15 Sustainable and Ethical Shoe Brands You Should Know

Ethical

We all know that the outfit look is not done until we have selected the right pair of shoes. That right pair of shoes not only can be a time saver when you are in a hurry, but they can also make a difference ethically. The right pair of shoes can last you for a long time, which is good for both you and the environment. If you can find a pair of ethical shoes that fits your style and is comfortable, is the epitome of the cherry on top of the sundae. Not only are ethical shoes, long-lasting and environmentally friendly, but there are also so many good looking and comfortable options available nowadays. While finding the perfect pair of shoes might be a quest, but with these ethical shoe brands, it might not be so bad.

What Does Ethical Shoes Mean?

You must be wondering what do ethical shoes mean? What are considered ethical shoes?
Ethical shoes mean the shoes are made with an ethical mindset, whether it is the people that are making the shoes are treated ethically or that the materials are obtained ethically. An example would be using fair trade organic cotton to make a pair of shoes, in addition, the workers are working in a safe environment, paid fair wages, and no child labor. There is transparency throughout the process of making and selling the shoes. Some brands even take it even further with an ethical mindset and sustainable materials, using recycled materials or upcycle waste to produce something wonderful. Ethical shoes can also mean that they are producing products that are long lasting and even once the product’s lifestyle is over, it can easily be disposed of.

Why you should wear Ethical Shoes

By choosing to wear ethical shoes, it means you are using your money to vote for the types of products you want to see more of. You are actively making a choice and showing the industry and the world that you support ethical brands and you want more of it, and that is what ethical choice is all about. Making ethical choices with what you can, little by little. However, if the product is not in your budget, please don’t go out of your way to get it, there are so many different ethical choices you can make, choose the ones that work for you. So maybe, ethical shoes is an option for you, if so, check out the brands below.

15 Ethical and Sustainable Shoes Brands

Here are 15 ethical shoe brands that you should check out. They have different standards of ethical, but one thing in common is that they are all trying to make a difference for the planet, and the people.

Pricing Labels:

  • $1~ $50 USD = $
  • $51 ~ $100 USD = $$
  • $101 ~ $150 USD = $$$
  • $151 ~ $200 USD = $$$$
  • $200+ = $$$$$


French Ethical Shoes Brand: Veja



Veja-ethical sneakers
V-12 LEATHER WHITE CYPRUS (Image Sourced from Veja’s Official Website)
Brand: Veja
Best For: Sneakers, Vegan shoes
Product Range: Women & Men’s sneakers, runners,
Price Range: $$$ ~ $$$$
How is it ethical shoes?
Veja is a popular and well known ethical shoe brand founded in France. The goal of the creators was to create shoes that not only is beautiful in terms of design but also socially responsible. The material to the factory they used to work with are all chosen with ethical intent. Such as organic cotton that is directly sourced from farmers in Peru and Brazil, where farmers and producers are paid more and fairly as there is no middleman involved. Veja value transparency and choosing the right material and making a pair of long-lasting shoes. In addition, they are actively involved in making more sustainable choices, such as vegetable-tanned leather, natural resources (rubber and cotton), protecting the rainforest, upcycling (plastic), and fair trade.

Vessi: Waterproof and Ethical




Vessi - waterproof sneakers
Weekend Sneakers – Latte Beige (Image Sourced from Vessi’s Official Website)
Brand: Vessi
Best For: Sneaker
Product Range: Women & Men’s sneakers and runner
Price Range: $$$
How is it ethical shoes?
Vessi was invented by three people that are tired of soaked socks. They invented Vessi to be waterproof so you don’t have to worry about ruining your sneakers on a rainy day. With this one pair, you can go anyway and it is long lasting. The three Asian founders understand the pollution caused by the textile industry, so when creating Vessi, they made sure they are different. All shoes are vegan and cruelty-free, in addition to reducing knitting time to reduce carbon emissions. Plus, Vessi has a community fund, wherewith each pair of Vessi sold, a certain amount is donated to help organizations and creating future opportunities.

Ethletic’s Ethical Shoes



Ethletic Fair Sneaker Root II
Fair Sneaker Root II – Jet Black (Image Sourced from Ethlethic’s Official Website)
Brand: Ethletic
Best For: Sneakers
Product Range: Women & Men’s Sneakers, Flats, Trainers
Price Range: $ ~ $$$
How is it ethical shoes?
Ethletic is founded in Germany, where they make sure their users know who made their shoes. They value transparency, sustainability, and fair trade. They use natural rubber and fairtrade organic cotton. Ethletic also work with Worker’s Welfare Society, for each pair of shoes sold, $1USD is paid as a premium to the Welfare Society. Plus, their ethical shoes are PETA approved vegan.

