black reformation shoe close up
17 Feb
black reformation shoe close up

The Ultimate Guide to Ethical and Sustainable Shoes

They are everywhere and in overwhelming numbers, but somehow, shoes are never easy to find. The perfect pair of shoes is something of a unicorn, as it has to be perfect either for every occasion or a very specific one. Rain, shine, evening, casual, work out… Our shoes are our state of mind as well as our sole transportation mode. When it comes to finding the perfect sustainable shoes, it adds an extra layer of soul-searching, but one that will definitely bring you the fulfilment you could never find in the cheap and questionably-made non-choices that are under everyone’s noses.

To help you out on your quest, we’ve created the 2020 Ultimate Guide to Ethical and Sustainable Shoes. You’re welcome.

Sneakers

CARIUMA

Rated: Good
white sneakers by brazilian brand cariuma

The Ibi – Ships internationally from Brazil

CARIUMA is a 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
white sustainable sneakers by veja

Condor Mesh Sneakers – Ships internationally

Veja slowly became one of the main references in ethical shoe-making, sourcing its rubber-soles straight from responsibly-run forests in the Amazon, where workers can expect competitive wages and social protection. The brand recently presented a long-awaited addition to its permanent collection: The Condor, an ethical running shoe model that goes beyond its own standards and shows a futuristic design right on-trend, made from recycled plastic, natural materials like rubber, organic cotton or rice waste and a record-low of chemicals. Find Veja’s shoes in 35 to 46 EU sizes for women, and 35-47 EU sizes for men.

See the rating.

Shop Veja.

Shop Veja @ LVR Sustainable.

Shop Veja @ thegreenlabels.

Shop Veja @ Outerknown.

Shop Veja @ Threads 4 Thought.

Shop Veja @ Labell-D.

Shop Veja Kids second hand @ Retykle.

Stella McCartney

Rated: Good
stella mccartney sneakers

Eclypse 45 Chunky Sneakers – Ships internationally

Stella McCartney should always be included in any ethically-minded list, with its pioneer commitment to environmentally-friendly clothes. The Eclypse model is a mix of old and new—a retro 90’s style sneaker with contemporary multi-textured sophistication, featuring strap fastening and a chunky look rubber platform. Iconic, and sustainable. Shoes come in 5-11 US sizes for women, and 6-12 US sizes for men.

See the rating.

Shop Stella McCartney @ LVR Sustainable.

Shop Stella McCartney @ Labell-D.

Shop Stella McCartney Kids Pre-Owned @ Retykle.

Shop Stella McCartney Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

Shop Stella McCartney.

Etiko

Rated: Great
etiko black low top sneakers

Low Cut Sneakers – Ships internationally

Etiko is a leading Australian designer of organic, eco-friendly and fair trade clothing and shoes. For the classic canvas sneaker done ethically, look no further than these low-cut ones from Etiko that are 100% vegan and made from fair trade, organic materials. They come in a range of colourways to suit your style. Find the shoes in 3-13 UK sizes for women, and 3-13 UK sizes for men.

See the rating.

Shop Etiko.

Womsh

Rated: Good
womsh white sustainable sneakers

Snik White Green – Ships to Europe

Fashion and sustainability can go together and Womsh is the footwear brand that proves it. Their sustainable sneakers are entirely designed and manufactured in Italy. The Snik is a modern interpretation of 1990s sneaker culture and is made from 100% sustainable & vegan leather from Appleskin. Find the shoes in 35-42 EU sizes for women, and 40-46 for men.

See the rating.

Shop Womsh.

Shop Womsh @ Comovita.

NOAH

Rated: Good

White Vegan Sneakers Sammy – Ships internationally

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. Find them in EU sizes 35-42.

See the rating.

Shop NOAH.

Shop NOAH @ 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. The brand has started to improve its environmental practices by setting a science-based target to reduce greenhouse gases in its own operations and supply chain by 50% per unit of revenue by 2025. It also has a policy to eliminate environmental pollution from the use of chromium and other chemicals in its leather tanning processes, and implements initiatives to reduce water use. Thanks to these policies, Alexander McQueen is on the right path and stands out from the majority of luxury fashion houses.

See the rating.

Shop Alexander McQueen Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

Want more ethical sneakers ? Check out these 9 casual ethical shoes for men and women.

Boots

Thesus (Alice + Whittles)

Rated: Great

Outerwear with a purpose, Alice + Whittles wants you to enjoy the vast wilderness without being cold or wet. This brand has designed the sustainable rain boots you’ve always dreamed of. The low-ankled model brings comfort and a minimalist style, and also comes in trendy pastel colours of the moment. Find the shoes in 6-12 CA sizes.

See the rating.

Shop Alice + Whittles.

NAE

Rated: Good
black motor boots by nae

Jenny Boots – Ships internationally

NAE is a Portuguese eco shoes brand using innovative materials to create shoes with “No Animal Exploitation”. Their sustainable shoe materials include recycled PET from bottles, OEKO-TEX® certified microfibres, recycled car tyres, natural cork, recycled thermoplastic and even pineapple leaf fibre! Try these unisex military style boots on for size. Find NAE’s shoes in US sizes 5-12.

See the rating.

Shop NAE.

