Shoes are an integral part of our daily lives, so making responsible choices can significantly impact on the global footwear market. Fortunately, choosing durable options just got easier than ever, thanks to high-quality shoe brands that don’t skimp on style. These shoe brands and their founders source materials responsibly, follow fair labor practices, and strive to minimize their waste. Keep reading to find out which ethical brands are making real progress in sustainability.
Launched in 2005, Veja pioneered the sustainable sneaker market, using a combination of organic cotton, Amazonian rubber, and certified Brazilian leather in the construction of their shoes. The brand is also not shy about being transparent: it has made all of its sourcing and manufacturing processes public.
Australian shoe brand A.Emery offers minimalist shoe styles that seamlessly evolve with the seasons. Their shoes are designed in Melbourne and ethically handmade in the Delhi region of India. Each pair is made from leather, a by-product of the meat industry, responsibly sourced by the Leather Working Group.
A. Emery shop
The aim of the women-founded brand Nomasei is to create honest luxury shoes. Each pair is made in a small family factory in the village of Montopoli in Tuscany. Most of their raw materials are sourced from across Europe to reduce the brand’s carbon emissions.
New York-based brand Giovanna offers three styles of hand-woven mules, all made by artisans in Morocco. Each pair is made from 100% raffia, a natural fiber from palm leaves.
Flattered shoes stand the test of time by avoiding seasonal trends. Their mission is to double the life of their shoes, which reduces production.
Thousand Fell, whose biodegradable sneakers are ethically produced in a small family-run factory in Brazil, are 100% recyclable and made from PET bottles, coconut, sugar cane and palm trees.
Mille Fell shop
Founders Harmony Pilobello and Shilpa Lyengar’s experience in footwear and sustainable design led them to launch the Alterre brand. Each pair is designed with removable straps, so styles are customizable for every occasion. The brand is donating lightly worn samples to Soles4Souls, a non-profit organization that distributes clothing and shoes to people in need.
St. Agni, based in Byron Bay, Australia, is transparent about its supply chain, sharing the physical address of each factory it works with. The brand refrains from using synthetic materials and uses natural fabrics like linen, silk and hemp.
Aurora James founded her brand Brother Vellies to keep traditional African design practices alive. Each pair of shoes is ethically handcrafted by artisans in South Africa, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco and Ethiopia.
Brother Vellies store
The Nomadic State of Mind sandals are handmade from recycled Polypro rope. Each pair is ethically made in Nicaraguan factories that provide jobs for people living in struggling communities.
shop Nomadic state of mind
Grounded People is one of Canada’s premier sustainable footwear brands. Their sneaker styles are made in Brazil from recycled and biodegradable materials.
Grounded People shop
Nelson Made designs shoes that are ethically handcrafted in small batches, with minimal environmental impact. Their Melbourne-based studio is solar-powered and all of their orders are shipped using DHL’s carbon-neutral service.
Nelson Made shop
Designed in Los Angeles and made in Spain, LoQ’s laid-back yet refined designs offer low-impact footwear for the modern wardrobe. Handmade in southern Spain, their shoes are made from vegetable tanned leather.