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26 Feb

The Ultimate Guide to More Ethical and Sustainable Shoes

Our editors curate highly rated brands that are first assessed by our rigorous ratings system. Buying through our links may earn us a commission—supporting the work we do. Learn more.

 

Shoes are a core part of any outfit, and finding ones that match your morals and your style can be tricky. Here’s our ultimate guide to more ethical and sustainable shoes that suit your needs.

 

Table of contents

      1. Sneakers
      2. Boots
      3. Heels, flats and sandals

 

Stroll through our curation of top-rated footwear

They are everywhere and in overwhelming numbers, but somehow, shoes are never easy to find. The perfect pair is something of a unicorn, as it has to be just right for either every occasion or a very specific one. Rain, shine, evening, casual, or exercise, shoes represent our state of mind and lifestyle. And while finding great, more sustainable shoes adds an extra layer of sole searching, we promise its worth it for the fulfilment that you could never find in the cheap and questionably made non-choices that seem to be everywhere. Investing in a pair of more ethical, high quality shoes and learning how to take care of them—and getting them repaired when needed—is ultimately more sustainable for the planet and for your bank account.

To help you on your quest, we’ve curated this ultimate guide to more ethical and sustainable shoes separated by category for easy browsing. Each of the brands below is rated “Good” or “Great” following our world-leading ratings methodology, and they all aim to fight the environmental issues posed by the cheap and traditional take-make-waste model fast fashion brands so often rely on. Step on up and take a look.

Sneakers

CARIUMA

Rated: Good
white sneakers by brazilian brand cariuma

The Ibi – Ships internationally from Brazil

CARIUMA is a more sustainable Brazilian sneaker brand that wants you to feel super comfortable while providing effortless style in organic canvas, leather, and suede styles.

Find CARIUMA's shoes in US sizes 5-13.

See the rating.

Shop CARIUMA.

Veja

Rated: Good
Black and white sneakers from Veja.

V-10 Sneakers – Ships internationally from France

 

Veja is a French brand designing ecological and fair trade footwear, and is also a responsible fashion pioneer. The brand uses lower-impact materials, like GOTS certified cotton and vegetable-tanned leather. Veja pays its co-operative cotton growers and rubber tappers between 30% and 100% above the world market price. By not advertising, Veja is able to invest more money into strengthening its practices.

You can find Veja shoes in women's EU sizes 35-46, and men's 35-47.

See the rating.

Shop Veja.

Shop Veja @ Cerqular.

Shop Veja @ LVRSustainable.

Shop Veja @ Outerknown.

Shop Veja @ Threads 4 Thought.

Shop Veja Kids second hand @ Retykle.

Stella McCartney

Rated: Good
A pair of chunky beige sneakers by Stella McCartney

Eclypse Low-Top Sneakers – Ships internationally from the UK

A member of the Ethical Trading Initiative and Sustainable Apparel Coalition, Stella McCartney has set some excellent environmental standards across the luxury fashion industry. Stella uses some lower-impact materials, including recycled polyester and organic cotton, and has a strategy in place to reduce waste across its entire supply chain. It has also adopted the ETI Code of Conduct that includes a living wage definition.

Find most shoes in EU sizes 35-41.

See the rating.

Shop Stella McCartney @ LVRSustainable.

Shop Stella McCartney Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

Shop Stella McCartney.

Etiko

Rated: Great
A pair of black high top sneakers with white laces and sole by Etiko.

High Top Sneakers – Ships internationally from Australia

Etiko is an Australian designer of organic fair trade clothing and shoes. The brand constantly sets the bar for upholding and campaigning the human rights of people working in traditionally exploitative industry supply chains.

Find the shoes in UK sizes 3-13.

See the rating.

Shop Etiko.

Womsh

Rated: Good
A pair of chunky beige and white sneakers by Womsh.

Bolder Sneakers – Ships internationally from Italy

Fashion and responsible production can go together and Womsh is the brand that proves it. The Italian brand’s shoes are entirely designed and manufactured in Italy, and its clothing range is made from lower-impact fabrics like organic cotton.

Find most shoes in EU sizes 35-42.

See the rating.

Shop Womsh.

NOAH

Rated: Good

White Vegan Sneakers Sammy – 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 lower-impact materials.

Find them in EU sizes 35-42.

See the rating.

Shop NOAH.

Shop NOAH @ Immaculate Vegan.

ID.EIGHT

Rated: Good

Hana White Crinkle – Ships internationally from Italy

ID.EIGHT is an Italian brand that was born from the meeting between Dong Seon Lee and Giuliana Borzillo, both come from the world of footwear, where they worked and met. Together they have created a more ethical and sustainable collection of sneakers with a refined design. The shoes are made in Italy with lower-impact materials from food industry waste such as apple peels, grape stalks and seeds, and pineapple leaves, as well as recycled cotton and polyester.

