Below are some common words you might see on clothing labels:
cotton – 綿 (men) OR コットン (kotton)
linen – 麻布 / 亜麻布 (mafu / amafu) OR 麻絲 (asaito) OR リネン (rinen)
polyester – ポリエステル (poriesuteru)
acrylic – アクリル (akuriru)
rayon – 人絹 (jinken) OR レーヨン (rēyon)
spandex – スパンデックス (supandekkusu)
wool – 羊毛 youmou OR ウール ūru. Can also be listed on labels just as 毛, which can mean fur, hair or wool
lambswool – ラムウール (ramuūru)
cashmere – カシミヤ (kashimiya)
pashmina – パシュミナ (pashumina)
mohair – モヘア (mohea)
angora – アンゴラ (angora)
silk – 絹 (kinu) OR シルク (shiruku)
fur – 毛皮 (kegawa) OR ファー (fā) (unfortunately real fur is still popular in Japan)
feathers – 羽 (hane) OR フェザー (fezā)
The Osaka-based Vegan Vibes Japan sells clothing and accessories with vegan messaging here on Etsy, as well as at Paprika Shokudo vegan restaurant in Osaka.
Oxygen Beauty Studio sells necklaces with vegan messaging online.
There are many non-leather (although perhaps not completely vegan) shoes in Japan. The only thing that can be a little difficult is if the shoes don’t have a label showing what they are made of. In that case, you will need to check with the staff. Useful words when shoe shopping are:
leather – 革 / 皮 / かわ (kawa) OR レザー (rezā)
synthetic leather – 合成皮革 (gōsei hikaku)
imitation leather – 擬革 / 擬革紙 (gikaku / gikakushi)
Of course you might also see one of the following pictograms (image from the Somijas Apave website):
Belle and Sofa is a shoe and small accessories company that uses all vegan leather instead of real leather. They offer both casual and business styles and have shops in Kyoto, Kobe, Hiroshima, Wakayama and Sagamihara. They also do pop-up events at department stores in other cities- details can be found on their Facebook page. It’s possible to make online orders, even for making shoes wider, narrower, different sized pairs or even single shoes. Women’s shoes come in sizes between 21-26 cm. Men’s shoes are available between sizes 24.5-28 cm. Last time they were asked, they could only custom make one style in 29 cm. A few children’s styles are available on the website as well. Not all styles are offered in all sizes.
At least in Tokyo and perhaps in other large cities, it’s possible to get vegan shoes such as the following. It is probably a good idea to check websites before you go to have a good idea of what you’re searching for, as sales staff will almost certainly not know what the word “vegan” means:
BAGS AND ACCESSORIES
This vegan shoe company from Kobe also makes vegan leather pass cases, card cases, book covers, travel cases, small bags, and so on.
Carries exclusively vegan imported products including shoes, apparel, and bags, on their website and at their Tokyo showroom.
Matt & Nat