Rens: Coffee Made Ethical Shoes



Ren Original's coffee shoes
Coffee Sneakers – Rebel Black (Image Sourced from Rens’ Official Website)
Brand: Rens
Best For: Sneakers
Product Range: Unisex Sneakers
Price Range: $$$
How is it ethical shoes?
Rens uses used coffee and recycle plastic to make their perfect fit, waterproof and vegan sneakers. Not only are they aware of the pollution caused by the fashion industry, but they also want to make a difference in plastic pollution and food waste. Every pair of Rens’ sneaker is made with 6 recycled water bottles and 150 grams of used coffee ground and natural rubber.

Nothing New’s Ethical Shoes



Nothing New's ethical shoes - low top sneakers
Low Top – Grey (Image Sourced from Nothing New’s Official Website)
Brand: Nothing New
Best For: Sneakers
Product Range: Unisex Sneakers
Price Range: $$ ~ $$$
How is it ethical shoes?
As the name suggested, the materials to make Nothing New shoes are all post-consumer plastic and other sustainable materials. The entire shoes are made of different upcycled plastic waste. Nothing New also provides a Virtuoso Circle Program, where once you are done with your shoes, you can send the shoes back (they will pay for your shipping) and give you a discount for your new pair of ethical shoes. In addition, the promise to make a difference by the support the local community and in carbon neutrality, donating and supporting organizations that actively reduce carbon emissions.

Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather



Good Guys Don't Wear Leather- Vegan leather shoes
COOPER, VEGAN DESERT BOOTS – BLACK APPLESKIN™ (Image Sourced from Good Guys’ Official Website)
Brand: Good Guys
Best For: Vegan Leather Shoes
Product Range: Women & Men’s Boots, Sneakers, Flats, Sandals, Clogs
Price Range: $$ ~ $$$$
How is it ethical shoes?
In 2011 Paris, Marion Hanania started her own ethical shoe brand where no animals are harmed while being fashionable, Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather. Her goal is to create a cruelty-free closet and guarantee fair trade and safe working conditions for the workers in Europe. All shoes are 100% vegan and cruelty-free.

BANGS – The perfect pair for your next adventure



BANGS Universe High Top Shoes
Universe High Top (Image Sourced from BANGS’ Official Website)
Brand: BANGS
Best For: High Top Sneakers
Product Range: Unisex High Top and Low Top Sneakers, Slip Ons, Kid’s
Price Range: $ ~ $$
How is it ethical shoes?
Hannah Davis founded BANGS in hopes to create the perfect pair of shoes for all sort of adventures. All of BANGS shoes are 100% vegan and ethically sourced, made in Asia, where workers feel safe and respected. In addition, for each pair of BANGS sold, a portion of the profit is used to help other entrepreneurs in creating their own business.

Ethical Fashion Brand: Able



Able Women's Sandals - ethical shoes choice
Ren Sandals – Bright Coral Suede (Image Sourced from ABLE’s Official Website)
Brand: Able
Best For: Sandals
Product Range: Women’s Heels, Sneakers, Flats, Sandals
Price Range: $$~$$$$
How is it ethical shoes?
Able is an all-rounded ethical fashion brand with accessories, bags, clothes, and shoes. Able to strive to fight against gender inequality and end poverty by providing opportunities for women. They have direct manufacturing partners in Ethiopia, India, Mexico, and Brazil. Not only does Able provide opportunities for women, but they also make sure they pay fair and livable wages. In addition, Able upcycle the byproducts of the meat industry to make beautiful leather products, which is less energy consuming than vegan leather.

Sustainable Luxury Footwear: Sylven New York



Ethical shoes - ALMASI white vegan apple leather
ALMASI White Vegan Apple Leather (Image Sourced from Sylven New York’s Official Website)
Brand: Sylven New York
Best For: Vegan Leather Boots
Product Range: Women’s Boots, Flats, Heels
Price Range: $$$$$
How is it ethical shoes?
For Sylven New York, sustainability means “defending and protecting our natural resources, and minimizing the environmental impact of our consumption and decision-making.” Material and components are organic, biodegradable, bio-based, recycled, and renewable. Work with artisans that are paid fairly and only work with ethically certified factories.