Find the shoes in EU sizes 36-46.

See the rating.

Shop ID.EIGHT.

Flamingos’ Life

Rated: Good
Pearl coloured retro '90s sneakers by Flamingos' Life.

Retro 90s Pearl Gesso – Ships to the US and Europe from Spain

Flamingos’ Life creates sneakers that are free from animal-derived materials for everyone. The brand uses lower-impact and PETA approved vegan materials, including upcycled materials.

Find the range in EU sizes 36-46.

See the rating.

Shop Flamingos’ Life.

Shop Flamingos’ Life @ Good.

COG

Rated: Good
A pair of navy sneakers with white soles from COG.

Winton Sneakers – Ships internationally from France

Based in France, COG is a footwear label that creates more sustainable, vegan shoes from 100% recycled materials, including natural corks, used cotton scraps, end-of-life rubber, and plastic bottles fished out of the sea.

Find most shoes in EU sizes 35-46.

See the rating.

Shop COG.

Shop COG @ Immaculate Vegan.

Balenciaga (Pre-Owned)

Rated: It's A Start

Pre-Owned Balenciaga Sneakers – Ships internationally

Balenciaga is a luxury fashion house founded in 1919 by Spanish designer Cristóbal Balenciaga in San Sebastián. The Kering-owned brand has been making some efforts to reduce its environmental impact, setting targets to reduce its direct and indirect emissions, and implementing initiatives to reduce water use.

See the rating.

Shop Balenciaga Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

Alexander McQueen (Pre-Owned)

Rated: It's A Start

Pre-Owned Alexander McQueen Sneakers – Ships internationally

The iconic British fashion house, owned by Kering and now run by Sarah Burton (who designed Catherine Middleton's dress for her wedding to Prince William), is characterised by theatrical and bright styling. Alexander McQueen is on the right path and stands out from the majority of luxury fashion houses.

See the rating.

Shop Alexander McQueen @ Vestiaire Collective.

Want more? Check out our guide to more sustainable sneakers

Boots

Thesus (Alice + Whittles)

Rated: Good
sage green vegan boots by thesus

The Weekend Boot in Sage – Ships internationally from Canada

Canadian brand Thesus favours transparency, responsible manufacturing practices, and lower-impact materials as a means of creating long-lasting, positive change.

Find the boots in EU sizes 36-46.

See the rating.

Shop Thesus.

NAE

Rated: Good
Black vegan heeled chelsea boots by NAE.

Hida Vegan Boot – 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.

Find most of the shoes in EU sizes 36-46.

See the rating.

Shop NAE.

Shop NAE @ Urbankissed.

Shop NAE @ Immaculate Vegan.

Will’s Vegan Store

Rated: Good
A pair of chelsea boots by Will's Vegan Store.

Vegan Chelsea Boots – Ships internationally from the UK

UK-based Will’s Vegan Store produces animal and human friendly footwear, clothing, and accessories at more affordable prices, using lower-impact and vegan materials.

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.

VEERAH

Rated: Good

Hedy Boots – Ships internationally from the US

Offers

Slingbacks

VEERAH – Site-wide

Meet the new Indra Slingback Flats: A perfect blend of sophistication and sustainability. Preorder starts now! Exclusive 10% off all full-price items for first-time purchases off with code VEERAHGOOD10 (Ends: 30 JUN)

Checkout code: VEERAHGOOD10
Shop now
Pink heeled shoes from Veerah

VEERAH – Site-wide

Enjoy classic vegan pumps crafted from recycled materials. Exclusive 10% off all full-price items for first-time purchases with code VEERAHGOOD10. (Ends: 30 JUN)

Checkout code: VEERAHGOOD10
Shop now

VEERAH is an NYC-based designer vegan shoe company founded and led by women to “do good and look incredible”. Its innovative apple peel leather shoe collection is crafted with cushioned insoles made from algae blooms. Each pair is transformative with interchangeable shoe accessories to create more looks with less.

Find most shoes in US sizes 5-11.

See the rating.

Shop VEERAH.

Good Guys

Rated: Good
black and white eco-friendly boots by Good Guys Don't Wear Leather

Oliver Vegan Chelsea Boots – Ships internationally from France

Good Guys creates cruelty-free shoes for women and men, founded and designed by Marion Hanania in Paris. Through Good Guys, Hanania aims to create the perfect cruelty-free, made-in-Europe closet, where no animal product is involved, and the production guarantees fair trade working conditions.

Find most shoes in EU sizes 36-46.

See the rating.

Shop Good Guys.

Shop Good Guys @ Immaculate Vegan.

LANIUS

Rated: Good
A pair of green western boots by LANIUS.