Shop NAE @ Staiy.

Shop NAE @ Urbankissed.

Will’s Vegan Store

Rated: Good
wills vegan store brown boots

Vegan Work Boots – Ships internationally

Will’s Vegan Store produces animal and human friendly women’s and men’s footwear at affordable prices. These tan work boots are carbon neutral, ethically made in Portugal, and presented in sustainable non treated paper and cardboard packaging. Find the shoes in UK sizes 3-8 or EU sizes 36-42.

See the rating.

Shop Will’s Vegan Store.

Looking for more inspo? Discover our 5 favourite ethical winter boots.

Heels and sandals

The Nude Label

Rated: Good
sustainable wood sandals by the nude label

The Wood Sandal – Ships internationally from Spain

Offers

Two people wearing black and maroon ethically made briefs by The Nude Label.

The Nude Label – Briefs

Cheeky underwear that gives you a relaxed, simple fit. Classic, comfy, and with a very flattering design. 5% discount on packs of 3 or more briefs. (Ends: 22 DEC)

Shop now
Two people wearing a liliac and a black pair of sustainable socks made by The Nude Label.

The Nude Label – Unisex Socks

Breathable, naturally antibacterial, and antifungal genderless socks. To help your feet stay happy and healthy. 5% discount on packs of 3 or more socks. (Ends: 22 DEC)

Shop now

The Nude Label curates comfy cotton underwear for women and men that feel as good as they look. Made from bio-vegan leather and responsibly sourced wood to create the lowest possible footprint, these lightweight wood sandals are great for a comfy and casual look.

See the rating.

Shop The Nude Label.

Funky Kalakar

Rated: Good
ethical heels by funky kalakar

Mudpie Heels – Ships internationally

Funky Kalakar brings alive the stories of the ancient craft in the form of contemporary designs by handcrafting them using natural materials. In addition to being pretty, these vegan heels are also sustainably and ethically made! Find the shoes in EU sizes 36 to 41.

See the rating.

Shop Funky Kalakar.

RAFA

Rated: Good
beige strappy rafa heels

Gobi Sandals – Ships internationally

The luxury US footwear brand RAFA uses recycled vegan textiles in its creations, made to order in Los Angeles. Check out these timeless and vegan strappy sandals with a suede look. The big plus: they contain no animal skins, instead using Polyurethane microfibre materials that are less toxic than the PVC usually utilised for faux-leather. Shoes come in US sizes 5 to 11.

See the rating.

Shop RAFA.

Beyond Skin

Rated: Good
black shiny heels by beyondskin

Cleo Heel Vegan Loafers – Ships internationally

Cruelty-free, luxury eco shoes and boots that are handmade in Spain, with love. Speaking of love, we’re head-over-heels in love with these pumps! Find the shoes in EU sizes 37-41.

See the rating.

Shop Beyond Skin.

Coclico

Rated: Good
heeled clog by coclico

Kule Clog – Ships internationally

Coclico offers sustainable eco-friendly shoes conceived in New York and handcrafted in Spain. Its footwear is high-quality and long-lasting, and it even offsets its carbon footprint. It also knows its suppliers for all stages of production! The brand seeks high standards of ethical and environmental responsibility, and the result is a union of modern minimalism and traditional quality. Shoes come in EU sizes 36-41.

See the rating.

Shop Coclico @ Made Trade.

Bhava

Rated: Good
black bhava flats

Viki Slide – Ships internationally

BHAVA is an innovative vegan women’s footwear brand founded by designer Francisca Pineda. The brand uses some environmentally friendly materials, such as organic cotton and recycled materials. It also does not use aromatic amines, PCP, formaldehyde, PVC, phthalates, azo-dyes, or chrome when creating its vegan leather. The Viki slide with a wooden heel is on-trend and pairs well with everything. Bhava’s shoes come in US sizes 5-11.

See the rating.

Shop Bhava.

Nomadic State of Mind

Rated: Good
vegan rope sandals by nomadic state of mind

Romano Sandals – Ships internationally

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.

See the rating.

Shop Nomadic State of Mind.

Mother of Pearl

Rated: Good
second hand shoes by mara hoffman

Pre-Owned Mother of Pearl Shoes – Ships internationally

Mother of Pearl is a sustainable and ethical luxury womenswear and accessories designer brand from the UK that celebrates individuality and authenticity. The brand uses a high proportion of eco-friendly materials including organic cotton and ensures the payment of a living wage across some of its supply chain. Find most products in UK sizes 6 to 16.

See the rating.

Shop Mother of Pearl.

Shop Mother of Pearl @ Rêve en Vert.

Shop Mother of Pearl Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

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 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 Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

Have a look at our 6 favourite ethical sandals for summer or our favourite ethical heels.

 

Concerned about your carbon footprint when buying from overseas? Your questions are answered in our guide to international shipping

 

 

About the author: Yéléna is a French independent writer based in Paris. She addresses topics surrounding our ways of consuming. Fashion, business, media, politics… It’s all out there on a shelf, and it needs extra customer service. Access her Tumblr here.

Editor's note

Feature image via Reformation, 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 more than 3,000 brands. We may earn a commission on sales with top-rated partners made using our offer codes or affiliate links.

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