6 billion
Growth Factors Increasing demand for sustainable products

Growing vegan population worldwide

Growing animal rights consciousness

Opportunities Aiding Growth Technological advancements

Growing research & development activities


As per Cognitive Market Research, increasing cases of cruelty with animals and rising awareness regarding animal rights is the major factor that drives the growth of the global vegan footwear market. In addition, increasing government initiatives for reducing plastic waste and carbon footprint are anticipated to boost the demand for the global market.

Aside from this, increasing investments in R&D activities and rapid advancements in production techniques are expected to provide opportunities for the global market. Vegan shoes are also often more environmentally friendly than their leather counterparts. Since vegan shoes are usually made from sustainable materials, such as organic cotton or recycled plastic, or plant-based materials, they have a lower carbon footprint and require less energy and water to produce.

Also, awareness of in the use of fair trade and ethical labour practices, have also forwarded the cause of vegan footwear.

“Apart from being animal friendly, consumers are increasingly concerned with the working conditions of those who produce their products and are looking for brands that prioritize fair labour practices. The vegan footwear market is growing as consumers become more aware of the environmental and ethical impacts of traditional leather products and seek out sustainable alternatives,” explains Shinde.

She does feel however, that as a category, vegan footwear needs to be marketed more. The Cognitive Market Research report agrees with this, stating that the lack of awareness regarding vegan footwear, and the high cost of vegan footwear may hamper the growth of the global market.

“Building awareness is one of the main reasons that we have a varied target audience – which has a wide range of 15 to 55 years. This TG loves the fact that PAIO is so versatile, along with being pocket friendly, with products priced between Rs 1000 – Rs 5000 a pair,” explains PAIO Marketing Manager, Rutuja Shinde.

Managing Their Carbon Footprint

To reduce their carbon footprint and wastage, PAIO has also collaborated with 5RCycle Foundation that aims at creating a zero-waste management system, and through that also promotes the conservation of our environment, wildlife, and aquatic life.

“This donation drive ensures that all footwear and clothing items we have unsold or we receive in our exchange programs, will be repurposed by those at 5RCycle, Greensole and donated to those in need,” says Nimkar.

The world we live in today is on the brink of climate change, and one of the most significant issues is the use of non-eco-friendly materials in different industries. Sustainable alternatives are the way forward, Nimkar firmly believes. Brands like PAIO, Paaduks and Cai Store have begun to invest in sustainability and biodegradable raw materials like mango leather and mushroom leather as alternatives to animal leather with the hope that they can bring about a positive change to the environment.

<< Previous Urban Square Mall adds a touch of international fashion to its retail mix with new Max store
Next >>Talking Tech: Anurag Saxena, Head of IT, BIBA Apparels Pvt Ltd