Ethical Shoes that Preserves Japanese Culture: Relier81



A variety of different ethical shoes from Relier 81
(Image Sourced from Relier81’s Official Website)
Brand: Relier81
Best For: Mules
Product Range: Women’s Mules, Flats
Price Range: $$$ ~ $$$$
How is it ethical shoes?
Relier81 is a unique upcycle boutique. Relier81 upcycle traditional Japanese kimono and obi (kimono straps) and transform them into beautiful shoes. These beautiful and ethical shoes are made in Japan with local artisans, not only do they preserve Japanese tradition, but they also bring life to old kimonos.

Vegan Leather: Belle & Sofa



Belle & Sofa's Soft Coin Loafers
Soft Coin Loafer – Black (Image Sourced from Belle & Sofa’s Official Website)
Brand: Belle & Sofa
Best For: Loafers
Product Range: Women & Men’s Vegan Leather Shoes, Flats, Heels, Kid’s
Price Range: $$$
How is it ethical shoes?
Belle & Sofa has over 50 years of shoe-making experience in Kobe, Japan. To Belle & Sofa, a pair that can last a lifetime and is comfortable are the most important things. They use special vegan leather rather than regular synthetic leather, in addition, any leftover vegan leather is used to produce other products. All shoes are sold directly from the factory to cut out the middlemen.

Portugese NAE Vegan Shoes



Men's ethical shoes from NAE
DANTE CORK DERBY MEN’S VEGAN SHOES (Image Sourced from NA Vegan Shoes’ Official Website)
Brand: NAE Vegan Shoes
Best For: Flats
Product Range: Women & Men’s Shoes, Flats, Heels, Sandals, Sneakers, Boots
Price Range: $$ ~ $$$$
How is it ethical shoes?
NAE stands for No Animal Exploitation, all shoes are vegan and ecological alternatives against human exploitation too. All shoes are made and produced in Portugal with natural ingredients (cotton, piñatex, cork), recycled materials (PET), and vegan leather. In addition, they work with local Portuguese family-run factories with fair trade conditions.

RAFA from Los Angeles



RAFA's ethical heels
The Holiday Heel – Conch (Image Sourced from RAFA’s Official Website)
Brand: RAFA
Best For: Sandals
Product Range: Women’s Heels, Mules, Sandals, Boots
Price Range: $$$$$
How is it ethical shoes?
RAFA is founded by Taghrid Zorob, it is a luxury, ethical shoe brand. Her goal is to make timeless shoes in terms of fashionability and product longevity. All shoes are handmade in Los Angeles by 20 artisans in a small factory. The shoes are made with sustainable materials, such as recycled vegan textiles that are upcycled PET bottles and other plastic.

Guatemala Based Ethical Shoes



Men's shoes from The Root Collective
MEN’S PABLO CHUKKA IN CHESTNUT (Image Sourced from The Root Collective’s Official Website)
Brand: The Root Collective
Best For: Short Boots
Product Range: Women & Men’s Boots, Flats, Sandals
Price Range: $$$ ~ $$$$$
How is it ethical shoes?
The Root Collective is based in Guatemala, where they support local artisans and workshops. All workers are paid fair wages and provided with safe and transparent working conditions. In addition, many of the patterns on the fabric are woven by women in rural areas, where working with these provides them with opportunities and empowers them and supports the local communities.

Trendy Ethical Shoes ILYSM



Trendy and Unique Ethical Shoes from ILYSM
Silk Tabi – Pitch (Image Sourced from ILYSM’s Official Website)
Brand: ILYSM
Best For: Tabi Sneakers
Product Range: Tabi Sneakers
Price Range: $$ ~ $$$
How is it ethical shoes?
“ILYSM is a sneaker brand and digital community-driven platform whose mission is to support an ecosystem of artists and elevate new talent.” ILYSM is known for its Tabi sneakers that can be traced back to 1400s Japan, the split toes socks made for sandals. The knit is made from recycled materials (recycled polyester), natural materials and other sustainable options. In addition, the shoes are made in Guangdong China, where workers are paid above-average pay and able to support their families.

Other Ethical Fashion Choices!

These are just 15 ethical shoe brands, there are so many more available. Which is a good thing, by supporting these ethical shoe brands means we are making a difference through ethical choices. Plus, having a pair of ethical shoes is a great way to spice up your look and take one step closer to a more sustainable lifestyle.
I hope you enjoyed this article, if you are a boot type of person, here is a dedicated article about eco-friendly boots. As for other ethical fashion choices, we have ethical fashion and ethical jewelry that will go perfectly with your fashion sense.

               
Author: Monica Chang
On my own ethical journey since 2010. Always happy to learn more!