Ethical and sustainable shoe brands can make a positive difference: they care about their impact on the environment and their workers. We’ve put together a list of the best brands to help you be a more conscientious consumer.
Shoes are known to be one of the worst offenders in the fashion industry due to their reliance on petroleum-based materials and unfavorable working conditions in many shoe factories. Sustainable shoe brands, on the other hand, source natural and organic materials in a way that is environmentally friendly. Ethical shoe brands go the extra mile to ensure that the people making their shoes do not get exploited in the process.
1. Ethical Shoes by Adelante Shoe Co.
Price: $125 – $350
Type of Shoes: Boots, Loafers, Moccasins, Sandals, and Shoes
Adelante truly cares about the people that make the shoes, which is why they developed the Living Well Line methodology. They pay the craftsmen and women directly to give them financial autonomy so they can invest in their own family and spark change throughout the community. This ethical shoe brand operates on a cobbler to customer product chain, meaning that every pair of shoes is made to order.
2. Aks: Hand Embroidered Ethical Shoes
Price: $84 – $170
Type of Shoes: High and Low Top Sneakers
This San Fransisco-based company values fairness, sustainability, women’s development, and inclusivity. By using certified Fairtrade organic cotton and sustainably harvested natural rubber, their shoes are both recyclable and fully biodegradable. In fact, 90 percent of this ethical shoe brand’s production takes place within miles of the source of materials in order to reduce their carbon footprint. What makes Aks shoes unique is their designs, which are hand embroidered by artisans in Pakistan. The local factory is WRAP certified, according to Aks artisans earn a fair wage per pair, allowing them to triple their daily income.
3. Alice + Whittles
Price: $80 – $198
Type of Shoes: Hiking Boots, Rain Boots, and Sneakers
Alice + Whittles is a sustainable shoe brand specializing in outdoor footwear. 90 percent of the materials they use are traceable, however, they’re working towards 100 percent. They pride themselves on using no virgin plastic in their shoes, preferring to use reclaimed ocean plastics and recycled PET. They also use natural fair-trade rubber from sustainably managed forests and vegan water-based glue.
4. Allbirds: Sustainable Sneakers
Price: $95 – $145
Type of Shoes: Boat Shoes, Flats, High Tops, Running Shoes, Slip Ons, and Sneakers
This Kiwi-American company gets their inspiration from nature. They aim to replace petroleum-based materials with natural ones, and have even invented their own materials to suit their needs! Allbirds is a Certified B Corp with a small, tight-knit supply chain and a real commitment to sustainability. They strive to reduce past carbon neutrality and actually become a climate-positive company.
Price: $79 – $139
Type of Shoes: Casual Sneakers, Slip Ons and High Tops
Cariuma is a Rio de Janiero-based sustainable shoe brand that is committed to reforestation projects in the Brazilian rainforest. For every pair of shoes they sell, they plant two trees! Their concept is simple — high quality, low impact shoes that are built to last. Materials used include bamboo, natural rubber, sugarcane, GOTS-certified organic cotton, and cork. They follow International Labor Operation guidelines and ensure that their factory workers make a comfortable, living wage, and maintain a healthy work/ life balance. Their manufacturing partner is WRAP Gold certified.
6. Deux Mains
Price: $28 – $75
Type of Shoes: Sandals
This woman-owned and operated company provides incredible employment opportunities for the women of Haiti, and has partnered with non-profit Rebuild Globally. Deux Mains built and own their factory in Haiti, which allows them to control the wages and benefits their artisans receive. This includes things like health insurance, paid vacation, parental leave, and education benefits. They also care about the environment which is why their factory is 100 percent solar-powered, they source their leather from tanneries committed to sustainability and they use recycled tires and inner tubes in their shoes.
7. Indosole: Sustainable Shoes from Old Tires
Price: $45 – $65
Type of Shoes: Sandals
The founder of Indosole saw a problem with tires: they take forever to break down, and burning them has negative environmental impacts. So this sustainable shoe brand makes their sandals out of recycled tires (plus natural rubber and new material). The color palette chosen is inspired by nature and all the sandals are waterproof making them a perfect shoe to wear to the beach. Indosole is a Certified B Corp, proving that the company meets high social and environmental standards.
8. NAE: A Sustainble Vegan Shoe Brand
Price: $87 – $219
Types of Shoes: Boots, Flats, Heels, Men’s, Sneakers, Sandals
NAE stands for “No Animal Exploitation”, which is why all their shoes are 100 percent vegan. This ethical shoe brand manufactures their products in Portugal and Spain using ecological, sustainable, and recycled materials. One of their most interesting materials is piñatex, which is a natural fabric made from pineapple leaf fibers. Their gorgeous product line just goes to show that you don’t have to compromise on fashion when buying ethical and sustainable shoes.
9. Nisolo: Beautiful, Sustainable and Ethical Shoes
Price: $100 – $260
Types of Shoes: Boots, Oxfords, Flats, Loafers, Mules, Sandals, and Sneakers
If variety is what you’re after in an ethical and sustainable shoe brand, Nisolo is the brand for you. They have numerous styles available for both men and women. This Certified B Corp is striving to push the fashion industry in a more sustainable direction and is committed to circular fashion. Nisolo shoes are ethically made and workers are not only paid fair wages, but they are also given access to in-house financial literacy training.
10. Veja: Ethical Shoes Made in Brazil
Price: $100 – $290
Type of Shoes: Sneakers
If you’re looking for transparency when it comes to buying shoes, Veja is a great ethical shoe brand. When browsing their website, you can find out exactly what each shoe is made of and where it was made. The majority of this Certified B Corp’s materials include recycled PET and organic cotton, which they buy directly from the farmers at above market price. They’ve partnered with a factory that cares about their workers and offers higher than average living wages, regulated working hours, generous paid vacation, and a communal bus service to get to and from work.** Links to retailers are partially affiliate links: If you buy here, you actively support Utopia.org because we get a small portion of the proceeds.
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