One of the biggest challenges for the fashion-conscious vegan used to be footwear. However, with the increase in vegan designers and expansion of vegan shoe stores, it's not as tricky as it once was.
When looking for vegan shoes in mainstream discount stores, look for labels that say "man-made materials." Even cheap shoes in stores like Payless and K-Mart may contain leather so be sure to look for the label that says things are man-made.
If you are in a bigger city, you may be fortunate enough to have a place to go for assured vegan footwear. For instance, Moo Shoes in New York City offers only vegan footwear, and many Whole Foods stores carry a vegan brand of footwear that is clearly labeled.
While leather is considered a good thing to many because of its believed durability, vegan options are just as good. Because of its reputation, leather is often labeled as such. However, that's not always the case. Always read the label to make sure you aren't supporting animal cruelty by accident.
Also, most vegans are concerned with human rights. In an effort to prevent human rights abuses, make sure to look for labels such as fair trade and note the country where an item is manufactured. If it's a country known for child labor and worker exploitation, make sure to leave those shoes on the shelf.