Western Boots – Ships within Europe from Germany

“Love fashion, think organic, be responsible” are the maxims of LANIUS. The German brand uses lower-impact materials, like GOTS certified cotton. All LANIUS facilities are SA8000 certified and it is a member of the Fair Wear Foundation.

LANIUS’ shoes are available in EU sizes 36-41.

See the rating.

Shop LANIUS.

Christy Dawn

Rated: Great
Black leather lace up Dawn Boots by Christy Dawn.

The Dawn Boot – Ships internationally from the US

Christy Dawn is a minimalist showroom for vintage-inspired women’s clothing and footwear, locally made with surplus fabric. The US brand rates “Great”, making it a fabulous option for your wardrobe.

Find the shoes in US sizes 5-11.

See the rating.

Shop Christy Dawn.

Looking for more inspiration? Discover our favourite winter boots from top-rated brands

Heels, flats, and sandals

1 People

Rated: Good
A pair of minimalist black ankle strap sandals with small wooden heels.

Ankle Strap Sandal Heels – Ships internationally from Denmark

1 People is a Danish-designed lifestyle and luxury brand. It blends Scandinavian colour palettes and minimalist design to create effortlessly elegant collections for the conscious-minded. Its pieces are thoughtfully crafted by small family-run manufacturers using lower-impact and certified materials.

Find the shoes in EU sizes 36-39.

See the rating.

Shop 1 People.

Shop 1 People @ Cerqular.

ABLE

Rated: Good
A pair of beige pointed top slingback flats.

Pointed Toe Slingback Flat – Ships internationally from

ABLE is a US-based clothing and accessories brand that works with communities all over the world to make a meaningful impact, producing slow fashion that pays a living wage to women who have faced extraordinary circumstances. It uses lower-impact materials, and reuses water and materials to minimise waste. With thoughtful design and a level of quality that guarantees its products for life, its pieces aren’t just an investment for your wardrobe, they are an investment in women around the world.

Find the shoes in US sizes 5-12.

See the rating.

Shop ABLE.

Nomadic State of Mind

Rated: Good
vegan rope sandals by nomadic state of mind

Romano Sandals – Ships internationally from the US

US-based Nomadic State of Mind hand-crafts vegan sandals made of rope, up-cycled sailcloth, hemp, and recycled plastic bottles. The brand also provides jobs for workers from disadvantaged communities in Nicaragua.

Find the shoes in EU sizes 34-41

See the rating.

Shop Nomadic State of Mind.

Shop Nomadic State of Mind @ Good.

Mother of Pearl

Rated: Good
second hand shoes by mara hoffman

Pre-Owned Mother of Pearl Shoes – Ships internationally

Mother of Pearl is a more sustainable and ethical luxury womenswear and accessories designer brand from the UK that celebrates individuality and authenticity. The brand uses a high proportion of more responsible materials, including organic cotton, and ensures the payment of a living wage across some of its supply chain.

See the rating.

Shop Mother of Pearl.

Shop Mother of Pearl @ Rêve en Vert.

Shop Mother of Pearl Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

Elk

Rated: Good
Brown leather heeled sandals made by Elk.

Agata Heel – Ships internationally from Australia

A pioneer of independent Australian design, Elk was founded in Melbourne in 2004. Elk creates bi-annual collections that are informed by a design ethos where simplicity and sustainability meet innovation.

Find most items in AU sizes 6-18.

See the rating.

Shop Elk.

Filippa K (Pre-Owned)

Rated: It's A Start
second-hand heels by filippa k

Pre-Owned Filippa K Heels – Ships internationally

Filippa K was built in Stockholm in 1993, on a backbone of entrepreneurial strength focused on style, simplicity and quality. It uses organic cotton and linen and recycles off-cuts created during the manufacturing process. The brand is also certified as ‘good’ by the Fair Wear Foundation and makes efforts to follow the Fair Wear Responsible Code of Labour.

See the rating.

Shop Filippa K Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

COS (Pre-Owned)

Rated: It's A Start

Pre-Owned COS Shoes – Ships internationally

COS is a Swedish brand that creates timeless and innovative wardrobe-essentials. It uses some eco-friendly materials and received a score of 71-80% in the Fashion Transparency Index.

See the rating.

Shop COS Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

Saint Laurent (Pre-Owned)

Rated: It's A Start

Pre-owned Saint Laurent Heels – Ships internationally

Yves Saint Laurent, or as it's now known, Saint Laurent, is a French luxury fashion house founded by Yves Saint Laurent and his partner, Pierre Bergé. The brand has good policies to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

See the rating.

Shop Saint Laurent @ Vestiaire Collective.

Have a look at our favourite sandals for summer or our favourite ethical heels.

Editor's note

Feature image via LANIUS, 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. We love to recommend some of the best sustainable brands, rated "Good" or "Great". We also encourage shopping pre-owned as another great way to reduce the impact of our fashion choices. Use our directory to search thousands of rated brands.

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