Sustainability made simple

Ethical Fashion: 10 Exciting Sustainable Shoe Brands

sustainable ethical shoes
Screenshots: Instagram/ aks, deux mains

These 10 sustainable shoe brands are leading the way in the ethical fashion industry with eco-friendly materials and fair labor practices. Step up your fashion game while reducing your carbon footprint!

Did you know that shoes can be one of the biggest culprits of environmental damage in the fashion industry? But there’s a solution: sustainable and ethical shoe brands.

Traditional shoes rely heavily on petroleum-based materials, which have a huge impact on the planet. These materials can take hundreds of years to break down, and they often release toxic chemicals into the air and water during production. But sustainable shoe brands are changing the game by sourcing natural and organic materials that are kinder to the Earth.

But it’s not just the materials that matter. The fashion industry is notorious for poor working conditions, and shoe factories are no exception. Sustainable shoe brands go above and beyond to ensure that the people making their shoes are treated fairly and with respect. This means fair wages, safe working conditions and no exploitation.

Choosing to shop from sustainable and ethical shoe brands is an easy way to be more sustainable and exercise your power as a conscious consumer. Your feet (and the planet) will thank you!

1. Ethical Footwear by Adelante Shoe Co.

Price: $125 – $350
Types of shoes:
boots, loafers, moccasins, sandals and classic shoes

Adelante truly cares about the people that make the shoes, which is why they developed the Living Well Line methodology. They pay craftsmen and women directly, giving them the financial autonomy to invest in their own families and spark change throughout their communities. This ethical shoe brand operates on a cobbler-to-customer product chain, meaning that every pair of shoes is made to order — and they offer free shipping within the US.

2. Aks: Fair Trade 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 fair trade 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 where its materials are sourced — greatly reducing its carbon footprint. What makes Aks shoes unique is their designs, which are hand embroidered by artisans in Pakistan. The local factory is WRAP certified.

3. Thesus

Price: $80 – $198 
Type of shoes: hiking boots, rain boots and sneakers 

Thesus is a sustainable shoe brand specializing in outdoor footwear. 90 percent of the materials they use are traceable; however, they’re working toward making that 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 its inspiration from nature. They aim to replace petroleum-based materials with natural ones and have even invented their own eco-friendly materials. Allbirds is a Certified B Corp with a small, tight-knit supply chain and a real commitment to sustainability. They strive to surpass carbon neutrality to become a climate-positive company. 

5. Cariuma 

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 the non-profit Rebuild Globally. Deux Mains built and own their factory in Haiti, allowing them to control the wages and benefits their artisans receive — including health insurance, paid vacation, parental leave and education benefits. This label is also focused on environmental responsibility: 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 is a major contributor to air pollution. So this sustainable shoe brand makes their sandals out of recycled tires (plus natural rubber and new material). The color palate is inspired by nature, and all the sandals are lightweight and waterproof, making them the perfect beach shoe. 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 and sandals 

NAE stands for “No Animal Exploitation,” which is why all their shoes are 100 percent vegan. This ethical shoe brand manufactures its 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 shows that you don’t have to compromise on style when buying ethical and sustainable shoes. 

9. Nisolo: Classic, 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 label, 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 paid fair wages and provided access to in-house financial literacy training. 

10. Veja: Sustainable Shoes Made in Brazil

Price: $100 – $290
Type of shoes: sneakers

If you’re looking for transparency, Veja is a fantastic choice of ethical shoe brand. When browsing their selection online, you can see exactly what each shoe is made of and where it was produced. The majority of this Certified B Corp’s materials include recycled PET and organic cotton, which they buy directly from 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.

Everyday Sustainable Fashion

As consumers, we have the power to influence the fashion industry’s direction by choosing sustainable fashion options, including ethical and sustainable shoe brands.

If you’re interested in exploring more sustainable style options, check out our other carefully chosen Purchase Advice.

** Links to retailers marked with ** or underlined orange are partially partner links: If you buy here, you actively support, because we will receive a small part of the sales proceeds. More info.

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