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29 Jul

Boots Like Dr Martens: Our Favourite More Sustainable Alternatives

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There are many things to love in a Dr Martens boot: the ankle length, the chunky sole, the timeless design—we can all agree Dr Martens boots are a fashion essential. But one thing we don’t love about these iconic boots (aside from the blisters and how hard they are to break in) is their social and environmental impact. Luckily, there are some fantastic more sustainable brands creating boots like Dr Martens’ out there that are just as good-looking but way better for the planet, people, and animals.

Why we don’t recommend Dr Martens boots

Dr Martens is certainly an iconic brand: beginning humbly as comfortable boots for homemakers in the ’40s, they’ve since become one of the most iconic British shoes repped by punks and musicians and now by many other youth subcultures worldwide. “Docs” are a staple, but to us, they could do much better, which is why we rated Dr Martens “Not Good Enough”.

Dr Martens follows a fast fashion model, dragging its labour rating down to ‘Very Poor’. Despite being manufactured in the UK for 50 years, in 2003, production was moved to China and Thailand, two countries with a high and extreme risk of labour abuse. None of Dr Martens’ supply chain is certified by labour standards, and we found no evidence the brand ensures payment of a living wage in its supply chain.

Dr Martens has made some positive steps when it comes to the environment, like having a lifetime warranty collection and using packaging from 100% post-consumer waste materials. But overall, the brand uses very few lower-impact materials, with most products being made from resource-heavy leather. Dr Martens tanneries are audited by the Leather Working Group, but the brand fails to have robust policies and initiatives on chemicals use and biodiversity protection. Unfortunately, while some of the brand’s supply chain is certified by Workplace Condition Assessment (WCA), and we found no evidence the brand ensures payment of a living wage or that it supports diversity and inclusion in its supply chain.

Finally, from an animal welfare perspective, Dr Martens took a commendable step by introducing a vegan line made from 100% non-animal origin materials. But, it labels the material as “a non-leather synthetic material”, without going into details, which could be made from Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) plasticone of the most environmentally damaging plastics. The brand also still uses leather, shearling, and wool from non-mulesed sheep (though it doesn’t provide any evidence to verify this specific claim).

Overall, while the brand is making a start in animal welfare, it still has a lot of work to do to improve its impact, especially on labour and the environment.

But there’s some good news: if you’re into the Docs style, many conscious brands out there create chunky and cool boots like Dr Martens, but more sustainably. Keep reading to discover some of the top rated alternatives to Dr Martens boots.

Top rated brands creating alternatives to Dr Martens boots


Rated: Good
A pair of black vegan boots like Dr Martens.

Harley Vegan Boots – Ships internationally from Portugal

NAE is a Portuguese footwear, bags, and accessories brand using innovative materials to create goods with “No Animal Exploitation”. Its lower-impact materials include recycled PET from bottles, OEKO-TEX® certified microfibres, recycled car tyres, natural cork, recycled thermoplastic, and even pineapple leaf fibre! This pair makes a great alternative to Docs.

Find most of the shoes in sizes 36 to 46.

See the rating.

Shop NAE.

Shop NAE @ Staiy.

Shop NAE @ Urbankissed.

Will’s Vegan Store

Rated: Good

Dock Boots – Ships internationally from the UK

Will’s Vegan Store is a UK brand that produces vegan footwear and accessories at more affordable prices. These classic docks are made with Italian vegan leather, which is made from plants using bio oil sourced from organic cereal crops grown in Northern Europe.

Find the women’s shoes in US sizes 5-10, and men’s in 7.5-14.

See the rating.

Shop Will’s Vegan Store.

Shop Will’s Vegan Store @ Immaculate Vegan.


Rated: Good

Claudia and Claudio Nappa – Ships internationally from Germany

NOAH creates cruelty-free and 100% vegan shoes and accessories. This German brand’s high-quality and long-lasting shoes are hand-crafted in Italy, using a small proportion of eco-friendly material. The leather-free casual boots Claudia & Claudio are a real classic for the spring and autumn seasons.

Find them in EU sizes 35-42.

See the rating.

Shop NOAH.

Shop NOAH @ Immaculate Vegan.

Good Guys

Rated: Good

Blaze Apple Leather Vegan Ankle Boots – Ships internationally from France

Good Guys creates cruelty-free shoes for women and men, founded and designed by Marion Hanania in Paris. These on-trend black vegan ankle boots are one of Good Guy’s bestsellers and are a great alternative to Docs.

Find most shoes in EU sizes 36 to 46.

See the rating.

Shop Good Guys @ Immaculate Vegan.


Rated: Good
Nisolo brandy boots like Dr Martens through Made Trade

Amalia All Weather Boots – Ships internationally from the US

Nisolo is an American brand that prioritises living wages throughout its supply chains while also working to combat climate change. Tried and true, the Amalia is Nisolo’s heritage boot made from chrome-free leather. It’s designed to grip, provide ankle stability, and protection in rugged environments.

Find the boots in US sizes 5 to 11.

See the rating.

Shop Nisolo.

Shop Nisolo @ Made Trade.

Buying second hand Dr Martens

If you really love Dr Martens boots and can’t see yourself wearing another brand, why not buy your next pair second hand? Buying vintage and second hand provides a refreshing, more sustainable way to shop. It allows us to add items to our wardrobe without using additional resources in the manufacturing process, keep clothes out of landfills, slow down the fast fashion cycle and relentless demands on low-paid workers in the supply chain, and discover unique and special pieces along the way. Alternatively, you can always borrow or swap someone else’s, so you can decide if you like the style and see yourself regularly wearing these iconic boots.

Editor's note

Feature image via Good Guys. All other images via brands mentioned. Good On You publishes the world’s most comprehensive ratings of fashion brands’ impact on people, the planet, and animals. Use our directory to search thousands of rated brands. We love to recommend some of the best more sustainable brands rated "Good" or "Great". We also encourage shopping pre-owned as another great way to reduce the impact of our fashion choices.

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